"Apollo 13" is an intelligent and completely credible movie
about the troubled flight to the moon back in 1970. There
is surprising tension, despite knowing from history books
(or for those old enough, actual memories) that the astronauts
all returned home safely.
The astronaut crew is Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), crew leader
and all-around nice guy; Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), last
minute substitute and skirt chaser who must prove himself
to the crew; and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), who promptly gets
sick on the flight with a fever of 104 degrees.
The crew must deal with the disappointment of not landing
on the moon, with problems such as sleep deprivation and
carbon monoxide poisoning, and the knowledge that another
mistake could cost them their lives.
Kathleen Quinlan plays Hanks' wife. Her role is to look
beautiful and to worry about her husband. She suffers
throughout the film. Jean Speegle Howard plays Hanks'
grandmother. She is a stereotype of an elderly person,
is given the name Blanch, and her confusion is used to provide
Ed Harris, who played John Glenn in "The Right Stuff" (1984),
shows up as head of mission control. He gives a fine
performance, and has the honor of starring in both major
Hollywood films on the American space program.
There are many heroes in "Apollo 13." The astronauts are
heroes, of course, but so is the staff of mission control.
They are seen sleeping on the floor by their desks and
passionately discussing the best methods of getting the
astronauts home. As different obstacles present themselves,
mission control has to meet the challenge of overcoming
"Apollo 13" runs over two hours, is slow-paced, and sometimes
technical. These features do not detract from the film as
the story needs the length and technospeak to be properly
Copyright © 1995 Brian Koller