I admit it, I don’t often give Ron Howard the director his due. The man made some really entertaining movies and handled some impressive and large-scale films. While he doesn’t have a distinctive visual style, his movies are always well crafted and often entertain. But one of my favorites has to be this glimpse into an incident that occurring during the Apollo moon missions that I never heard about… until this movie came out. Way to got high school history!
Astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) is finally going to go to the moon. With Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) at his side, they are going to make the Apollo 13 mission of 1970 one to remember. Little do they know that is going to be infamous instead of famous.
During their approach toward the moon, alarms go off followed by a horrifying sound and shaking of the module. The astronauts spring into action and find that technical and mechanical problems abound. Their oxygen is fading fast and key components of the ship are damaged beyond repair. Forget going to the moon, these three men have to worry about being able to get back to Earth. Luckily mission control has Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) on deck to help them out. But as the hours go by and the peril increases, the world waits to see if the Apollo 13 mission will be a tragic loss or a heroic victory.
- Howard captures the look of the era very well
- The film does a wonderful job building tension and anxiety
- The amazing cast does a fine job brining the movie to life
- No surprises here if you know about this historical event
- Lacks some of the artistry of something like The Right Stuff
- Tom Hanks is in it… one of 1 million movies he made in the 1990s
Just about everything in this movie works. It builds up anticipation for the Apollo 13 mission and allows you get to know the main characters. Then it puts them in peril and doesn’t let up until the final few minutes of the movie. It is a wonderful exercise in tension and suspense. But more than that, it shows how dangerous space travel was (and still is) and how it takes a huge team of people to pull off these amazing journeys. Visually the film holds up remarkably well, and despite a rather workmanlike approach to the material, this is one of Ron Howard’s best films.
Scores (out of 5)