Apollo 13 (1995)


    Budget: $52 Million

    Box Office Performance: $355.2 Million

    MPAA Rating: PG

    Synopsis: Three astronauts during the second flight back to walk on the moon have to overcome incredible obstacles to get back home after their space craft is crippled in this based on the true life event.

    The year is 1961.  The space race between Russia and United States is at a fever pitch and racing to see who can be the first nation to send a man into space.  The Russian’s beat us to the first space flight in human history when it sent Yuri Gagarin, into a single orbit in Vostok 1 on a Vostok 3KA rocket, on 12 April 1961. The U.S. sent, Alan Shepard into suborbital on Freedom 7 on a Mercury-Redstone rocket, on 5 May 1961. U.S. President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet when he claimed that the United States will send a man to walk on the moon and come back safely by the end of the 1960’s.  To complete his goal, the United States threw everything it had into the space program and on July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon and return on July 24th. Since then, humans have gone to great heights in space and done marvels that were once deemed impossible.  In all that time, accidents happened within the space programs that have shocked the world, such as Space Shuttle Challenger disaster which exploded shortly after launch killing 7 Americans, as well as 3 Russian cosmonauts that died when a cabin vent valve accidentally opened at service module separation, being the only human fatalities in space. One of the most closest and harrowing encounters in any space program was Apollo 13, when three astronauts almost died in space when liquid oxygen ignited, causing an explosion in space.

    It’s July 1969 and Jim Lovell is hosting a party to honor the astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who are about to be the first men to walk on the surface of the moon. Having many prominent members of the U.S. Space Program at his house, as well as himself being a part of the first space craft to orbit the moon, he’s feeling both pride and envy of not being the one to accomplish the feat.  After the party had died, Lovell is giving a tour to VIP’s when he’s told that he and his teammates are bump from the back-up crew to the prime crew of Apollo 13 after the commander of the original crew came down with an ear infection, 6 months away from the launch.  Being the next commander to walk on the moon, Jack Lovell Fred Haise and Ken Mattingly vigorously train to get ready for space flight after being regulated to minimal work. After almost 5 months of training and almost ready for their flight, the flight surgeon informs Jim Lovell and the head directors of NASA that Ken Mattingly hasn’t been exposed to measles and would be getting sick shortly after Jim Lovell and Fred Haise descended down to the moon. Making a decision that effects the crew, he elects to have Jack Swigert replace Ken Mattingly as the Command Module Pilot, 3 days before the launch.  Despite serious mistakes in the simulator that kills them repeatedly, they proceed to the launch and have a successful launch, short of the number 5 engine malfunctioning on them prior to final shutdown leaving Earth’s atmosphere. After leaving for the moon, they have an uneventful 3 day trip, even doing an un-televised personal show on the spacecraft until a routine task causes a liquid oxygen tank to explode, sending the ship into a crippling mangled mess that destroys their chance at walking on the moon.

    After the explosion that ruins their mission, Houston command center faces one challenge after another one.  After believing that it couldn’t be something major and just instrumentation, they have a meeting to decide how to bring the ship home to fastest and safest way.  They decide that they will use the moon’s gravity to slingshot them back to the Earth’s atmosphere.  After deciding to go from the command module to the LEM or Lunar Earth Module, which wasn’t affected in the explosion, Houston decides that they need to shut down power to the barest of minimum.  After turning off power and turning the ship into an icebox, their next close encounter was that the LEM wasn’t designed for three people and the filters that take the carbon dioxide humans expel and turning it into clean breathing air becomes saturated, Engineers in NASA create a device with almost nothing to work with.  After hours of nerve-racking experiments, they create a device that allows the air to transfer between both the command module and the LEM, decreasing the carbon dioxide into a living environment that won’t kill the crew.  At this time as well, Ken Mattingly was drinking alone in a hotel room to reduce the pain and disappointment of not being on the mission, is brought back to NASA to create a process that will keep the voltage under the required amount to get ready for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.  The biggest obstacle is the fact that they are close to not hitting the correct angle to enter Earth’s atmosphere.  Too steep and they would incinerate.  Too shallow and they’d skip off the atmosphere like a rock on a pond. Houston and the crew decide that a manual burn is the best way to reserve power as well as get them back on course.  Doing the highly dangerous maneuver, the crew of Apollo 13 successfully complete the burn and get back on course.  Just before re-entry, they restart the frozen command module and successfully disconnect from the Lunar Earth Module to see the damage, which is extensive.  With all the problems they faced and what could happen, they hope that luck will be on their side and place fate above all else, the crew of Apollo 13 come out of radio blackout a minute and a half longer than ever before to have, the parachutes deploy successfully allowing them to gently land in the ocean closer to the air craft carrier than a space shuttle ever has before.

