Speculative Fiction Saturday: Apollo 13

apollo-13-movie-poster-1995-1020190529Okay, I admitting that I am totally cheating on this one. Lately, I haven’t been going out of my way to search for any intriguing speculative fiction. I mean last week I did Zathura, for crying out loud. Today, I’m going to do a film that is kind of one of my favorites. And it still works, twenty years later.

This film is probably one of the most American that I have ever seen, and it probably is definitely celebrating the human ability to overcome. The reason why I decided to review this film is because my son saw a trailer for a Matt Damon film called The Martian, and I was surprised when he said that he was interested in seeing it. Fortunately, I happened to be at the library and saw this film and realized that my kids hadn’t seen this movie and probably don’t know the history behind it.
So today, we are doing something a little different today, and reviewing a speculative film that actually happened!

Seriously, this film take place in space, has a tech malfunction, and they have to work together to solve it! Most Star Trek episodes have this premise, but it really happened!
Ron Howard really knew how to put this film together, starting at two of the biggest events in astronaut history. The first is the Apollo 1 disaster, something that I didn’t really learn about, and honestly, people don’t really want to talk about. The other is the first landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong, and it really captures how hopeful people were about space travel.

If you know anything about the history, then you know that Jim Lovell was a back-up team that was supposed to do Apollo 14, but his team was bumped up. The film shows his nervousness and excitement as he is about to land on the moon, and he is forced to replace a crew member Ken Mattingly with Jack Swaggart at the last minute. The scene where we just see Mattingly react is great. There isn’t a scene where anyone tells him, we just see his reaction. It is just plain awesome.

Then the film really goes out of its way to show the anticipation of a rocket launch. Ever since this film and Armageddon came out, I haven’t seen a good rocket take off scene in years. Even those who have never seen this film know what happens next: “Houston, we have a problem”.

It is absolutely fantastic to see Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon play astronauts who are on a mission where just one small thing goes wrong. It is enough so they have to scrap the mission, but the public wondered if the astronauts were going to make it. Even though I never lived during the time when this happened, you can feel it.

I am told that there is a scene in the film that a lot of people thought was made up, but it is true. The scene is with Marilyn Lovell when she loses her wedding ring in the shower. Apparently, that happened right before the launch, which is odd because I remember the first time I was watching this thinking: “yeah, that’s historical fiction for you”.

This is why I like this film, because you are seeing science fiction come to life! I don’t know if we will ever get into space exploration like we were back then, but I don’t know, maybe it will bring out the best in us, who knows.