One of Ron Howard’s favourite subjects possibly is “triumph over adversity”, and he has made a number of popular movies based on that theme with Apollo 13 being arguably his finest moment under the sun. Though the ‘Space Race’, one of the most spectacular offshoots of the Cold War, is a thing of the distant past, the film did a fine job of harkening us back to that fascinating era; this also managed to be a highly engaging movie with the ability to captivate its audience despite it not being a thriller, or for that matter, how the movie ends being already known beforehand to all. Astronaut and team lead Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), lunar module driver Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), and module pilot Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) – the latter a last minute replacement of Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinese) – take off for the moon in what was supposed to be the third manned lunar landing for NASA. However, due to some unforeseen technical glitches, they are forced to abort the mission midway, and now must find a way to return home safe – which becomes an incredibly challenging task given the fast depleting oxygen and electricity in the spacecraft and the chance of their being burnt alive while entering the earth’s atmosphere. Though stuffed with technical details, the movie was never overbearing, with the pulsating human drama, coupled with restrained performances by the ensemble cast and great production designs, ensuring that the whole – in this case a tense and uplifting tale of human courage, team spirit, and the willingness to fight till the very end – was far greater than the sum of the parts.
Director: Ron Howard
Genre: Drama/Historical Drama/Docu-fiction