I had forgotten how good a movie APOLLO 13 is. Best Buy had the DVD on sale a couple of weeks ago for $10, so I picked it up. Watched it this afternoon, and it had to be the fastest 2 hours (and change) of a movie I’ve seen in quite some time. Ron Howard treats the subject with all due reverence, and presents a team of people working their hardest to save the lives of three heroes who let themselves be shot into space for a chance to walk on the moon. It’s the kind of thing that would be hokey as a piece of science fiction, but as the historical story that it is, it says a lot about the best of us. The CGI animation never fails to impress, except in one shot where Mattingly is looking at the Apollo craft from the distance that just screamed “blue screen.” The camera movements work in all the shots, such as the memorable blast off sequence and even the “check for go” sequence inside command and control.
There’s an amazing number of great and recognizable actors in this movie, including some I had forgotten about. Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, and Ed Harris get top billing, but then you also have to throw in Xander Berkeley (“George Mason” from 24), Kathleen Quinlan, and a host of character actors you’ll recognize, even if you can’t name. Jim Meskimen, a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” player from late in the British run, even made it.
Man, if you want a movie to make you cry over what’s become of the space program in the past 30 years, this is the one.
The DVD itself is done well. The anamorphic picture (2.35:1) looks great, even in the deep black areas. Sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and fills up the room during re-entry and blastoff. I would have loved to see a DTS soundtrack on this, but I’m more than happy with what we got. There’s also a commentary track from Jim Lovell and his wife, and a separate one with Ron Howard.
The DVD has been out for years now, but it still holds its own with all the special editions we’re getting today. That being said, I wouldn’t object to a new 2 disc set with an extra documentary on the Apollo 13 mission, itself.
For now, you can take a look at the details on the NASA site. Take a look at the pictures that are also available from the flight, including a look at the damaged module, as seen near the end of the movie. They did an amazing job in keeping the movie look just like the reality.
Update: A separate DTS edition of the movie was released at the same time as the regular edition. To make space for the DTS track, though, all of the extras (including the commentaries) were dropped. I’m not sure I’d want to make that trade off.