Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinese, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan
Written by: Al Reinert, William Broyles Jr., from the book "Lost Moon" by Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger
Directed by: Ron Howard
MPAA Rating: PG for language and emotional intensity
Running Time: 140
Date: 22/06/1995

Apollo 13 (1995)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Spaced Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Apollo 13 on DVD.

After all the dreck I've had to sit through from director Ron Howard through the years, he seems to have finally graduated. He started off well enough, with the good-natured Splash and Night Shift, but one could see that he had the 1980's-director syndrome in that he wanted to be taken more seriously as an "artist." Going into his new film, I knew it was going to have to shatter my senses to win me over.

It did. Overnight, Howard seems to have turned into a combination of the best aspects of Oliver Stone and Robert Altman. This is the first movie I have seen since Platoon that gives you an authentic feeling of what it would be like to be somewhere only a few have been: outer space.

The film looks authentic even in its Earthbound shots, notably the crew at the command center. The look like real people with bad hair, no hair, misshapen heads and teeth; they look like an army of nerds who spent the fifties reading sci-fi pulp and now are getting to fly real spaceships. Kathleen Quinlan has the typically thankless role of being on earth and fretting about her husband (Tom Hanks), but she really pulls it off well, and we get an idea of who she is.

Gary Sinese is an extraordinary actor who does some amazing things here. Ed Harris is a great military-style movie star who's fun to watch. Hanks, Kevin Bacon and the sorely underused Bill Paxton are marvellous in the ship, not having a lot to do. They are bored, cold, sick and scared, without a whole lot of room to move around. These actors do wonders with such a limited space and limited characterization.

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