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Worth A Look: 17.09%
Average: 9.4%
Pretty Bad: 3.42%
Total Crap: 11.11%

6 reviews, 81 user ratings

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Apollo 13
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by Erik Childress

"IMAX Adds and Subtracts to the Apollo 13 Experience"
5 stars

"Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience" - The dream is starting to become true. In what seems like eons, me and my movie-obsessed friends have advocated the re-release of films back to the big screen, in hopes of capturing that magical feeling all over again or to enrapture an experience we’ve never had before with films we never got our parents to drive us to or those that were around when we weren’t yet even a glint in their eye. Apollo 13, released only a mere seven years ago, isn’t one of those films. I fondly recall seeing it four times in the theater and brought whomever I could with me who hadn’t shared in the event. Now in 2002, the screen is bigger, the sound is more encompassing and the event is bigger. This is IMAX and Ron Howard’s epic retelling of NASA’s heroic near-tragedy has been blown up to wonderous proportions to behold even while the film itself has been chopped down just as much.

Apollo 13 is a glory on any screen. Director Ron Howard took a true-life event and constructed a film molded with claustrophobic suspense, the outerworld beauty of the space program and the do-or-die spirit in the face of catastrophe. When we were first taken on this journey, most of the film’s power came from the human interaction on the ground. Witnessing NASA working together with Gene Kranz (Ed Harris in a bravura performance), struggling to get our boys home and the anguish of Jim Lovell (a subtly brilliant Tom Hanks), once the backup leader for the Apollo 11 moon landing, who has to look with befallen eyes once again on how close he came to touching its surface, became just as harrowing as the interiors of the Aquarius spacecraft. The special effects and the handling of the weightlessness did truly make us feel we were in outer space, but in IMAX, we’re riding on the rocket as if we were Slim Pickens.

The depiction of the rocket launch remains one of the most exhilarating sequences ever captured on film; so realistic that NASA wondered where the filmmakers got the footage. These ten minutes are the essence of the IMAX experience. Sound and fury signifying everything from James Horner’s noble and grand musical score to the countdown itself. Individual shots from the elevator ride to the top and the entering of the craft are only warmups for my two favorites of the film; the first, a spiraling shot down the rocket as the ramps are jettisoned for liftoff and the second as the rocket flies towards the screen on its way towards the heavens. And when those boosters explode, you’ll wish that someone had strapped you in like Lovell, Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swaggert (Kevin Bacon), because you’ll be grasping the armrests and for air as you can feel the thrust in your chair. Moments like this and the flight through the exteriors of space where we soar, if it seems as if you’re watching a completely different movie, well, you would be right.

It honestly doesn’t make a lick of sense why they did it, but Apollo 13 has been edited and, at times, even redubbed. Coming to expect that the IMAX dimensions don’t adhere to the Cinemascope framing of 2:35 that the film was originally shot in, losing a touch here and there off the edges doesn’t infuriate the way it does on a pan-and-scanned television presentation, since the whole purpose of IMAX is not to look at the screen, but straight through it. In its current state, the remastered print fills up about 90% of the silver painted screen. For reference sake, your typical IMAX screen is eight stories high and about half the size of a football field.

Losing that 10% off the top is hardly a distraction; it even further accentuates my argument to those “full frame” junkies on home video & DVD that with the lights out, the letterboxed black bars aren’t noticable. What is a distraction, particularly to a great fan of the film like myself, are the edits made throughout. Some made for pacing, some made to take out swearing.

The original cut of Apollo 13 runs 140 minutes. About 20 minutes are now gone. Front-and-tail ends of certain scenes have been snipped, for better or worse. Imminent signs of bad luck like the Lovell’s car breaking down or Marilyn losing her wedding ring in the shower the morning of the launch have been aborted. Wave bye-bye to Paxton’s vomit scene, his hungry rebound and comic suspicion that a fellow astronaut gave him the clap. Even gone is Kathleen Quinlan’s Oscar clip when she refuses cameras on her lawn. (“If they have a problem with that, they can take it up with my husband. He’ll be home. On Friday!) But what’s with the bad language?

