Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

APOLLO 13

Directed by Ron Howard (1995, Universal Pictures)
Starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese, Kevin Bacon, and Ed Harris

Three astronauts face death on the way to the moon, as ground controllers try to get them back.

 

 

4 stars

March 24th, 2017 on DVD for the 5th time

 
    It seems unfortunate that the only disaster journey to the moon is also the one that has the most dramatic effect, so that it could be made into a blockbuster movie. But that being said, the heroic efforts by the people on the ground, as well as the cinematic magic that made it into a story worth telling in this way, are so worthy of the tribute given here that I'm so glad they did. I showed this movie to my younger son to introduce him to the moon, and the way man went to the moon. It's an inspiring movie, for an inspiring topic.  

 

4 stars

March 4th, 2012 on DVD for the 4th time

 
    Fully engaging, and well presented, the music alone made emotions swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. The story itself bears remembering, of how people trained to handle adversity can come together and handle the kind of stress they never even dreamed of experiencing. There is so much to like about this film, and so much good story to it. I wonder how much negative thinking was actually going on in the control room -too much was shown on screen, for sure. I liked the way Gene Krantz told off anybody who thought the mission was going to end in failure. His character was depicted superbly.  

 

4 stars

January 19th, 2003 on DVD for the 3rd time

 
    This movie is truly a great account of what went on during those days of a damaged spacecraft just after the height of the Moon program. It has great characters, amazing effects, and a great story to tell.

In fact, this movie is just a snapshot of what the astronauts had to go through, since their trials were even worse than depicted in this movie. I've seen nit-pickers tear the movie apart, but I wonder why. It gets so many of the details right, and it must be expected that some things would be changed to suit the dramatic purposes of dramatization.

The only character that I thought could have used some work was Marilyn Lovell. Although she had much of the strength and courage that I would expect from that character, I also felt that something was missing. That isn't to say that she didn't have some great moments. She seems to chew the PR guy up terrifically every time they meet.

The movie really focuses on how this disaster affects the people involved. In that way, it's great that it starts so early, before Lovell is even assigned to the flight. We are allowed to experience his ability as a PR man, then his glee at getting the mission, his trouble and anger at having to replace one of his crew only days before the flight, and his patience at everything else, once the decisions have been made.

The story is really about the Commander; the other two are superficial, though important to the story. Once we get into space, we see the true characters of the astronauts -given the opportunity to act up, with no authority within reach, they will go as far as they can! Still, they are professionals, and that is also apparent, in that they get serious whenever something regarding their jobs comes up.

They really shine during the emergency, and this is where mission control really gets to shine, as well. This movie certainly didn't need much in the way of dramatic enhancement -so much went on, so much went wrong, that the only thing to do was to cram as much of it as possible without diluting the characters. Obstacle after obstacle was thrown at them, much like a simulator run, and they handled them all.

I think my favorite scene on the ground is when they discover that the carbon dioxide canisters are square in the command module, but round in the lunar excursion module! The process that they went through to get that device in the shortest amount of time was amazing!

The landing, of course, took a little longer than in real life, but worked beautifully in the movie. It was very heartfelt, in the Lovell living room, at their son's military academy, and in mission control.

I liked the technical nature of this film, as they don't explain what all the NASA acronyms mean, and yet we don't really feel the need to know. Having gone through Spacecamp, I understand most of the things said in mission control, but some elude me still!

The music was also great. It is something that I can listen to and feel the movie. It is very uplifting, somber when needed, and fully triumphant at the end. This is another terrific movie score. The main menu on this DVD supports the music, as it will play through the entire soundtrack score if allowed to sit long enough!

The best thing about the supplementary material on the DVD is the documentary "Lost Moon", which essentially takes us through important milestones in the movie and breaks it up with interviews with the cast, crew and some of the people who lived through that flight and are still alive to speak about it, including Jim Lovell himself. I was glued to the screen, absolutely mesmerized.

The only other feature, besides the unwatched director's commentary and unread cast and crew notes, is the trailer, which made me want to watch the movie all over again -that good.

This movie actually looks like NASA footage at some points. It looks very much like the scenes were taken from 1970. Amazingly, it looks more archival than it actually is, since only selected news reports actually come from that era. It's hard to get more dramatic than this kind of story, with three men who could have easily been lost on the way to the Moon. The heroics involved in getting them back were simply amazing, and that rocket -ah, that rocket is beautiful!
 

 

5 stars

December 1995 on Video for the 2nd time

 
    Realistic, and even though the ending is known, it is very suspenseful.  
   

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