Rated: PG Reviewed by: Frank Release date: June 30,1995 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
This is magnificent, spellbinding entertainment. The true story of the failed Apollo 13 mission is crafted and formed so well by Director Ron Howard he can't miss being nominated for an Academy Award.
When a film goes over the two hour mark there are usually low points and the audience gets restless, but not in Apollo 13. Every scene is riveting, thoughtful and filled with action. The three astronauts, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), are the centerpiece. They flew the 13th Apollo mission which exploded about 200,000 miles from earth on its way to the moon. If this were just a cockpit film only showing the astronauts, the tension and emotion would not have held. It would have been exciting but not as dramatic. Howard places great emphasis on the ground team attempting to return the ship and the wife of Lovell, played beautifully by Kathleen Quinlan. The ground team is lead by Ed Harris, one of the best actors in Hollywood and Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump), who are remarkable and equally compelling as the three stars in orbit.
The mission was labeled as a routine flight to the moon, therefore live broadcast from the spaceship was skipped by the networks. It became a major story worldwide when the oxygen cells sparked and exploded, blowing out the side of the spacecraft and crippling it. The three men in the capsule were heroes then and are more so now through this film.It was startling to me that many who viewed the film with me were not aware of the outcome of the flight. The film would be more compelling and exciting to watch if one did not know the ending. For kids that can be an exciting ride in space and a learning experience.
Ron Howard is quoted as saying "The truth is not boring." He's right, but it could be in the wrong hands. Howard has become a premier director; his work here cannot be praised enough. His actors are perfectly cast and performs brilliantly. Hooray for Howard. This is one of the best films of the year - perhaps the decade. It must be seen.