DVD-Review: Apollo 13

Everybody is talking about the new space thriller Gravity, but I’m not – instead I’m taking the current hype around this movie as an opportunity to look back at another great space movie from the 1990s: Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Even after almost twenty years since its making, the movie still holds up well and shows how a real space thriller should work – as a combination of great acting, amazing visuals and creative storytelling. Apollo 13 is neither a complete special-effects orgy or the Tom Hanks show some of the advertising wanted it to be, but a fairly accurate retelling of the real events focusing heavily on the story and characters. Today’s review of the Anniversary Edition DVD from 2005 is a heavily reworked and improved translation of my earlier German-language article, finally concluding the Spaceflight Series.

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  1. Tank the Hatchet

    OT: “Gravity” is boring family crap! That whole stuff with Bullocks daughter and that stupid ending with the russian space sation. Okay there are nice SFX in the begining but when the whole space waolking stuff starts it gets boring has hell. And another indication that that movie is BS is that they actually talking AA-nominations for Bullock and Clooney – two of the most untalented movie actors in years and a totall misscast!

  2. The more I hear about Gravity, the less I like the movie… I guess I won’t be watching it at all. Everybody marvels about the great visuals, but what about the story? I begin to suspect that there is none… maybe a film script is going to surface somewhere that I can read.

  3. Tank the Hatchet

    “Apollo 13” is way WAY better! Not only because it relly happend, but because it`s just more realistic.

    Okay… I saw “Gravity” (or at least most parts of it) on a Con. And the whole thing wassn`t that good quality wise (projection/sound ect.). But still it remined me of the remake of “Solaris” – concitentaly also staring Clooney!

    You had great visuals, but the story was totaly lame. And in “Gravity” it just sucks, because it is similar to “Open Water” – exceept with a happy ending.

    I didn`t know you hadn`t seen it yet, so sorry fo the spoilers- ;-> But you can essaly find ascreener online so you can watch for yourself. Most ppl are just sucked in by this movie because it has some great IMAY like space visulas.

    But PPl are sheep.

    So if anyone on Faceshit starts likeing this movie all the other morons just wanna live out there MArstov-Phase.

    To end with Forrest Gump (because otherwise I start ranting) “And thats all I have to say about that.

    BTW (since it fits both topics): Tom Hanks has a new movie out I highly recomend: “Captain Phillips” – probaly not really your cup of tea (Real life story about the first pirate highjacking of a Us Ship in 800 years and the subsuquent freeing thereoff by a group of US Navy Seals) but WAY better than “Gravity”.

  4. No problem, spoil away as you like, but beware everybody else reading this here :-).

    That’s exactly the secondhand “vibe” I get from the movie – stunning visuals, but a rubbish plot. I still wonder why they made it into such a catastrophy-drama – something like a cross between The Right Stuff, Space Cowboys and Apollo 13 would have been much more fun! I’m always willing to have fun with a bit of hype and I love a well-made action movie, but this overly huge reaction is a bit of a red flag for me. Maybe I’ll watch it someday when it’s aired on UK television :-).

    And you are right, Apollo 13 IS the better movie. It may be slightly embellished in places, but when I recently re-watched it after a couple of years, I was really surprised how amazing it is.

    Captain Phillips I don’t know about yet, there seem to be some controversies about the story, same problem as with The Fourth (or Fifth?) Estate…

  5. Tank the Hatchet

    “The 5th Estate” I think. Thats crap anyways – just like that Nihilistbook-movie they made a couple of years ago.

    “Cpt. Phillips” get flak because it`s very american. Like a “Act of Valo” – without the Pleasantvillecrap. And especially European Critics don’t like that patriotic attitude.

    Back to “Gravoty”:

    Here are some things that made me crunsh while watching it:

    1. The cut-off-age for NASA-astrounauts is 35 – exceept if you a highly experienced astrounaut (like the guy in “The Core”) or if you a mission viaable specialist. Clooney is way to old and he obuisly is a relative amatuer. He would never be Shuttlecommander. Bullock is to old, too and she issn`t a specialist. (more later!)

