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  • Apollo 13
    • Apollo 13
    • Runtime:127 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-20 11:11:19
    • Director: Ron Howard
    • Genres: Adventure, Drama, History
    • Studio:


Based on a very dramatic event that got the globe coming together at
the time praying that the astronauts would be okay, Apollo 13's
realistic story and strong performances made it
not-better-but-as-good-as the real event. Apollo 13 was supposed to be
the third shuttle to land on the moon but an oxygen tank exploded and
the astronauts found themselves in a real situation. Going through hell
to get back to Earth, the guys finally made it and the world was happy.
An interesting story but very simple. Thanks to writers William Broyles
Jr. and Al Reinert, the story became a complex challenge of life or
death situation. Also helped by strong performances particularly from
Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan, Apollo 13 became an instant classic
when it came out in 1994.


The near tragic flight of unlucky Apollo 13 galvanized (at least for
the duration of the crisis) a nation grown predictably bored with the
Space Race after Neil Armstrong's historic one small step on the Sea of
Tranquillity one year earlier. But its unlikely Ron Howard's dramatic
re-enactment will have the same effect on moviegoers, however well
crafted and exciting it can be. The trio of marooned astronauts is
shown responding to their predicament with not unexpected fortitude,
but the film correctly identifies the true heroes as the aerospace
engineers who improvised a series of life-saving maneuvers using slide
rules, string, and sealing wax. The best moments, as a result, are
those at Mission Control in Houston, and the near documentary flavor of
these scenes generates surprising tension for such a familiar scenario
(facts aside, the outcome is never in doubt: high caliber stars like
Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon would never be allowed the indignity of a
slow death in outer space). Too bad the suspense is then diluted by
constant cross-cutting to flight commander Jim Lovell's anxious family:
Kathleen Quinlan may in fact be the real hero of the film for enduring
such a thankless token role (Mrs. Lovell's lonely vigil was certainly
every bit as brave as her husband's ordeal, but it belongs in another
movie altogether). The screenplay, credited to three writers (including
11th hour script doctor John Sayles) leans hard on space cowboy
techno-jargon, but at least it's convincing. Someone obviously did his
homework, and co-writer Al Reinert's experience making the 1990
documentary 'For All Mankind' (for which he watched five million feet
of NASA Apollo footage) was obviously a boon.


Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" tells the true story of the ill-fated lunar
mission of the same name from 1970. En route to the moon on a 'routine'
mission the vessel is practically crippled by a mechanical malfunction.
In short order the objective changes from landing on the moon to simply
making it home safely.

Based on astronaut Jim Lovell's book "Lost Moon", the screenplay sticks
pretty close to the facts. Certain tweaks were made for dramatic
effect, of course, but the filmmakers strove for authenticity. I, for
one, was surprised at how successfully the film built tension
considering the fact that the outcome is known to any who are already
familiar with the incident.

As for the cast, it's a good one. The lead, Tom Hanks, was fresh off of
back-to-back Oscar-winning performances in "Philadelphia" & "Forrest
Gump". Joining him as fellow astronauts were Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon &
Gary Sinise. Quite an enviable line-up, in my estimation. While none of
these individuals garnered Oscar nominations, Ed Harris & Kathleen
Quinlan both received nominations in supporting roles. Overall, the
cast was well-picked and without any weak links.

Ron Howard's underrated direction keeps the action flowing despite
being anchored to only a few sets for the vast majority of the picture.
Meanwhile, the Oscar-winning editing seamlessly integrates footage shot
in simulated zero gravity with footage shot conventionally. The
Oscar-nominated special effects are also both believable and
attractive. Finally, James Horner's score effectively contributes to
the mood of the piece.

Overall, "Apollo 13" is a captivating period piece that is constructed
with technical know-how and skillful performances. While "The Right
Stuff" is generally regarded as the top film based on the space program
I'd take "Apollo 13" any day.

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