Monday, July 13, 2015

Apollo 13

Based on the real events surrounding the flight of NASA's Apollo 13, director Ron Howard's 1995 film is arguably his best. (I'd put it neck-and-neck with the underrated Frost/Nixon.) Casting Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon as the three astronauts whose mission to the moon goes horribly wrong and Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Chris Ellis as those in Mission Control who help bring them home, Apollo 13 is a tense drama where knowing beforehand the ending somehow (despite all logic) doesn't hurt it's climactic final act.

Despite centering on one of the most memorable instances of something going wrong with the NASA space program, Apollo 13 is a celebration of the wonder and ingenuity that went into every aspect of the space program which was already beginning to lose its allure during Apollo 13's launch (as we see with news stations refusing to carry video from crew... at least until things get far more interesting when the lives of the astronauts were put in jeopardy).

Filled from top to bottom with a top-notch cast, 20 years later, and 45 years since the events covered in the movie actually took place, Apollo 13 still entertains. Recreating the look of every set piece for the film, Howard instantly transports us to a specific time and place where what could have been one of the greatest tragedies of NASA miraculously became something so cinematic that if it hadn't actually happened Hollywood would have had to invent it.

The new 20th Anniversary release on Blu-ray includes a pair of documentaries on Apollo 13 and the NASA space program, a new featurette looking back at the movie 20 years later, interviews with the astronauts, and the movie's trailer.

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