Well, Well, I decided to give a few looks at some classic films, before I start hitting the theaters this weekend to watch something new. And I stumbled into this movie. A movie originally released in 1983, and I was satisfied and impressed. What a movie, it had a good mixture of elements: Good acting, good FX, good humor, and also a good, mostly solid script. It was nominated for 8 academy awards, and won 4 of them. This film is another classic that you and your family should enjoy. It also depicts how ambitions of people are diverted, as the challenge shifts from hard to harder and the testosterone pumps faster and faster.It starts way back in 1947. The sound barrier at the time is the goal that many ambitious flyers want to break. One even dies in the attempt after his plane suffers severe turbulence. Then there's Charles Yeager (Sam Sheppard in a great performance), a veteran flyer stationed at Edwards AFB and known as "fly-boy" by his wife (Barbara Hershey), decides to take up the challenge. Just before going, he breaks a couple of ribs, after falling off a horse. But he still goes ahead and flies the Bell X-1 plane off to break it. The guy's got guts, doesn't he?
"Still going up like a bat outta hell!!!"
Chuck Yeager: Hey Ridley, you got any Beeman's?
Jack Ridley: Yeah, I think I got a stick.
Chuck Yeager: Loan me some, will you? I'll pay you back later.
Jack Ridley: Fair enough.
A classic line, then he makes it, boom, he breaks the sound barrier, HHOORRAAYY!!!!! After that, we start meeting the rest of the key pilots, Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom (Fred Ward), and Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), John Glenn (Ed Harris), and Alan Sheppard (Scott Glenn).
The ambitions go higher, as the Russians launch the Sputnik, and the Americans are caught with their heads up their ass. I sometimes think that if the movie added the American response, the Explorer, would've polished the movie better, but that’s just what I think. Then the space program develops, under the heated conversations in the briefing room with the president and his staff.
Von Braun: We could launch a pod.
Lyndon Johnson: A pot?
Von Braun: A POD -- a, uh, capsule. Now, we would be in full control of zis pod. It vill go up like a cannonball, and come down like, uh, a cannonball, splashing down into ze water, the ocean, vith a parachute to spare the life of the specimen inside.
Lyndon Johnson: Spaceman!?
Von Braun: SPE-CI-MEN!
Lyndon Johnson: Well, what kind of spe-ci-men?
Von Braun: A tough one. Responsive to orders. I had in mind a jimp.
Lyndon Johnson: JIMP? Well what the HELL is a jimp??
Von Braun: A jimp! A-a-a jimpanzee, Senator! An ape!
The call comes, the newly formed NASA gives 50 test pilots, coming from the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, a chance to try to give the best they can, and seven, will be elected. They have to pass through a rigorous medical examination. At the end we see that there is a meaning when we say "Survival of the Fittest."
In the end the seven are elected, Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin), Sheppard, Walter Shirra (Lance Henriksen), Grissom, Glenn, Cooper, and Carpenter. They face at first, some grueling embarrassment. The monkeys: Able, Baker, and Ham are the first into space. The Russians beat them again on the first man into space, and again when Russian cosmonaut German Titov flies around the earth in one day. We also see the stresses they suffer with their families and themselves, like Grissom being later wrongly humiliated by the Air Force....
Gus Grissom: I did NOT do anything wrong! The hatch just BLEW! It was a GLITCH! It was a- a TECHNICAL MALFUNCTION! Why in hell won't anyone believe me?
But at the end, they're ready, 100%, and soar across the sky into glory. In the Ground, Yeager keeps his ambitions high, as he flies again to set more records, breaking the sound barrier again, and trying to beat the Russian record of how high can you go by flying straight up. 114,000 feet is basically his goal, will he break it? I'll leave you to watch that.
A major flaw that I caught in the movie is that, this movie is mostly, and basically about the seven astronauts that went into the mercury project. But in the end, we only get to see three and a half flights of the seven. Plus, the characters Shirra, Slayton, and Carpenter are pretty shallow and merely developed; they don't do anything but to stand around. We don't even know what happens to them during their flights. That, for me was a major disappointment, because it fails to deliver what were their roles in the program and what they did to become also heroes. Just for the record, Slayton didn't even fly the spacecraft because of a defective valve on his heart, found out at the very last minute before flying.
Luckily, that affects little, if any, on the casual viewer. One of the qualities of this movie is that it stays true to the moment. When there is comedy, the movie follows smoothly in the comedic parts, The suspense parts never let you go, making you stay at the edge of your seat. The cinematography is good, depicting and helping the movies emotional moments. The effects and the sound are great, and add more to the greatness of the movie. The acting was great, the actors stayed true to their characters, thanks to the excellent casting, and the directing was good. Geez, I just wish they did four more sequels or a T.V. series after this movie (Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle). It would've been so great.In the end, this is basically a great movie. It makes you see how ambitions of doing, and DOING it can reward you with glory, and what do you do to pursue them. I can't say anything else to recommend it, Go see it!!! Remember, "no bucks, no Buck Rogers."
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2069&reviewer=235
originally posted: 12/22/00 14:09:37