This was already a “PG” film to begin with and a true definition of the rating compared to the expletive-laden The Right Stuff back in 1983 (given the same rating before the advent of the “PG-13” in 1984.) If they were interested in doing a complete soapmouth washing of the profanity, that’s one thing. But why take out some of the Gods in “God Dammit” (this happened at least twice with silent dubbing,) but then let some of them slide without provocation? Why eliminate portions of scenes using the word “bullshit” when you’re going to redub Paxton and Bacon saying “piece of junk” instead of “piece of shit?” I may not agree with it, but a little consistency would go a long way in backing up the butchering.

I doubt the peanut gallery will protest too much about making it family friendly and anyone who doesn’t know Apollo 13 front-and-back won’t likely miss the cut footage. Disney has already tested the feature-length IMAX waters with Fantasia 2000, Beauty and the Beast (as well as upcoming presentations of The Lion King and Treasure Planet,) but Apollo 13 represents the first in a line of future live-action projects to be magnificently ballooned to 70mm on giant screens across the country. Star Wars Episode II goes IMAX in November 2002 and Fox’s upcoming Daredevil is also under consideration. Hopefully, filmmakers will leave the work alone since the visceral stimulation of an IMAX spectacle doesn’t need anything to detract from it.

If the experiment is a success, then this is a true dream come true for movie fans across the country. Hope then springs eternal for the field days that studios and film lovers can have dreaming up the potential for the process. Imagine seeing Die Hard, Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, 2001, Titanic or Blade Runner in IMAX. Apollo 13 is just the launching pad; the universe is infinite… long as we get the FULL experience. With a little optimism, like NASA, people will learn how to avoid near-tragedies like Apollo 13 and how one of the most glowing tributes to the beat of the American spirit got reduced to an edited presentation on the USA Network.

