|Reviewed by: Frank|
|April 1, 1999|
In October of 1957 the Soviet Sputnik became the first man made satellite in space. Everyone looked to the sky to watch the small bright light as it flew around the Earth at seventeen thousand five hundred miles per hour. Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal), and his three friends were fascinated and began a trek toward building and testing their own rockets. Homer's father (Chris Cooper) a cole mine supervisor was unimpressed, he expected Homer to follow the family business into the mines.
The strength and destruction which arises in father son relationships is at the heart of this story, and is the driving memory of Hickam's journey toward NASA.
Cooper's performance as the intense dedicated and fair minded mine supervisor is stunningly real. He expresses love in muted fashion, no hugs, positive words and no pats on the back. It takes success to bring him in to the fold of admiers his son leads. Homer perceived early on, the futility of a dying industry filled with danger and when miner 273, a friend who helped build the metal for the rockets is killed, the teen knows he must follow his own direction. His teacher (Laura Dern) is his most important ally, she must even stand against her principal to further the dream.
Music from the fifities is carefully chosen to highlight the emotions of the characters and lighten the load as the initial rockets explode and crash. Director Joe Johnston, brings the emotion of family relationships, the excitement of a state wide contest, the comedy of failure, unconventional gathering of supplies and hopes of a small town together in an exceptional creation.