Apollo 13

Apollo 13 Cover
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.

4 thoughts on “Apollo 13

  1. Hey Colin,

    No, I haven’t seen it. I would like to, though. I may have to throw it on my birthday wish list next.

    By the way, I see Access Hollywood included APOLLO 13 this weekend in their list of the 25 Must Own DVDs. Made the top 10. #9, I think.


  2. I hope you live relatively near an IMAX theater. I took my daughter to see The Lion King IMAX and I was thrilled to see that this summer will see the debut of Apollo 13 in the IMAX format. I can’t wait.

    As far as DVD recommendations goes, For All Mankind is an excellent documentary style look at an Apollo mission, from launch to recovery. It goes into extensive detail using actual footage from a couple of the missions. It’s from Criterion, so you know it’s worth it.

  3. Hey Brandon,

    I’ve been trying to get to IMAX to see LION KING for a few weeks now. I went so far once to pre-order my tickets a few days in advance. Then it snowed that night and I couldn’t make it. No refunds. UGH

    Yes, I heard about APOLLO 13 on IMAX, and I definitely would give it a shot. There’s two problems with it, though: First, it’s pan and scan. Second, they have to cut 20 minutes out of it. IMAX can only handle 2 hours.

    Still, it’s all being done with Ron Howard’s guidance, so I imagine it will be done well. I kept it in mind as I watched the movie yesterday, and think I can even see a couple of bits they could cut out for space. I don’t know how they’ll get to 20 minutes, but they’re the professionals…

    Thanks for the FOR ALL MANKIND tip. Sounds interesting. I’ll keep an eye out.


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