The story starts off with the Apollo 11 landing on the moon broadcast on Jim Lovell's (Hanks) TV, narrated by Walter Cronkite. Jim and his crew of Fred Haise (Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Sinise), were Neil Armstrong's back up crew and they are slated to go to the moon on Apollo 14. When illness prevents the original crew of Apollo 13 from flying, Jim's crew is called in to take their place. They do so with enthusiasm and soon are ready to go until 2 days before the launch, Jim's told that Mattingly cannot fly and that they have to replace him with Swigert (Bacon) or postpone their trip for a longer period of time. Jim protests but ultimately gives in and Swigert comes and replaces Mattingly.
No one knows if the shield will hold as the ship goes into radio blackout. Black out normally only lasts for 3 minutes but when 3 minutes turns into 4 almost everyone gives up hope until they hear static over the airwaves and the voice of the astronaut answering the call. With the triumphant return of the astronauts, the movie ends with a narration by Jim Lovell explaining what was discovered about the explosion after everything was said and done.
All of the actors in this movie did amazing jobs in portraying their characters. They more than exceeded my expectations. Ed Harris did an awesome job playing the stoic no-nonsense Gene Kranz that kept everything at mission control going. It's no wonder he got nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards and won the SAG award. Tom Hanks played Jim Lovell perfectly and was able to keep the team going and stay on top of everything. Gary Sinise was outstanding as the bitter Mattingly turned into hero as he helped get the astronauts home.The chemistry between this cast was very apparent and it earned them the SAG award for Best Performance By A Cast. Kathleen Quinlan played Marilyn well as she tried to hold herself together and give nothing away to her children. Her eyes were very expressive and said it all.
The music for this movie literally blew me away. James Horner did a magnificent job in composing this masterpiece. His music was the glue that helped hold this movie together along with the superb film editing done. One of the best film cuts in the movie was us seeing the joy of Swigert getting told that he's going to the moon and then cutting straight to Mattingly being told that he's not. The contrast between the two characters is astounding. Another good film technique used was an extreme close up on Marilyn's right eye as she awakens from a nightmare that has Jim's mission ending horribly. During the launch of Apollo 13, they used CG technology to put us right over the launch space to give us a view from above as the rocket leaves the earth. That's something that would have been impossible to do in real life. The music always knew right where to come in and put the same feelings inside us that the characters in the movie felt. It's something you have to hear for yourself. (I'm going to try attaching a clip of some of the awesome music to this blog but I don't know if it will work.) Ok, I know the clip of music is almost 10 minutes long but you just have to hear the first 3-4 minutes or so to understand what I'm talking about. So don't think you have to listen to the whole thing, (although it really is worth it), but just listen to the first 3-4 minutes and you'll have a taste of what the music feels like.