[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=3916&w=l[/img]Title: Apollo 13
Starring: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleeen Quinlan
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger (book), William Boyles Jr. and Al Reinert (Screenplay)
Runtime: 140 min
Release Date: 4/13/2010 (Blu-Ray)
The year is 1970 - Apollo 11 has landed on the moon and the United States has won the space race. Despite battles in congress NASA has the funding to continue its Apollo program and send more people to the moon. Tom Hanks plays Jim Lovell - an astronaut slated to be on Apollo 14. He and his crew are bumped up to Apollo 13 when one of the original Apollo 13 crew falls ill. After months of gruelling traning the crew undergo a successful launch and are on their way to the moon when disaster strikes - a routine stir of the oxygen tanks results in an explosion that cripples the vessel. The crew is rapidly losing air and are spiraling out of control - Lovell utters the now infamous words "Houston, we have a problem" as the master alarm buzzes and multiple systems fail.
Apollo 13 follows the story of Jim Lovell and his crew, Fred Haise (Lunar module pilot), John Swigert (Command) module pilot) and Lovell himsef (commander), as they fight to stay alive and return to earth before running out of air and power. With time and all the odds against them, the crew of Apollo 13 must cling to life and one another in the Aquarius lunar module while they hurtle back towards Earth. Meanwhile, NASA scientists work around the clock to find enough reserve power to complete the landing sequence and enough air to keep the crew alive.
This is not a perfect transfer, in that it isn't entirely consistent. It is however, a noticeable improvement over the DVD release. Detail that hasn't been visible since the original theatrical release is now visible once more and brings this classic film back to life. Certain scenes (primarily the shots set on Earth) are a little soft - however space scenes are generally very good in terms of both contrast and consistent clarity. The film has noticeable grain structure and at times this begins to appear as noise - mostly on Earth shots where a plain light colored wall or surface is visible in the background. This can be rather distracting at times which is a disappointment.
Given that this is a catalog title my hopes weren't especially high - I was fully braced for at least mild DNR and some Edge Enhancement. Luckily - the edge enhancement that is present isn't too terrible though there are some scenes where DNR is present - it is very difficult to discern if the softness is in the master or was applied during the authoring process.
The good news of course is that there's little to no black crushing going on - which is essential for a film set in space - and this really allows the scens inside the LEM and crew capsule to come to life. You won't find much to complain about with this film unless you are a nitpicker like myself. Overall - this is an adequate transfer that should make fans of the film quite happy but will leave videophiles extremely disappointed.
A note for owners of the HDDVD: This release is a significant downgrade from the HDDVD in terms of artificial manipulation. There has been a significant contrast boost in the BD version with quite a lot of manipulation performed to the picture itself resulting in lost detail. You should not purchase this disc if you want a PQ upgrade.
Apollo 13 is a favorite among bass heads for the launch scene ever since the first DVD release, and does not disappoint on Blu-Ray either. The film has perfectly resolved dialogue with a center channel mix that borders on perfection. When the explosion occurs the surround channels are full of pings and creaks that truly immerse the viewer in the suspense and terror the crew must have felt. Considering that this is a 15 year old catalog release the audio is spectacular and does not disappoint in the slightest.
Apollo 13 is rated PG for profanity and emotionally straining scenes. Overall this is a safe watch for the entire family though parents should be careful to explain things to children so they are not scared.
Unfortunately not many brand new extas have been included though fans of the film will be glad to see the excellent commentary from Jim and Marilyn Lovell.
Commentaries by Ron Howard and Jim and Marilyn Lovell.
Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 (58:06)
Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond (48:26)
Lucky 13: The Astronauts' Story (12:14)
Apollo 13 is a monumental achievement in film making with an excellent cast and a truly gripping story. This title has finally been re-released in a format that does it justice - with excellent audio and decent video quality and a solid set of extras. It is no surprise that this film garnered so much praise following its release - as it is gripping from start to finish and is beautifully filmed and edited. If you are even a modest fan of this film - you owe it to yourself to own the Blu-Ray for audio reasons alone. If you're an avid videophile with an eye for every flaw you may want to think about this purchase carefully. See you next time...