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Apollo (13) Movie Review

awards howard lovell mission

1995 – Ron Howard –

Ron Howard's film about the 1970 Apollo space mission documents the near-tragedy of the mission 200,000 miles above the Earth when two oxygen tanks exploded, and the subsequent successful return of the astronauts. The launch takes place amid the growing indifference of the general public who have become blase over trips to the moon; one of the live telecasts from the capsule isn't even carried by the three networks. This lack of familiarity with the mission may add to the film's drama since most of the audience will know that the astronauts returned safely but might not know how they did so.

One of the impressive things about the script is the way it repeatedly takes complicated matters of math and science and makes them understandable to the audience. The problem of finding sufficient power for the lifeboat of the lunar module becomes more understandable and more compelling as the technicians make analogies to the power it takes to run a vacuum cleaner or work a coffee pot. The cutaways to television anchormen also furnish explanations that keep the strategies clear. The moon mission is aborted about an hour into the story, and the rest of the movie is really a drama of human ingenuity and clear-headedness in the face of physical danger and the tightening constraints of time.

The film therefore celebrates heroism in a somewhat uncommon but enormously refreshing way. What gets the mythic treatment is not the idea of space exploration or the even the glory of human curiosity but rather the work of nerdy guys in white shirts with slide rules who double-check the math and figure out how to take the everyday objects in the module—like socks and duct tape—and transform them into an impromptu survival kit. Howard deglamorizes parts of the hectic scenes when mission control springs into action by having them play out against a backdrop of chalkboards, overhead projectors, cluttered ashtrays, and Dixie-cup-littered counters. Paradoxically, such ordinariness sets off even more this brand of bravery. The movie makes being smart cool. The filmmakers discover genuine heroism and even patriotism in the old-fashioned American resourcefulness of savvy, quick-thinking minds and the poise of a steady hand at the control. In its grace under pressure, Apollo 13 is a Heming-wayesque space drama.

Cast: Tom Hanks (Jim Lovell), Bill Paxton (Fred Haise), Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert), Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly), Ed Harris (Gene Kranz), Kathleen Quinlan (Marilyn Lovell), Mary Kate Achellhardt (Barbara Lovell), Emily Ann Lloyd (Susan Lovell), Miko Hughes (Jeffrey Lovell), Jean Speegle Howard (Blanche Lovell), Tracy Reiner (Mary Haise), David Andrews (Pete Conrad), Michele Little (Jane Conrad), Chris Ellis (Deke Slayton), Joe Spano (NASA director), Marc McClure (Glynn Lunney), Clint Howard (EECOM White), Loren Dean (EECOM Arthur), Mark Wheeler (Neil Armstrong), Larry B. Williams (Buzz Aldrin), Rance Howard (Reverend), Roger Corman (Congressman), Jim Lovell (Iwo-Jima Captain) Screenwriter: William Broyles Jr., Al Reinert, John Sayles (uncredited) Cinematographer: Dean Cundey Composer: James Horner Producer: Brian Grazer for Universal and Image Entertainment MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 140 minutes Format: VHS, LV, DVD Awards: Academy Awards 1995: Editing, Sound; Nominations: Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction/Set Decoration, Supporting Actor (Ed Harris), Supporting Actress (Kathleen Quinlan), Original Dramatic/Comedy Score; Directors Guild of America Awards 1995: Director (Ron Howard); Screen Actors Guild Awards 1995: Supporting Actor (Ed Harris); Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 1996: Drama Actor, Theatrical (Tom Hanks); British Academy Awards 1995: Nominations: Cinematography; Golden Globe Awards 1996: Nominations: Film—Drama, Director (Ron Howard), Supporting Actor (Ed Harris), Supporting Actress (Kathleen Quinlan); MTV Movie Awards 1996: Nominations: Film, Male Performance (Tom Hanks); Writers Guild of America Awards 1995: Nominations: Adapted Screenplay Budget: $62M Box Office: $172M.

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