Released in 2009
Director: Matthew Avant
Genre: Science Fiction
Virgil Films & Entertainment/Walking Shadows
Summary: In this conspiracy-centric mockumentary, a group of documentary filmmakers investigate a radio phone call from a man claiming there are people on the moon who are watching us. When photographic evidence leads the filmmakers to a time machine, powered by a mysterious gem, they find themselves caught in a web of secrets and on the run from the powerful Church of Lunology.
Overview: I don’t put much stock into conspiracy theories, but I find them to be engaging “what ifs” nonetheless. Conspiracies about the moon have circulated for decades: Was it faked with footage shot by Stanley Kubrick? Why haven’t we gone back in the years since Neil Armstrong first set foot there? Are there beings living on the moon? Lunopolis takes all of these theories and blends them together, spinning ideas so ludicrous and imaginative it’s impossible not to commend the efforts of writer/director Matthew Avant. Not for one minute of the faux-doc are the theories believable, but it’s so ambitious in its concepts that it’s nothing short of engaging.
The film is split between found-footage of the filmmakers, roughly animated exposition, and History Channel style talking heads elaborating on the conspiracy and Church of Lunology. It’s an interesting mix of formats, but it also creates some unevenness in the film’s tone and pacing. The acting in the found-footage bits seem unnatural and forced in parts. But there’s such a great sense of paranoia and the ominous forces behind the scenes that the acting quality isn’t particularly distracting. Where the film really shines is in its animated backstory and talking heads. It is in these moments that we learn in 2012 a group of astronauts from a privately owned enterprise will travel back in time to the moon, where they will colonize it and repopulate it. From there these moon people use their time machines to influence the earth, averting certain disasters in order to avoid the end of the world. People from George Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Mark David Chapman are all revealed to be time travelers who aided this mission. Every odd event in human history, from the pyramids, Atlantis, and UFOs, is the work of these moon people. Toss in the secondary narrative about the inventor of the time travel device achieving immortality and founding a cult, and you’ve got a truly mental sci-fi story. And I won’t even get into the twists, which alone make the film worth revisiting.
Lunopolis’ ideas clearly exceed its budgetary limitations. And while there are parts of the film I wish were more polished, it should also be recognized that this is film not built on the power of its direction, cinematography, or acting, but purely on its ideas. While Avant hasn’t directed a film since this one, I’d love to see what he could do with an expanded budget (National Treasure 3 is just waiting in the wings for this guy). Lunopolis is a celebration of science-fiction and conspiracy theories where each conspiracy we’ve circulated for years is canon and tied to a larger narrative. So dig deep into the annals of Netflix and dig up Lunopolis, you’ll witness something you won’t soon forget.