|Quote from Gene Kranz: "Let's
look at this thing from a... um, from a standpoint of status. What
do we got on the spacecraft that's good?"
The basic story involves the ill-fated, true-life
mission to the moon, of Apollo 13, known as America's most successful
failure in the Apollo Space Program. When an explosion in the
oxygen tanks forces the astronauts to abort their moon landing
, Astronauts Jim Lovel, (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton)
and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) soon discover that not only must
they scrub their mission, but they may not be able to return to
Earth because of the severe damage done to their fuel and power
supplies. To add to their difficult situation, a variety of unforeseen
life-threatening challenges present themselves along the way in
their mishap adventure.
Back at NASA's Houston Control, the astronauts
are relying on the "steely-eyed missile men," led by
Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) to put their collective heads together
and find ways to figure out how the astronauts would get home
alive. A key person who is a tremendous help is Ken Mattingly
(Gary Sinise), the navigator that was supposed to go up with them
this trip, put was bumped by a NASA doctor because he was exposed
to measles. Jack Swigert was picked from the back-up team to replace
The story's second storyline covers the stress
and emotional turmoil of the families and friends of Jim Lovell
and Fred Haise, and the media frenzy over this dramatic life-threatening
situation in space. This Apollo 13 mission wasn't even covered
on TV until something went horribly wrong aboard the spacecraft.
Marilyn Lovell (Kathleen Quinlan ) had a bad feeling about this
mission, and has to hang on to every ounce of courage she has,
being an astronaut's wife. She must be strong for her family,
for the very pregnant rookie astronaut's wife, Haise, while putting
up with the fickle media.
The gripping screenplay was by William Broyles,
Jr., and Al Reinert, based on the book "Lost Moon" by
Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. Broyles went on to write the screenplay
for "Planet of the Apes" & "Cast Away."
Much of the credit for this film must go to it's
director... Ron Howard. It was one of his best efforts, and well
deserving of his Oscar nomination. Many feel he should have won.
Howard did win a best director Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind"
at the 2002 Academy awards.
The talented cast delivers great acting, bringing
the screenplay to life, fully putting the audience on the front
row of the action and drama of this historic event.
Ed Harris stands out as Gene Kranz who was the
determined head of the Houston Control Center. Ed Harris earned
a nomination for best supporting actor. Gene Kranz Quote: "We've
never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not going
to lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option."
Tom Hanks excels as Jim Lovell, the levelheaded
team leader, bringing out the strong points of the script with
his performance. He also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
All three astronauts, Paxton, Bacon and Hanks,
individually and together as an ensemble, did a terrific job portraying
three men in big trouble, who are now stuck in a lifesaving, flying
tin can, known as the Lem, which was designed to support two men
on the moon, for three days. Acting was superb, and the entire
cast was topnotch.
Kathleen Quinlan is convincing as Marilyn Lovell, the hard-pressed
wife of Jim Lovell, who makes the audience cheer when she has
the opportunity to tell a media representative off but good!
One of the most exciting, suspenseful moments
is when the oxygen tank blows, causing major damage, and marks
the beginning of their battle to get home alive. A routine stirring
of the oxygen tanks by Swigert turns a routine space flight into
a heart-pumping, nail biting test of courage and endurance for
The film does a great job showing what went on
at the control center, how solutions to serious, difficult problems
were worked out, by "steely-eyed missile men." All
through the film, real T.V. coverage of the actual event with
Walter Cronkite is used, as well as new footage filmed for the
The film won Oscars for Film Editing and Sound.
An excellent example of why it did, is the scene when Hanks, Bacon,
and Paxton first blast off into space. Through the use of of sound,
great photography, and excellent FX and model work, you really
get a feel of the thrill, and terror, of rocketing up into space.
The film won Oscars for Film Editing and Sound.
The film's music, by James Horner, is stirring. From the film's
opening moments, the score sets an inspiring mood, and enhances
dramatic moments nicely.
The film benefits from great pacing. Film editors Mike Hill and
Dan Hanley deserve some of the credit.
Much effort was taken, involving great sets and locations to convince
us we're in the 70s. It works!
The film is a future classic because of the way it takes a historical
event with a known outcome (the real astronauts of Apollo 13 DID
make it back safe and sound) and manages to create suspense over
the outcome. In addition, its can do story of American ingenuity
under stress, is a proud, patriotic feel good film experience.