Apollo 13 is number 178 of our top 200 movie list. It is directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. Apollo 13 is rated PG.
This movie is based on the real life NASA mission from 1970 where Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) were on a shuttle originally intended to land on the moon when an oxygen tank explosion and the quintessential phrase “Houston we have a problem” brings the plan crashing to a halt. Not only will they not be landing on the moon but there is a good chance they won’t be able to even make it home.
One of the things I love most about this movie is the authenticity. From the clothes to the vehicles to the computers and accessories, every single detail is realistic to the time period. It really feels like it was filmed in the seventies. I also really appreciate the character development. Lovell, portrayed by Tom Hanks is a loving family man, he is a born leader and it is his life dream to walk on the moon. Swigert, played by Kevin Bacon, is a flashy single guy who probably gets all the girls because he is an astronaut and Haise, portrayed by Bill Paxton, is a lighthearted young husband and father. The story flows so well that you get to know each astronaut without even realizing what is happening.
Lovell’s family, especially his wife and young son, have some apprehension about him blasting into space, especially considering the explosion and death of crew members aboard an earlier Apollo mission. He convinces them of his safety and the launch goes off without a hitch until one engine cuts off prematurely. Flight Director (Ed Harris) gives the go ahead and they continue on their flight plan assuming they’ve experienced their glitch for the trip.
A few days later during a routine stirring of the oxygen tanks there is an explosion and their precious oxygen can be seen venting into space. Immediately the crew, as well as mission control below, spring into action. Failure is not an option and it is a tribute to American ingenuity to see the team pull together in an effort to save their crews lives.
This movie will leave you on the edge of your seat and the inspiring sound track only adds to the enjoyment. I applaud Ron Howards direction and am just in awe of this movie. You know it’s a good one when you could watch it once and then immediately a second time through and still be mesmerized.
Apollo 13 is one of those movies for me that can keep me on the edge of my seat even though I know the outcome. I have found that most movies that are based on a true story have a hard time capturing the raw emotion people would have felt watching it on their television sets or in person. However, with the brilliant work from the director Ron Howard and a wonderful job from an A-list cast this movie brings the Apollo 13 mission to life in a very convincing way.
Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 vividly reconstructs the nail biting event using Jim Lovell’s and Jeffrey Kluger’s book Lost Moon. Howard uses almost a documentary style to tell this story and it works incredibly well. What made this movie so riveting to me is the fact that Howard blends the sides of the story into one fine-tuned piece. He shows the raw emotion of Lovell’s wife and family as they deal with the problems that Lovell and his space crew face onboard Apollo 13, the NASA crew in Houston as they try to figure out a way not only to keep the crew alive in space but also to land safely back home, and of course, the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 as they have to keep their emotions in check and their wits about them knowing that any moment may be their last.
What truly made this movie for me is the fact that Howard stays true to the story that is Apollo 13 and gives the audience that story and not some manipulated cinematic tale to add even more drama to an event that already has plenty. I am happy that he did not get bogged down in any sociological or political back story of Richard Nixon being president, the counterculture movement of the late 60s early 70s, or the Vietnam war that had divided the country. Howard keeps the focus where it needed to be which was the Astronauts, their crew in Houston, and their families back home. This is a movie that is worth watching especially with young adolescents and preteens because it tells a story of what is possible despite setbacks and unaccomplished goals and for that I give it four and half shells out of five.