“Apollo 13 truly is a masterpiece.”
Yesterday I watched Apollo 13, the Ron Howard-directed film about the disastrous lunar mission that took place in 1969. The film details what exactly went wrong on that fateful flight, as well as every step that was taken to secure the safe return of the three astronauts on board the spacecraft.
The thing that sticks out to me the most about Apollo 13 is just how cinematic this movie is. Apollo 13 takes place largely in two locations: the command centre at NASA, and inside of the spacecraft. Neither of these locations are very extravagant, and the spacecraft is of course very small. Despite these facts Ron Howard does his best to make sure that he makes the mundane exciting. Glorious sweeping shots, perfectly executed Hitchcock zooms, amazing tracking shots; Everything that is done in Apollo 13 makes the story larger than life.
And these brilliant visuals are matched by the outstanding score by James Horner. These amazing orchestral pieces and angelic vocals manage to not only convey the gravity of the situation, but also the awe and wonder of sending people to the moon in the first place. Horner manages to create a score that is both immersive and complimentary. It’s like a fine wine; it’s great by itself, but pair it with some amazing cheese and the experience of both becomes greater.
And surprisingly most of the effects in Apollo 13 still hold up. I say most because there are a few moments, particularly during the takeoff sequence, where the effects are noticeably 90’s; but apart from that the team working on Apollo 13 did an amazing job of creating the most realistic environment possible.
And I can’t forget to talk about the stellar performances given by every single cast member in this movie. Not only do the three astronauts (played by Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon) knock it out of the park, but every single person in that control centre do an amazing job as well. They all convey the situation so well that, despite me having seen Apollo 13 numerous times, I found myself holding my breath at the particularly stressful parts. And don’t even get me started on the families of the astronauts. Everyone in Apollo 13 knocked it out of the park.
And before I go I want to just touch on the story one last time and give props to the pacing. You’d think that a movie about three astronauts being stranded in space would have a lull here or there, but Apollo 13 was made so brilliantly that no such lull exists. The story is split into chunks, which was a brilliant move in my opinion. Instead of the movie focusing on one giant issue, they break it down into small problems; each one just as nerve-racking as the last. This keeps tensions high throughout the entire film, and really sends home how serious this situation was. And that ending. Man, I don’t cry often but Apollo 13 brought me close. I was so invested in the characters and the story that when the ending comes around, I was overwhelmed. Apollo 13 truly is a masterpiece.
Overall Apollo 13 is one of the great American movies. Not only does it retell a particularly painful story from American history, but it does so in a way that not only pays respects to everyone involved but also maintains a solid narrative throughout the film. The direction is beautiful, the score is immaculate, the performances are wonderful, and the writing is magnificent. Apollo 13 is really one of those movies that speaks for itself.
I give Apollo 13 an A