Apollo 13 (DVD, 1998, Collector's Edition Widescreen)
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Apr 28, 2009 (Updated Apr 28, 2009)
Review by George Chabot
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Story, Direction, Acting, Perseverance
Cons:Not more movies this good
The Bottom Line: A great reenactment of a potentially doomed mission that somehow came out all right. Well worth watching.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Recommend this product?
Apollo 13 is the moon shot that wasn't. When Ron Howard decided to make the movie I had no idea why somebody would want to recognize the historical value of the Apollo space program. But after watching the movie a number of times, I'm glad he did. I can't say for sure how true to life the story depicted in Apollo 13, was, but I can say it seemed like it was true and that is probably as close as film can get to reality.
I remember the early space shots with the Mercury 7 astronauts because they happened when I was a kid in grade school. We were shown several of them on television in the classroom as history in the making. The subsequent Gemini and Apollo missions were dutifully presented on the networks but when the astronauts walked on the moon that was pretty much the end as nobody watched after Armstrong's famous walk with the words that have become a part of history - One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. They've cut out the "a" mostly when quoting but he originally said it as the radio broadcast came across the airwaves.
The networks stopped carrying the space shots after moon walk for the most part so it became harder to see them even if you wanted to.
This mission took place in 1970 a couple Apollo numbers after the famous moon shot (Apollo 11) where man first walked on the moon in 1969. In fact, Lovell was scheduled to go up in Apollo 14 but his mission was moved up a number when they were thought to be better prepared than the scheduled #13 crew headed by Alan Shepard. Apparently nobody thought the number 13 had any bad juju as they kept it in the rotation. They might have thought better as most tall buildings often skip the 13th floor and everybody dreads Friday the 13th...
Tom Hanks plays astronaut Jim Lovell, the guy who said "Houston - we've had a problem..." the quote from outer space that everybody remembers about the mission. Hanks is good at everything he plays but this movie transcends his ability; the whole blue ribbon cast seems particularly aptly chosen. The story comes from Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon which formed the basis for the screenplay.
Bill Paxton (Fred Haise) and Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert) played the other two astronauts that made it into space on the mission, but Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly) is the guy who got left behind because he was exposed to the mumps as the crew trained and fought the timeline to meet the launch window. Mattingly served as a great simulator as the ground crew tried to fathom how to bring the crew back from its trajectory as the wounded spacecraft flew on its way between Earth and Moon and Mattingly tried every idea under conditions similar to that under which the space crew would have to execute.
The movie shows the entire series of events from the preparation, to the mission, to the aftermath and shows it in a manner that only one who really understands the era could show it. Kathleen Quinlan plays Lovell's wife and really complements Hanks' performance. Ed Harris does a great job as the head of Mission Control. All the parts great and small are fleshed out exactly right and although the movie seems long (140 minutes) it is never dull.
The disk is from Universal, presented in color in 2.35:1 theatrical format running the whole 2 hours and 20 minutes of the theatrical release. The Widescreen Collector's Edition disk includes a making-of featurette, a special effects feature, and two commentaries: One by director Ron Howard and another by astronaut Jim Lovell and his wife Marilyn. Lovell, in fact wrote the book, Lost Moon, on which the story of the movie is based.
Apollo 13 is a great movie that will be a good idea to add to everyone's list.
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