Easily Ron Howard's finest work, "Apollo 13" is a tense thriller and powerful drama all rolled into one. Now out on a 10th Anniversary DVD Edition, it's a good time to look back and realize just how extraordinary this movie is.
Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris all turn in tremendous performances as the astronauts and NASA employees who pulled off the miracle of a lifetime - bringing back three men stranded 200,000 miles away from Earth. I was only twelve when I first saw the previews for the movie and, not knowing anything about the real-life incident, laughed, shook my head and said, "How are we supposed to believe this?" I thought it was impossible.
This new DVD package comes with two versions of the film, the original theatrical release and the IMAX release. I don't know why you would want to watch the IMAX release, as not only are you not watching it on an IMAX screen but, due to the film capabilities of IMAX projectors, more than 20 minutes had to be cut. Film students might find it interesting to see what Ron Howard considered to be the least important parts of his Oscar-nominated movie, but to me it's just a travesty; every minute of the movie is excellent.
Also included on the DVD are some long and interesting features that you'd expect to watch in a classroom. Disc Two contains two excellent features, one that encompasses the entire fifty years of space exploration, the other that recounts the true story of the Apollo 13 mission. Two director's commentaries are also included, one from Ron Howard, the other from Jim and Marilyn Lovell. Another lengthy and in depth feature is included on the first disc which looks at the making of "Apollo 13." This feature was also available on the original DVD released several years ago and is most noteworthy for the fact that Lovell, among others, point out some changes that had to be made for dramatic reasons.
Anyway, little else need be said about the movie. "Apollo 13" is impressive in every way and form, from the acting to the visual effects, which still stand the test of time. To me, the music is what really drives the film forward; it threatens to be overly dramatic but instead turns out to be one of the most daring and powerful soundtracks to date.
If you don't own "Apollo 13," I'd highly recommend going out to the store on Tuesday and picking this baby up.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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