Apollo 13 Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 16, 2012
They got everything right with this one. Ron Howard's masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2012
This is the bast space-themed movie ever. I had no idea of the true-life drama that went on during the space program but director Ron Howard presents it perfectly. Strong performances by Hanks and Sinise. Ed Harris is pich perfect.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
To make a compelling and enthralling film about an event the outcome of which is pretty well known is not exactly easy. It does help, of course, if you can rely on names like Hanks, Sinise, Harris or Bacon. In the end, it only works if everyone involved delivers their best. This is one of those cases. Director Ron Howard knows exactly which buttons to push to get a reaction from the audience. And so we are sitting there, on the edge of our seats, even though we know A13 made it home in one piece against all odds. It's just so incredibly well done from the script, acting, music, camera work to the great Zero G special effects. An outstanding history lesson and perfect entertainment.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2011
Dramatically stunning, and at times at the profound level, Apollo 13 is a magnificent retelling of the doomed Apollo space mission. It succeeds in fleshing out the heroism and determination in what is the quintessential modern story of mankind's greatest adventure and victory over adversity.
Super Reviewer
March 22, 2011
Apollo 13 is a incredible, beautiful, and truthful adventure film that shows that Ron Howard is one of the best Directors in Hollywood. The4 story is true and almost completely makes me feel like I was with them and in their time period, what a truly detailed story of three heroes of the world. The cast is great, Tom Hanks never lets me down, Bill Paxton is great, and Kevin Bacon is just always awesome I think. The special effects are where the film comes in 1st, I mean never before will a film show you the wonders of space and such a realistic version of it, I give major props to the special effects team. Apollo 13 is the worlds greatest interpretation of the adventure that changed the world, and I can honestly say its always a treat watching this film, I love it.
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2009
The merits of Apollo 13 reside in the perfection of the image and sound editing, in Hanks's charm as the leading actor and the very conventional screenplay and direction. Maybe even a bit too conventional to manage to be the masterpiece it could have been, given the inspiring event it is based on. But altogether, it is a thrilling and memorable piece of filmmakng.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2011
Notwithstanding the kicking he deserved for The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, Ron Howard remains a deeply underrated filmmaker. Even at his critical and commercial peak he was dismissed as 'Spielberg-lite', being able to achieve that same awkward emotional moment but without the heart-stopping spectacle to get away with it. But Apollo 13 defies all such snootiness, being both a damn fine docudrama and an action film which gives Jurassic Park a run for its money.

The comparison between Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard is not entirely misplaced. Apart from their common desire to pull on our heartstrings, both learned their trade in low-budget exploitation filmmaking: Spielberg made Duel for ABC television, while Howard made Grand Theft Auto for Roger Corman. This background in low-budget, rough-around-the-edges movie-making not only taught these directors to work fast and cheaply, but showed them how to tell a dramatically interesting story as entertainingly and efficiently as possible.

But whereas Spielberg has often come a cropper in his more 'serious' dramatic works, Howard has more often than not managed to maintain a balance between profundity and popcorn thrills. In Apollo 13 he pulls off the same trick that Alan J. Pakula managed on All The President's Men - namely taking an event whose outcome is well-known and wringing out huge amounts of tension, so that the truth becomes more extraordinary than any fiction. So successful was Howard in this that after one of the test screenings, one audience member responded that they hated the film, criticising the unbelievable "Hollywood ending" in which everyone made it back alive.

Where All The President's Men created tension through conflicting information and the political pressure on journalists, Apollo 13 begins by planting in the audience's mind small seeds of doubt about the mission. Some of this is obvious, with the astronauts joking about taking a pig into space to combat the bad luck of the number 13. But other scenes are equally effective at making us feel uneasy about the fortunes of Jim Lovell and his crew. Individually, Marilyn losing her ring in the shower or Ken Mattingly getting the measles wouldn't be enough to get us worried. But Howard structures these moments as milestones on the countdown to disaster; because we don't pick up on everything the first time round, the pay-off still comes as a surprise.

When this tensions spills over into space, with the arguments over who or what caused the explosion, the film interposes docudrama was old-school sci-fi. In amidst all the procedural dialogue and the individual races against time, we get a number of touching fantasy sequences which use outer space to focus on inner space. In one such sequence, Tom Hanks imagines himself walking on the moon; in a scene reminiscent of The Ninth Configuration, Howard contrasts the silent awe of the moon's surface with the quiet despair on Lovell's face from inside the lunar module.

The production team of Apollo 13 made every effort to make the film as factually accurate as possible, right down to using the mission transcripts as the basis for all the dialogue. Under other circumstances you might expect the finished film to be tedious, something which would avoid the wrath of NASA purists but have no way in for the casual viewer. But Apollo 13 is completely populist and extraordinarily light on its feet; you get the sense that it was made as a labour of love, rather than just out of duty to get the facts right.

