Sunday, July 5, 2009

Apollo 13

The famous quote "Houston, we have a problem" sums up Ron Howard's career so far. In fact, while he has done incredible films, one really wonders why he directed two films that were doomed to be bad (i.e. The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons). Well, hopefully, Howard manages to "come back in the game" (as we say it in hockey) with a good film. Now, if we get to the point, if you enjoyed watching Frost/Nixon, this one is a must-see film, especially if you like history.

During the Cold War, the USA and the USSR are in a race for the conquest of the space. After they've gone through a training process, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) are slated to fly Apollo 13, another mission to the moon. A few days before the launch in 1970, it's reported that Mattingly had been exposed to measles, which will cause him to be replaced by the backup Command Module pilot Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon).

Afterwards, as the space mission takes off, the USA is hoping that Lovell, Haise and Swigert will manage to land on the moon. However, during the flight of Apollo 13, Swigert is asked to stir the cryogenic oxygen tanks leading to an explosion in the service module. Besides, when it becomes obvious that Apollo 13 can't land on the moon, the three pilots must strive to go back on earth. Obviously, they'll do it with the help of the Houston's Mission Control Center, which is under the leadership of Eugene F. Kranz (Ed Harris).

Obviously, the first thing that impresses you in this film is definitely the cast's performance. Saying that the actors don't vie for our attention is a hell of an understatement. In fact, to use the metaphor of a hockey team, we have the feeling that all members of the cast (from the most important to the supporting members) perfectly know what they have to do in order to make this film the hit that it is. All in all, this goes without saying that the film is not just a homage to the three pilots of Apollo 13, but also to their families and the people who were working at the Houston's Mission Control Center (during the mission).

As for the script, needless to say that Ron Howard stayed true to his reputation, which means focusing on the event and shifting from one perspective to another. This is why the film has no difficulty to make a transition between the hope that Americans have toward Apollo 13 and, eventually, everyone's desire to see the three astronauts come back on earth alive. All in all, although the film's subject matter didn't really interest me, I'd like to tell you that this is one of the best historical dramas I've seen.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:USA (1995)
Length:140 minutes
Genre:Historical drama
Screenplay:William Broyle, Jr. and Al Reinart
Director:Ron Howard
Starring:Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan

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