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Apollo 13 Chasing
the moon

A wonderful cast brings a thrilling,
harrowing true story to the screen

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"Apollo 13"

Reviewed by John Orr

We predicted: "Many, many people will be relieved by Tom Hanks' performance in this film, because no way is he gonna win an Oscar for it. Two in a row will be his stopping point, unless he comes out with some other, better performance, this year."

We were right.

He's OK in "Apollo 13" -- fine, in fact -- but no big deal.

Really, the stars of this worthwhile film are the script, the direction, the hardware and the special effects ... it's a delight for even modest space buffs to watch the Saturn rocket take off (some amazing miniatures and computer imaging work), and all the stuff in the lunar module and command ship is great.

Ed HarrisThe best performance in the film is Ed Harris as the ground-control commander. He is steely, he is tough, he is taciturn. Exactly what a military professional given such enormous responsibility WOULD be.

Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton, as the three astronauts on an ill-fated trip to the moon, are less easy to accept. They are actors, acting, and it is hard to lose track of that. Gary Sinese, as an astronaut bumped off the mission for medical reasons, and who then helps save the other three with his efforts in a simulator, is more in the Hanks/Bacon/Paxton set than at the Harris level.

But, ya know, critical thinking aside, I really enjoyed this film. It was well written, well directed and nicely paced. It made very real the danger these guys were in, and demonstrated very well how a huge team of engineers and NASA people struggled and worked to save them.

My daughter, who grew up with Space Shuttle launches being no big deal, was bugged by how the disasters kept piling up ... but ... I liked the building of suspense, myself, and besides, all that stuff DID happen.

I was happy to see this film, which reminds us ground-huggers know what those astronauts accomplished. It is a heroic tale with a happy ending.

Theater or video?
It was great in the theater, and I would be glad to see it in a revival house sometime. But it's also great on video. Go for it, either way.
DVD with special features at amazon.com
DVD at amazon.com
VHS at amazon.com

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