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James R. Hansen,
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In the late 1960s, the United States space program neared its goal of landing a man on the Moon, but it was a journey that began years before. This is the story of Project Apollo - 12 years, 12 manned-missions, one impossible goal. With rare archival footage and audio, this remarkable documentary sheds new light on an incredible time in human history.
For the most part, this was an enjoyable and unusual documentary about the Apollo program. Rather than the usual video with voiceover narration, this was made up entirely of clips of educational films, news broadcasts, TV shows, and other varied sources. In doing so, the filmmakers have made a film that really captures the feel of those few years.
However, one can only wonder if they thought they were going to have a third hour in which to tell the story. After studying in excellent detail the development of the rocket and the growth of the program, culminating in the first manned lunar landing by Apollo 11, the remainder of the program is extremely rushed, almost disrespectfully so. The Apollo 12 mission is covered in less than THREE minutes, most of which is devoted to the fact that one of the video cameras was accidentally damaged. The Apollo 13 mission gets slightly better treatment, with 18 minutes of video covering their story, but after a final commercial break, there are only eight minutes left to tell the stories of Apollo 14, 15, 16, and 17. As short as that is, they use a total of only SIX minutes for those four missions, and then waste the final two minutes of a documentary supposedly about Apollo on beauty shots of the space shuttle and International Space Station. (I guess Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz were left on the cutting room floor.)
Maybe this was intended as a two-hour theater release, and the flippant treatment of everything after Apollo 11 reflects edits made to the run time so that 26 minutes of commercials could be shoe-horned in for broadcast. THAT would have been an 8-star or even 9-star documentary, and I would hope a director's cut will someday be released on DVD (Blu-ray would be a waste, considering most of the video is from late-60s / early-70s TV anyway.)
But as it is, I'll give eight stars to the first 63 minutes, and the final 31minutes the three stars it barely deserves. Overall, this is no more than a six.
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