    2. Bullock supposley plays a MEDICAL doctor. But she doesn`t know the difference between IV, IM and IC-injections.

    2a. Bullock doesn`t seem to know the diference betwen PORT and STARBOARD. Did I miss something here or didn`t se star in “Speed 2” – which plays on a fucking CRUSIE LINER? Hello, somebody home there or what?

    2b. Her motivation to survive (her daughter supposley died and was never found) so she is doeing everything to get back home in the vage hope her daughter is stil alive and will be found. Issn`t that a misnumor or what? Who is her daughter: Madi McCan? LFMFAO!

    2c. Ed Harris plays Groundcontrol. Or at least his voice is. Sometimes it seems to me that Bullock and him are connected by more than a work relationship. But that is (thankfully!) never really more deeper explored-

  6. I don’t think there’s an cut-off age for NASA astronauts, at least I haven’t heard of one!
    http://astronauts.nasa.gov/content/faq.htm actually says that the average age is 34, and I think most of the current astronaut corps are actually fairly older! The current NASA astronauts on the station at the moment, Karen Nyberg and Michael Hopkins are both 44, the youngest up there is actually the italian ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano at 37 – and the oldest is Fyodor Yurchikhin, he’s 54. Richard Mastracchio from NASA goes up next month and he’s also 53! So Clooney at 52 and Bullock at 49 (Huh? I thought she was younger!) are actually right in the middle.

    But I agree about the supposed “roles” they both play, that’s just completely silly. Clooney as an Astronaut I can buy, but the doctor on a Hubble servicing mission is just nuts. Maybe they got the idea from the last Hubble servicing mission, where Megan McArthur, who has degrees in aerospace engineering and oceanography, was one of the Astronauts working on the telescope. First flight, but mission specialist since 2000 – actually in the same group as Karen Nyberg. But she’s not a “doctor” (I guess that’s something they needed for the plot!)

    And KOWALSKI of all names, when I first read that I thought it was a joke, I’m always thinking about the Penguins from the Madagascar movies when I hear that name :-).

    And I suppose they just chose Ed Harris because he played Gene Krantz in Apollo 13, that seems to be the main reason.

  7. Tank the Hatchet

    The offical COA for NASA is 35. I don?t know about RSA or ESA. But in one of the feaurettes on “Space Cowboys” it is said so. But since NASA doesn`t have enough ppl those experenced ones hace to serve longer.

    Still doesn`t qualify either Bullocks or Clooneys character since they are obusily not qualified or experenced enough or they would’nt make such childish mistakes which puts them in more danger then actually help them.

  8. Well, according to all available information on the web including the official NASA astronaut corps website, there is no age limit today. There may have been one at the time of Space Cowboys, but that is 13 years in the past and the times have really changed since then. NASA has had four different administrators since then and the whole role of the space agency has completely changed.

    What is more important for NASA is the career of the applicant – you need to have at least a science bachelor’s degree and a couple of years work in your field. Being a pilot is optional these days. They wouldn’t take someone like us :-).

    If you have read Luca Parmitano’s own account of the potentionally dangerous spacesuit water leak (http://blogs.esa.int/luca-parmitano/2013/08/20/eva-23-exploring-the-frontier/) then you realize how professinal these folks are. The behaviour of Kowalski and Stone (almost a great title for a 70s cop show!) would never happen with real astronauts. They’re human beings after all, but extremely well trained for emergency situations.

    In the end, the movie may look great, but it may also be much bigger nonsense than e.g. Space Cowboys – and that was just more of an adventure comedy, never wanting to be the real thing. But Gravity purpots it’s real, and that’s what bugs me most. I don’t know why they bother with elements from the real world and mix them randomly together (reaching ISS from Hubble and then going to Tiangong, what the…?) instead of making up something entirely original.