Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Apollo 13: 2-Disc Anniversary Edition

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
10 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell
Bill Paxton as Fred Haise
Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert
Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly
Ed Harris as Gene Kranz
Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell
Mary Kate Schellhardt as Barbara Lovell
Emily Ann Lloyd as Susan Lovell
Miko Hughes as Jeffrey Lovell
Max Elliott Slade as Jay Lovell
Jean Speegle Howard as Blanch Lovell
Tracy Reiner as Mary Haise
David Andrews as Pete Conrad
Michele Little as Jane Conrad
Chris Ellis as Deke Slayton

Special Features:
Includes both Theatrical Version and IMAX Version

Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

Feature Commentary with Jim and Marilyn Lovell

"Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13"

"Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond"

"Lucky 13: The Astronaut's Story"

Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Anniversary Edition - Widescreen (2.35:1)
IMAX Experience Version Ė (1.66:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Anniversary Edition Running Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes
IMAX Experience Version Running Time: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

Synopsis:
Apollo 13 was originally released in 1995. It was re-released in an edited IMAX format in 2002. The following is from the DVD cover:

ďNominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Apollo 13 is now available in an incredible 2 -Disc Anniversary Edition with never-before-seen bonus materials. Produced by Academy Award winner Brian Grazer and directed by Oscar winner Ron Howard, Apollo 13 stars Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris in the inspiring and riveting story of the real-life space flight that gripped a nation and changed the world.Ē

Apollo 13 is rated PG for language and emotional intensity.

The Movie:
Iíll start out by saying that Apollo 13 is a film thatís near and dear to my heart. I live in Houston, so Iíve grown up immersed in the space program hype. I was fascinated by it growing up. And as an adult, I had the privilege of getting a VIP tour of the original Mission Control room (along with the actor who played Boba FettÖ.long story). Throw in some of my favorite actors, composer, and director and you see why I loved Apollo 13.

Since this movie is so old and so acclaimed, chances are youíve probably already seen it. And if youíve already seen it then you know if you want to add it to your DVD collection. If you havenít seen it, here are a few reasons why Apollo 13 is worth checking out.

First off, thereís the story. Not only is it an amazing look at the history of the space program, but itís a harrowing tale of survival and of perseverance in the face of adversity. Going to the moon alone was an amazing technical achievement, but bringing someone back when everything went wrong was an equally impressive engineering feat. The story gives equal focus to the astronauts, the Mission Control engineers, and the families of the astronauts. It all comes together to give the tale great emotional impact. Itís a memorable snapshot of the human spirit. Many of the lines from the script have gone on to be legendary thanks to the emotional weight put behind them. Who hasnít heard, ďFailure is not an optionĒ or even ďHouston, we have a problemĒ? They wouldnít have been nearly as memorable if audiences hadnít been so engrossed in the story.

Next up, thereís the cast. You have Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinese, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan, and more. All of them have proven themselves to be first rate actors in the past and they do so again in this film. Thereís not much need for me to tell you how great they are.

Then, of course, thereís the cinematography. They shot this film inside one of those planes that that simulates zero gravity (the KC-135). So rather than having actors floating around on wires, they had realistic looking weightlessness. It gave them film an authentic look at feel unlike any other. That drive for realism is reflected throughout the film in the sets, the dialogue, the effects, and more. The special effects were particularly noteworthy in the scenes of the rocket launch. The effects, camera angles, and attention to detail were so impressive that even real astronauts thought some of it was actual footage of a launch.

Finally, thereís the music. James Horner perfectly captures the mood of the film from the thrill of the launch to the suspense of the reentry. The Apollo 13 score ends up being one of his best ever.

So if you havenít seen Apollo 13, youíre missing out. This is a perfect opportunity to own it on DVD and check it out for yourself. Itís not only a great movie, but it will give you greater appreciation for NASA and the space program. And if youíve already seen it, then you know what Iím talking about.

The Extras:
If you already own Apollo 13 on DVD, then youíll be glad to hear that thereís not much new on this DVD for you. The only items that havenít been offered before are the IMAX version of the film and a documentary on the history of the U.S. space program. But if you donít own Apollo 13 on DVD, you may find the previous edition to be better than this 10th Anniversary Edition. It features all the best extras of this edition as well as Bill Paxtonís home movies, a closer look at the effects, and a comparison between real NASA footage and the movie effects. Hereís what youíll find on this 10th Anniversary Edition:

IMAX Version Ė Iím not quite sure why youíd want to watch the IMAX version of the film since it is almost 30 minutes shorter and a smaller aspect ration, but itís here for you if you want it.

Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard Ė Howard delivers and interesting commentary as he describes in detail how they shot this movie. From the complex zero gravity shots to the exposition scenes, he gives the full story on how they made it. Howard also talks a lot about his discussions with the real astronauts who he consulted with on the film. Itís a very interesting commentary and well worth checking out.

Feature Commentary with Jim and Marilyn Lovell Ė Itís not often that a guy gets to provide a commentary on a film made about him, but this is one of those rare occasions. The Lovellís deliver a fine commentary and Jim talks pretty much continuously through the film. A lot of what they have to say is comparing the film with reality, but thatís pretty interesting in itself. Lovellís also able to give a first hand account of what happened. This is, of course, an excellent commentary.

"Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13" Ė This ďmaking ofĒ documentary is almost an hour long and it details the whole process from initially getting the script to the theatrical release of the film. There are vintage interviews with the entire cast, behind the scenes footage, and more. They cover the special effects, shooting in zero gravity, and other cool stuff. About the only thing that is shortchanged is the soundtrack. Still, this documentary ends up being the highlight of the bonus features.

"Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond" Ė This is a 45 minute documentary on the history of the US space program. They cover the space race, the Apollo missions, the Voyager space probes, the Hubble telescope, and more. It goes all the way up to the Columbia disaster. Itís a great snapshot of our history in space and features a lot of great footage.

"Lucky 13: The Astronaut's Story" Ė This is a brief report on the original Apollo 13 incident from Dateline NBC. Thereís vintage footage, interviews with the original people involved, and more.

The Bottom Line:
Apollo 13 is a classic film that tells a great story, features a fantastic cast, and is well-made all the way around. It would make a great addition to your DVD collection.

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