A murder inside the Louvre, and clues in Da Vinci paintings, lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years, which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Based on the true story of the ill-fated 13th Apollo mission bound for the moon. Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert were scheduled to fly Apollo 14, but are moved up to 13. It's 1970, and The US has already achieved their lunar landing goal, so there's little interest in this "routine" flight.. until that is, things go very wrong, and prospects of a safe return fade.Written by
Many would argue that, because it is based on true events, history ruins the ending of Apollo 13, and thus, its thriller aspect is worthless. I will confess to ignorance here: I knew next to nothing about the real-life mission, and thus, I was able to really enjoy the movie's thriller aspect.
The first half hour of Apollo 13 basically introduces the main characters. Its slow pace actually helps it in the long run; it plods along and finds its own, comfortable pace. Some mightn't like this, but I did. As soon as a little complication is introduced involving Gary Sinise's character, the movie skyrockets forward and doesn't stop. Characters that we've gotten to know and care for are then involved in one scary series of events, making the film that much more thrilling.
Ron Howard really knows how to direct. The suspense sequences of Apollo 13 work out fantastically. He doesn't add unnecessary material to the film to make it more popular to the masses. There is no "asteroid field" sequence that a superficial teen audience would go crazy over. As a result, the film really feels like it is taking place in outer space. This adds a layer of realism to the (fantastic) special effects, and the film is that much better.
An added bonus is Tom Hanks in the lead role as Jim Lovell. He is one of the few popular actors who really deserve all the praise. Hanks adds a touch of humanity to his role; he doesn't feel like an unerring, invincible protagonist, and he doesn't feel like a "Gary Sue" who will mess up at all the appropriate times. As the ship's crew begins to argue, Hanks joins in the shouting, trying to "break it up". But it isn't his voice that stops the arguing. Hanks makes his character and the danger he is in feel real. That takes real talent.
But Hanks is not the only one who deserves praise. Every single actor in the film, from Gary Sinise to Ed Harris, does a fantastic job. Their characters are not imitations of real-life personages; they are their own. Everyone seems to fit their character perfectly, even Jim Lovell's elderly mother (who is introduced lamenting that her son's broadcast is not on TV).
Arguably, Apollo 13's most pleasant surprise is found in its gentle inclusion of comic relief. It doesn't seem intrusive or inappropriate. The best way to describe it is "gentle". For instance, two world-famous astronauts are introduced to Jim's mother as regular, ordinary young men. It's funny and doesn't seem forced into the plot.
The Verdict: Apollo 13 is a splendid little film, thrilling when it has to be, comic at times, and carried all the way by splendid performances from all the actors. Solid direction and superb visual effects just add to make it the great film it is.
Overall Rating: 10/10
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