Apollo 13 (1995) – 4.5/5

Great suspenseful drama that’s a little cheesy at times but is so well written, well shot, and well acted that such small lapses into melodrama are completely forgivable, and, occasionally, necessary given the otherwise isolated circumstances the characters find themselves in for a good portion of the film. And this from Ron Howard of all people, a director I long ago dismissed as being little more than a spoiled product of Hollywood privilege. That’s not to say this was a huge artistic leap forward for him by any stretch of the imagination, but as a film, it certainly stands on its own as a great piece of cinema, with Howard’s simplistic filmmaking style complementing his film for once rather than taking away from it. Well done.

The film works as well as it does because it’s so well told. Well written, well paced, and suspenseful as all hell. The acting is also pretty good, though the real stand out here is Ed Harris who just oozes confident authority whenever he’s on-screen. Tom Hanks is good too as the likable super astronaut of sorts, and Kevin Bacon as the sort of villain, though not completely convincing as a character, makes sense given the lack of tangible antagonist. And the special effects are astounding for the time; I don’t know how they did it, but everything looks so real, you’d think they actually launched a rocket to the moon and just filmed it all. It looks great, even by today’s standards. Heck, I’m willing to bet that, had this been made with today’s crappy CGI technology, it wouldn’t have looked half as good.

Overall, really great film. Enjoyed the heck out of it. Just a well made, well told film full of thrills and suspense and nail-biting moments milked for all they’re worth. It’s simple, straight forward filmmaking at its most effective. No reinventing of the wheel here. Just plain, old-fashioned filmmaking at its finest. Worth watching, definitely.

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