Apollo 13 is the subject and title of Ron Howard’s masterpiece, based on the true life story of the ill-fated mission to the moon that blasted off on April 11th, 1970. Adapted from the novel, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, written by James Lovell (mission commander), and journalist, Jeffrey Kluger. Apollo 13 the movie goes to great pains to create an accurate account of the mission, while also taking just enough liberties with the published record to create a tense, yet entertaining drama that runs the gamut of human emotion.
The beautifully adapted screenplay by Al Reinert and William Broyles Jr., uses this true life event to explore the very best and worst of us. In fact, this movie is one of the best explorations of the human condition I can recall. Difficult problems are presented, both technical and emotional, and this film does an impeccable job balancing out screen time to properly explore every important aspect of this story. From Kathleen Quinlan’s Oscar nominated turn as James Lovell’s wife, Marilyn, to Ed Harris’s equally great performance (also Oscar nominated) as the stoic flight director, Gene Kranz. Each of these characters has to skillfully navigate every possible reaction to this dilemma, both good and bad. From the young boy who doesn’t understand how serious the situation is, to the mission control personnel who either work the problem, or try to cover their asses!
Ron Howard’s ode to human ingenuity pulses along at a perfect pace, and manages to refrain from any cheesy histrionics until the end of the film – when we’re good a ready for them. Performances from the rest of the cast, including, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinise are also superb. The impressive visual effects complement the story perfectly, and it seems everyone from the production design people, right through to the sound mixing folks, brought their A-game to this production.
Apollo 13 is a classic film. It has permanently cemented the term ‘Houston, we have a problem’ into the moviegoers lexicon. And manages to take an all-encompassing and historically accurate look at an important period in American history, and NASA’s space program. Yet keeps each aspect of the tale relevant and interesting throughout its 220 minute running time, without resorting to too much exposition to explain the more technical details in the film.
You don’t need to be a science fiction fan, or be interested in the space program or engineering to enjoy this film. This is just good well acted drama. For fans of any of the A-list actors in this film, this is a must see. This movie is rated PG and is suitable for the entire family, though younger kids may find some moments a little too intense.
This film is best served on the big screen at your local theater, and at home a HD screening on your nice big TV is the best way to go. Watching this on a portable screen is not recommended, and will reduce the impact of this classic film.
I love the scene where a team of engineers at mission control collect a pile of parts and basically rig a square CO2 filter to fit a circular hole! It would have been cool (silly, but cool) if the A-Team TV show theme played as they got to work!