    Space missions are always dangerous.  The mystery that accompanies the wonder on what’s out there will probably forever be something that most of us that are alive on this earth will always cease to remain just that: wonder and amazement.  More and more space movies come out all the time, with possibilities of what we might accomplish in the near future.  The Mars missions, which is to send a team of individuals to Mars, is predicted to come about around the year 2030 but even that is in its infancy stage.  The moon was the great adventure that has been completed over and over since the tragedy of Apollo 13 and has almost gotten to the point where people see it as routine, especially when we have humans that have been living in space with the international space station over the last 11 years. I always wonder what’s out there but I never stop to think that any space mission will be easy.  Apollo 13 showed us that it takes a team effort of countless people to overcome tragedies that would have surely been death.

    • Main Actor: Tom Hanks is probably one of the greatest actors ever in the modern age and this movie is only one of the few that he’s done to prove that.  He is kind and caring when he must as Commander Lovell but also takes charge when called upon.  Never crumbling, he was the beacon of the movie that carried all others: A
    • Main Actress: Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell was incredible as the steadfast wife who kept her cool most of the time during a crisis of unspeakable tragedy.  Keeping in form throughout the movie, she showed what should happen when the horribly unexpected accident occurs: Keep your cool, stay in charge and don’t panic: A
    • Supporting Cast: Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon were excellent in how two guys that were at each other’s throats could come together to get back safety in the face of almost certain death.  All the cast members of Houston were incredible in their panic level, helping each other out and you could almost believe that the obstacles were really happening during the movie, as if it was real life: A
    • Music: This is what music in movies should aspire to be.  Music can help create a scene to reach new heights and, if done well, can make the most mundane of scenes be great.  During every dramatic scene and every highlight, you can hear the perfect pitch of music that makes it the movie all that much better: A
    • Plot: This plot was great.  Never lagging, never quitting and never feeling like a drag.  From beginning to end, if it’s the first time you see it, you feel their pain, revel in their successes and make it seem like everything is going to be OK.  The roller coaster of this movie was great and will, in my opinion, go down as a top 20 film in the last 50 years: A
    • Overall Grade: A

    Fun Facts: http://www.zimbio.com/Beyond+the+Box+Office/articles/RmmNOumZ8ei/20+Things+Never+Knew+Apollo+13

    • Houston, we’ve had a problem” is often misquoted and Howard chose to use the incorrect line, “Houston, we have a problem” since “we’ve had” implies the problem already happened.
    • During test screenings, some audience members wrote in their notes they didn’t believe the movie could have happened. They didn’t know it’s a true story.
    • Due to his portrayal of Lovell in this movie, Hanks had an asteroid “12818 Tomhanks (1996 GU8)” named in his honor.
    • Lovell’s wife, Marilyn, has said Hanks nails her husband’s mannerisms and body language.
    • Brad Pitt turned down an offer to appear in Apollo 13 so he could star in David Fincher’s Seven. The role of Fred Haise was offered to John Cusack and Charlie Sheen before Paxton agreed. John Travolta was reportedly in the running for the role of Lovell.

    About Brian Noonkester

    I'm just an average everyday movie lover. I also love reading movie reviews and wanted to write my own reviews. I hope you enjoy my site and please leave comments telling me how I'm doing and what you think could make it better.

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