The sci-fi genre has resulted in the release of several absurd space films. You can forget about Hollywood blockbusters like Armageddon, Pitch Black, Deep Impact, Lost in Space, Mission to Mars and several others. Not since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey has there been a real space movie that captures the wonder of space; that captures how mesmerising and stimulating the experience would be. My prayers were finally answered when Ron Howard was given the green light to make this phenomenal film.
In a nutshell: Ron Howard's Apollo 13 is utterly exceptional. Director Howard has been able to meticulously recreate such an extraordinary scientific occurrence in stunning detail that firmly places the viewer inside the spaceship with the men who are in mortal peril.
Apollo 13 is a film that tells a dramatic account of the true danger that three frail humans faced while in outer space when an explosion on board their vessel cast doubt on them ever reaching it back to Earth. When the explosion occurs and the danger becomes real, the scientists back at NASA would not rest until the crew were brought back home safely.
We follow the three protagonists up in space whose lives are challenged, we follow the NASA scientists back on Earth working to bring the crew home, and we follow those on the home front who are worried sick about their loved ones: three different perspectives of the one heart-stopping event.
Ron Howard's direction is just exceptional; because of the skilful directing I actually forgot it was a movie due to its realism and flawless special effects. It's very hard to believe that this film was made when CGI was still in its youth. Of course Howard's direction was also accompanied by a spectacular cast.
The one thing that struck me about Apollo 13 was its striking realism and believability despite an abundance of well-known actors. Tom Hanks emerged as the principal character here. Hanks is one of the world's greatest actors and he is capable of convincingly pulling off any role that falls into his lap. I couldn't think of anyone better suited to this job. His portrayal is both powerful and moving. Needless to say, each and every other cast member did their job to a high standard. Gary Sinise was a particular surprise as one of those present at NASA during the crisis.
I will admit that the film's opening is fairly slow-paced. It demands patience from its audience. Because when the action moves into space it's extremely hard to drag your eyes away from the screen. In space the film is brimming with realism and an engrossing sequence of events.
I thought one of the most significant things that made this movie so brilliant was its spectacular special effects. I have not seen special effects of this high standard since Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Everything was scrupulously detailed: the space ship (both interior and exterior), as well as the interior of the NASA building. The exterior of the Apollo 13 is particularly well executed and almost impossible to fault. For a film of the 90's this high level of quality is extremely rare.
Apollo 13 scores higher than any space-oriented Hollywood blockbuster fluff, and firmly positions itself amongst the best movies ever made. This filmmaking is tremendously close to perfection. Just think that it was only about 40 years ago when the world held their breath while watching footage of Apollo 13's perilous situation in space. If this film was not a true story, I couldn't have believed it was possible.