During the production, NASA trained the three main actors about all the controls of the lunar module, making Tom Hanks memorise the functions of all 500 buttons on the control panel. After this the module set was built inside a fully functioning fixed-wing aeroplane, which would fly parabola flights to create weightlessness for 30 seconds at a time. It took over 600 such flights to get 4 hours of useable footage.

This approach to shooting is what makes Apollo 13 a great film rather than a good one. On the one hand, it demonstrates Howard's commitment to his actors - unsurprisingly, considering that's how he started out. By recreating weightlessness, he gives Hanks et al the chance to relax into their roles which they wouldn't get from being winched around in harnesses or jumping around against green-screen. On the other hand, these scenes are technically superb because of the choice of camera angles. Because shooting could take place on any angle and drift around at will, we feel like an active, curious observer, allowing things to unfold more naturally than if we were rooted to the spot.

These scenes are complimented by the brilliant cinematography. The film is shot by Dean Cundey, John Carpenter's long-time cinematographer whose only previous brush with space was on the little-known 1980 B-movie Galaxina. Despite this, he seems at home amongst the stars, achieving the perfect shades of white and black inside and outside the Apollo rocket. Special kudos should be accorded to the way in which the real-life footage of the rocket and actors is merged with the CG and model work showing the flailing exterior. It looks completely seamless, and unlike a lot of CG-heavy films the use of naked flames looks and feels realistic.

Apollo 13 also solves the problem of so many fact-based dramas, namely the integration of stock or archive footage and the dramatic reconstructions. In Howard's later film, Frost/Nixon, there was a mismatch between the two where characters crossed over; footage of the real-life Richard Nixon would feed into scenes of Frank Langella playing him, and no matter how good the performance was, the effect was jarring. Howard makes a clear effort this time around, shooting the TV interviews and newscasts on grainier stock so that it actually looks like old TV. We therefore believe that the passing comments of Dick Cavett and Walter Cronkite are coming from the same era (indeed, the latter actually came in to re-dub his classic broadcasts).

But there is more to Apollo 13 than just the mission. The film takes an intelligent look at the level of public interest in the moon landings, as Howard contrasts the optimism towards Apollo 11 with the gradual disengagement of the American people only a year later. Again this is explored through subtle hints, whether it's the TV stations not showing Lovell's broadcast live, Marilyn mentioning she might not come to the launch, or Lovell's daughter being more bothered about The Beatles breaking up. The film touches on the idea that the public only become interested in something when things go horribly wrong - a comment which seems all the more biting in today's car-crash celebrity culture.

The performances in Apollo 13 are little short of superb. Following on from back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks continues to embody the likeable American everyman even in the most extraordinary of circumstances. He is totally believable as Jim Lovell, and is complimented beautifully by his co-stars Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon, who both give the best performances of their respective careers. On the ground Ed Harris remains eternally underrated as Flight Director Gene Kranz, and there is a very fine supporting performance by Gary Sinise, who would collaborate with Hanks again on The Green Mile.

Apollo 13 is one of Ron Howard's finest achievements and remains a remarkable piece of filmmaking. The sterling work of the cast is beautifully complimented by his direction, which is technically proficient, innovative and deeply involving. There are moments in which the sentimentality doesn't quite work - the grandmother, for instance, is played too broadly and feels like a screenwriter's device. But as an overall piece which straddles fact and fiction, it is very hard to dislike and a hard act to follow.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2007
Technically a very well done movie, and perhaps Ron Howard's best, if perhaps a little stiff.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2011
A phenomenal movie - and a landmark Tom Hanks film.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2007
Oscar winning movie about a failed space mission to the moon. Great cast.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2010
Along with Backdraft, Apollo 13 is one of Ron Howards ultimate best films. The film chronicles the failed mission to the moon and the ensuing rescue attempt to bring them home. A film that is both spectacular and powerful, Apollo 13 is a superbly crafted drama film. One of things that Apollo 13 does very well is building up the tension. Obviously we all know that the astronauts came back home safely, but still there always is a feeling of tension going on throughout the film from the point where theres an explosion on board the spacecraft to the safe landing. Every time I watch Apollo 13, I get that same feeling. Ron Howard's brilliant directing makes this possible, and you always get that same feeling every time you watch it. Ron Howard has assembled a great cast of actors to portray the astronauts. Tom Hanks plays Jim Lovell, Bill Paxton plays Fred Haise and Kevin Bacon plays Jack Sigert. They play the Apollo 13 astronaut with much respect to the real astronauts who flew the near fatal mission. Gary Sinise plays Ken Mattingly, the original Command module pilot. Mattingly still plays a vital role in the story as he tries to find a way to get as much power from the crafts battery to restart the craft. Ron Howard strips away the traditional way of telling a story big Hollywood overtones. Instead, Howard tells the story of Apollo 13 like it was using fact instead of fiction. The film is very technical and rich in detail. Every aspect of the story has been covered with tremendous respect from the real life incident. Apollo 13 is a well acted, well told and well directed drama film. This is without a doubt Ron Howards best film. A powerful drama film, Apollo 13 tells a story about a failed mission, but also that it was a success due to the fact that they all came back safe. This is a film that has definitely aged well, and doesn't look dated whatsoever. A fine masterful film, Apollo 13 is a must see film, and what I appreciate the most about the film is that they didn't try to romanticize the story sort of like Titanic, they told it like fact and stayed true to the historical background of the film. The film is not cliche trite or boring. Apollo 13 remains a solid historical film that tells it like is and doesn't use a made up story to make the film seem emotionally charged. If you must watch one Ron Howard film, make it Apollo 13.
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2010
Ron Howard's Oscar winning "Apollo 13" is competently made in every aspect. Masterful cinematography by the now legendary Dean Cundey and flawless editing solidify "Apollo 13" as the American history classic it is today. With fine tuned performances from Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan; brining an intensely human side to the scientific proceedings, "Apollo 13" is thrilling, inspiring and uplifting. Minus the hokey narration at the end, it's a pretty flawless film.