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originally posted: 09/20/02 14:49:20
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell tense film good effects 4 stars
12/26/16 Anne Way too long3 hr length w. commercials,annoying music 3 stars
9/19/13 Annie G Fact is stranger ... pretty historically accurate film. 5 stars
5/25/12 Ed Totleben Jr Great take on NASA's most dramatic moments 4 stars
6/06/11 AEB It made me feel like I was there for one of the most dramatic space events ever. 5 stars
3/22/11 Alun The most believeable acting and dialogue I have seen in a movie 5 stars
2/05/11 Jeff Wilder Ron Howard crafts one of his best movies with this one. Hanks is better here than in Gump. 5 stars
12/24/10 Helena o ke kai It was my 20th viewing...I NEVER WATCH A MOVIE TWICE. Great 5 stars
7/06/09 Frisian Boy Awesome movie! One of the best I know!!! 5 stars
6/12/09 Mike Quinn An awesome movie it made me want to go out and join the space program 5 stars
6/11/09 rabnilraj soooo long it was the worst movie ive ever seen.... 1 stars
8/27/08 catherine One of the best movies ever made, by one of the best actors ever to live 5 stars
8/12/08 Shaun Wallner I love space movies! 5 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White A few good men make history 5 stars
11/04/07 Guy Hoevenaars The mission was a failure YET such a success of human ingenuity. Great story, Superb film 5 stars
2/19/07 mb Good movie. 4 stars
2/17/07 David Pollastrini too long but still good 5 stars
1/17/07 Matt Unembellished and brilliant, one of the best films ever 5 stars
1/17/07 James Classic 5 stars
9/22/06 Marge This movie is a good one..even when Kevin Bacon is in a towel...:D 5 stars
8/16/06 Sepi53 Almost perfect motion picture!! 5 stars
7/13/06 EZ K-Dog is insane!!!!!! This movie is incredibly awesome!!!! 5 stars
5/20/06 MP Bartley Gripping, intense and emotional. Howards only good film. 5 stars
5/13/06 Lucy This film Inspired me to want to be 1 of the first women to walk the moon!!! 5 stars
10/03/05 CaDizzle In the Top 10 movies of all time, anyone who says different should be shot! 5 stars
9/09/05 Elinna Yau Its was OK and it got even more exciting 4 stars
5/20/05 dwarzel Better if we didn't know beforehand how it comes out 3 stars
4/06/05 Ethan Great story, great acting, riveting film 5 stars
2/20/05 A A 1 stars
10/24/04 susan tavis this movie is one of the bestmovies i have ever seen, i have seen it over 5 times. 5 stars
6/22/04 T. Maj Wonderful homage to duct tape 4 stars
6/13/04 John solid all the way but never really original or exiting 3 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Astounding! One of the best films ever. 5 stars
4/18/04 Alan Solid, dramatic story telling 4 stars
1/15/04 Samuel amazing film, with a fine cast, and a great director! 5 stars
11/03/03 nw breathtaking powerful true story - well acted 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung Don't like it, don't hate it. It's like the movie had no reason to exist. 3 stars
2/26/03 Francy Breathtaking music, fine actors, careful direction. Be nice to yourself. See. 5 stars
9/23/02 George Shut up, trendwhores, this movie rocks. 5 stars
9/07/02 Ramblin Wreck Can't wait to see this in glorious IMAX!!!! 5 stars
6/28/02 Justin Kiss my ass, if you hate this movie! 5 stars
6/26/02 Film Guy a FANTASTIC movie Tom Hanks gives the preformance of his carrer 5 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie SUCKS on ice! 1 stars
4/06/02 Justin Tom Hanks is excellent in his performance! 5 stars
3/14/02 Rockitman007 What a great movie! 5 stars
3/03/02 jennyK It was good. 3 stars
2/03/02 dan K-Dog, you are the biggest idiot on the Internet 5 stars
12/31/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Tom Hanks can act. It might get slightly boring here & there, but it's basically cool! 3 stars
9/06/01 Gary Nothing more than a flashy, oversized, superficial money project. Utter shit. 1 stars
8/31/01 Henry Ginsberg Superbly made. 5 stars
5/24/01 Erik North Great movie--even better because it is based on a true story, and well-done to boot! 5 stars
5/21/01 R.W. Welch Authentic and well acted though not quite up to The Right Stuff. 4 stars
5/17/01 Leia The mission might have been a successful failure; but the movie was a successful success! 5 stars
2/16/01 James Truly captivating and exciting. 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla intense, exellent, and i want my dad to see it, and you too!!!! 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin Remember: There is NO sound in space 3 stars
10/27/00 stevie ward loved it! 5 stars
8/23/00 K-Dog Killer K-Dog you are a fucking moron. Pull your head out of your pimply ass and leave this place. 5 stars
7/22/00 Tyler Peterson No comments on this site will change the fact that this is the best movie ever made. 5 stars
3/10/00 David Rogers Three words...Boring...Boring...Boring. 1 stars
2/21/00 Stay Puft Marshmellow Man Brill/sprite619004, stop being a queer. Braveheart was MUCH better than this horse SHIT! 2 stars
1/19/00 amanda sorry, loser aussies, the last time you were in space was...never! 5 stars
11/29/99 Crystal Fleming Good drama 5 stars
11/06/99 Anthony Ellis 2 hours of "We Americans are just sooo wonderful". This movie was boring patriotic crap! 1 stars
9/06/99 godsdog Good suspense,spacecoast folks will like it. Why is patriotism such a bad thing, people? 4 stars
7/23/99 E.H. Phenomenal and good to see over and over again 5 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: ***½ (out of ****) Category: "Very Good" 4 stars
6/14/99 Dylan a two hour long yawnathon. 2 stars
6/04/99 lucasd jackson it was a true story,but it was not exciting at all 3 stars
2/19/99 nun uf yur businness this movie really opened my eyes to what really happens up there.the whole cast was awesome 5 stars
2/01/99 Vick Di Brecci Forgettable crap. Hence... 2 stars
1/03/99 Jules Good, but no Right Stuff 3 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink Boring, patriotic bullshit!!!! 1 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob Just misses 'F.A.'. Expertly crafted and engrossing telling of a true heroic story. 4 stars
9/16/98 Lonatic Boring. 2 stars
9/06/98 Admiral Mung Bean Soda (+/- 12db) 3 guys in a can. Already knew how it ended. Fuck Tom Hanks. Watch a documentary,much better 3 stars
9/05/98 Jon Awesome 4 stars
9/02/98 Johny A Fine Film 4 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Good flick. Kath Quinlan can do no wrong in my eyes. 4 stars
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  30-Jun-1994 (PG)
  DVD: 29-Mar-2005


  31-Aug-1995 (PG)

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