It has many of the elements that make a film appealing to the public. Apollo 13 is suspenseful (despite the fact that you know how it is going to end), filled with great special effects, involves actors that are likeable and turn in strong performances, and a story that involves humans being courageous against all odds. All these elements led to the film doing very well at the box office and earning 9 Academy Award nominations.
It is based on the true story that occurred when Apollo 13 in 1970 attempted a landing on the moon. The subsequent malfunctioned put the lives of the entire crew in jeopardy and this story had Americans riveted to their television for days following their attempt to return to Earth. It was one of those rare times in human history where it seemed like the whole world stood still and it proved that the individual or three individuals still mattered. When machines fail we can rely on humans to get us through.
In 1969 man had walked on the moon. Less than one year later Apollo 13 was slated to make what was judged to be a “routine” space flight and landing on the moon. A mere six months before take-off Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks – Splash, Philadelphia) and his team, Fred Haise (Bill Paxton – Titanic, Edge of Tomorrow) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise – The Green Mile, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), were changed from back up crew to the men who were going to voyage on Apollo 13 to the moon. Shortly before they were to take off measles showed up in Ken Mattingly’s, the pilot, blood tests. He could not go and so young pilot, Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon – Footloose, Mystic River), was brought on board.
Take off goes smoothly as does everything else until they approach the moon. An explosion occurs and oxygen and fuel tanks are gone. The crew is definitely not going to land on the moon and NASA begins working hard in the command centre led by Gene Kranz (Ed Harris – Gravity, Gone Baby Gone) to try to get them back to Earth. It is said that there was only a 10 percent chance of them returning. “Houston, we have a problem” becomes the most harrowing words ever spoken in space.
The actors and director Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind) have to be commended for making this film feel so realistic. True events are re-created here and for two hours we are riveted.
Besides the strong ensemble cast what was note perfect was the special effects – meaning the amount used versus actual stock footage used and the quality of what was done. Special effects can often make or break a film. Use crappy or too much and you have shot your film in the foot, but if you get it right you can elevate the realism and quality of the film. For example, zero gravity in space films is a tricky thing to get right and it is well done in Apollo 13.
This is not only entertaining, but education as well. Anyone who is interested in the NASA program and space exploration should take the time to watch this film.
- Feature Commentary with Jim and Marilyn Lovell
- Feature Audio Commentary with Director Ron Howard
- Apollo 13: Twenty Years Later
- Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13
- Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond
- Lucky 13: The Astronaut’s Story
- Theatrical Trailer
- U-Control Access:
- The Apollo Era