"Apollo 13" is the anti "Armageddon".
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2010
Super Reviewer
July 25, 2006
I came into this expecting very much and wanting to be able to learn about what happened from this film. I decided not to read up about the event as I wanted to learn from the film. I did expect it to be better and not as boring as what it was. I know it was an account of the real events however this is Hollywood so I expected a bit more drama. The acting was really good and it really enhanced the whole experience. I did think it was funny when the grandma asked if Neill Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were astronauts too.
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2009
It was an average film with a great cast, nothing more. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton are all extremely talented and work well together. However, the plot is hollow and nothing more but a recounting of historical events. It lacks a visual personality from Ron Howard and is one of his weaker films.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2009
Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and many of his family members and friends have just seen the first man (Neil Armstrong) walk on the moon. Jim is an astronaut, and right away, he gets the idea that he also wants to walk on the moon if it's the last thing he does.
Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) share that dream just as much as Jim does. Will the three friends and colleagues be able to make it through all the training exercises to prove their worthiness of taking an out of this world trip? If so, will Apollo 13 safely make it to the moon? These are a couple of questions to keep in mind while you watch this 1995 classic called "Apollo 13".

"Apollo 13" is a great movie in many ways. First of all, it has great acting (how can you go wrong with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Ed Harris?) and it was directed by one of the best directors, Ron Howard. If you're either an action or drama fan, then you'll see plenty of it in this movie. "Apollo 13" also has great special effects, but it is not a movie that relies a great deal on eye-popping effects.

You'll be hooked to the screen while you watch this thrilling story of a man's dream to go to the moon. You'll see both unforgettable triumphs and suspenseful struggles. If you like suspense, drama, action, or trips to the moon, add "Apollo 13" to your collection today! NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2002. Never thought this movie was worth all the hype it earned, or received, but still a classic.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2009
an extremely moving story about the successful failure, a beautiful oxymoron of a film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 31, 2009
Very very good and very accurate film about the real life events of the Apollo space mission. The cast are perfect and pull off their roles very well (and I mean the entire cast) the look and effects are brilliant and the plot is run exactly as it happened in reality.
Powerful and emotional this film is a true epic and pretty much perfect, its a history lesson in movie form.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2008
A movie based on what was to be the third lunar-landing mission. This film shows the trials and tribulations of the Apollo 13 crew, mission control, and families after a near-fatal accident cripples the space vehicle. A mission that couldn't get TV airtime because space flights had become routine to the American public suddenly grabbed the national spotlight. This is a tale of averted tragedy, heroism and shows a testament to the creativity of the scientists who ran the early space missions.

A good movie that manages to shed off an otherwise complicated and technical subject on the particulars of going' to the moon without alienating the audience but rather, somehow exemplifies all the danger, drama, and thrill of exploration of space travel itself. No mean task but it pulls it off well.

I myself am no space fanatic, but this really made me consider how amazing it is. The effects were done so well in this movie and the acting was great. Tom Hanks played Jim Lovell better than anybody else could have, and I thought Bill Paxton was even better as Fred Haise. It is a bit long at points, and sometimes a little boring, but then it picks right back up again. Ed Harris was spectacular and commanding in the film. The ending, though, was the best part, as it usually is, because of the great music and the excitement. I would heavily recommend this to an older audience and not younger kids. But they could see it too and still be impressed.

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