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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Apollo 13

Warning: There will be spoilers.  I'm not sure the warning is necessary since the movie came out in 1995 and it holds pretty true to a historical event, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

I know I'm late to Apollo 13. The movie has been out for 20 years, but I've just seen it. I'm not even sure why I didn't watch it earlier because it's about space, astronauts, adventure, and there's plenty of suspense--a lot of my favorite things.

Probably everyone knows the plot of the movie. A mission to the moon has an explosion that throws the astronauts survival into question. The revised mission is to get the men back to Earth safely. And to quote the movie, "Failure is not an option."

I actually watched the movie because the Smithsonian Channel has a show where they compare the movie version of a historical event to the real life version. I watched the Apollo 13 episode and immediately wanted to see the movie. If you're curious, the movie was actually pretty close to real life. The biggest thing I remember being wrong was that the astronauts said there wasn't any arguing/conflict. They also mentioned that Ron Howard told them that he couldn't just show sweat running down their brows, he needed some tension for the film.

I thought the movie was awesome--once it got started. The beginning for me with the party seemed unnecessary for me, and when I rewatched Apollo 13, I skipped right past to when they actually blasted off. The rest seemed extraneous. Perhaps this was meant to bond us with Tom Hanks' Jim Lovell, but for me, it was just filler.

Then there was the scene where the wife lost her ring in the shower. Um, why was that there? To hint at the bad luck aspect of the mission? That's the only guess I have since there was no other mention of the ring throughout the entire film.

The other part that kind of left me going, huh? was a scene aboard the space capsule. When Bill Paxton's Fred Haise is cold and sick and Tom Hanks is trying to keep him warm and Haise mentions that his wife's pregnancy was an oops. Really? Did we need to know this? If it's true, I feel kind of bad for the real-life kid seeing this info broadcast to the world. If it isn't true, why put it in the movie at all? Actually, either way, it didn't need to be in the film. It added nothing.

Oh, one other thing the movie got wrong. The cause of the explosion. I understand, though, why they went with it. The real cause was more complicated and I'm not sure I could even describe it without messing it up. The movie's explanation was a lot simpler and was close enough for me, although I'm sure engineers everywhere would argue it wasn't close enough.

The voice over at the end with the explanations of what happened to each character in real life after the Apollo 13 mission wasn't my favorite thing ever. Maybe because it was kind of sad to know that Lovell never got to walk on the moon and Swigart died of cancer. The astronauts making it safely back to Earth was such an exciting, upbeat ending and then there comes the downer voice over. I think I would have preferred that the narration had just covered the cause of the explosion (approximation that it was) and left it there.

I got a little nitpicky here and I really shouldn't have. I loved this movie and would totally watch it again if the opportunity arose.

On a scale of 1-10, I give it an 8. Highly recommended.