Apollo 13 15th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover for Apollo 13 is a bit of a disappointment, with the blurry image that also adorned the DVD release years ago.  It is also only a part of the cover, with a lot of wasted space (literally, it is a photo of space) that takes up a majority of the cover.  I get the use of the shot from the movie, but I think it would be prudent to make it high def, and to use more of the cover.

Before I get to the menu, I think that I have to at least mention the atrocious loading time for this Blu-ray.  It is by far the longest loading Blu-ray yet, and it doesn’t help that half-way through, I was presented with an invite to join a social network called “Social Blu.”  Enough with the long load-outs and extras – put them in the extras section of the disk.   Please don’t get me mad before I sit down to enjoy a movie.  In a new twist, I was also a bit surprised to see ads for other movies while I sat at the main menu, which was the classic black background that Universal uses, with the choices on the left, and scenes from the movie running in the middle of the menu.

Features: 6/10

  • Lost Moon: The Triumph Of Apollo 13 – Lost Moon is a behind the scenes documentary of the making of  Apollo 13.  This extra includes interviews as well as behind the scenes shots of the action as it unfolded on the set of the movie.
  • Conquering Space: The Moon & Beyond – This 50 minute long extra is a kind of documentary that talks about the space race as it occurred between the United States and the Soviet Union.  It is a very informative look back at the days that lead up to the U.S. putting a man on the moon, and what it meant to the world at the time.
  • Lucky 13: The Astronauts Story – This feature focuses on 3 of the main characters that are portrayed int he movie.   It checks in at about 20 minutes or so, and focuses on Lovell, Fred Haise, and Gene Kranz, and it is a decent little watch.
  • Feature Commentaries – We get two commentaries on this release, which include Director Ron Howard’s commentary, which is exceptionally informative and good, as well as a second commentary, featuring Jim Lovell and his wife Marilyn.  The second commentary is equally as good, with a bunch of information about the real life version of the movie.
  • D-Box Motion Enabled – For those of you lucky enough to have D-Box enabled home theaters, this is one of the movies that will rattle your seat and your brain as the rockets blast off in your home movie palace.  I am not so lucky, so I can only tell you that this movie is supposed to do exactly that.
  • Pocket Blu – Pocket-Blu is basically access to information from your iPhone or blackberry, which is a bit new and strange.
  • U-Control (The Apollo Era/Tech-Splanations) – We get the return of U-Control, which is Universal’s pop up video type of set up, which brings up facts about the movie and the science in this case behind the Apollo 13 space flight.
  • BDLive – BDLive is included here, and even though I did not delve too far into it, it seems to be your standard online Blu-ray experience.

The Movie: 8/10
It was 15 years ago???  It is hard to believe that this little movie was released 15 years ago.  It kind of makes me feel old to be honest.

Apollo 13 was the movie that followed Hanks after Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, and he was every bit as good in this one as he was those movies.  Hanks plays Jim Lovell, the captain of the Apollo 14 spacecraft, who gets bumped at the last minute with his crew to Apollo 13.  Lovell, who watched as Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, was dreaming of doing the same, and was handed the Apollo 14 mission in which he thought he would get to join Armstrong as one of the few men on earth who have had the opportunity to do so.  Apollo 13 does a wonderful job of showing the rush of the mission to get back to the moon, and how the whole situation turned from a routine  voyage to a complete nightmare in the matter of a few minutes.

Hanks is joined by Bill Paxton who plays Fred Haise, as well as Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly, who was bumped off the flight for Jack Swigert, played by Kevin Bacon.  the cast is phenomenal, and really bring an heir of truth to the movie itself.  The space flight turns into a rescue mission as Gen Kranz, played exceptionally by Ed Harris drives his team on the ground to find ways to bring back the astronauts, who are sitting in the spacecraft as oxygen pours out of it, as they learn that not only are they not going to get to walk on the surface of the moon, but that they are in serious danger of not making it back to earth.

The movie is quite well done, and like I mentioned, the cast has a lot to do with it.  Overall Apollo 13 is a great little movie, and the mere fact that it came out 15 years ago, and is now being re-released is great, until you (if you are as old as me) start to realize how old that makes you feel.

Audio & Video: 8/10
While you have to take into account that Apollo 13 is 15 years old, the video and audio are very good overall.  The 2.35:1 1080p AVC encode is nice, but the movie is not as sharp as one would expect if it were made today, simply due to the way it was shot.

The audio is well done with great use of the rear speakers.  The DTS-HD audio is nicely preserved and sounds very good especially during all of the shots of the rocket and space.

Value: 7/10
It is nice to see some of these types of movies being released on Blu-ray, and a movie like Apollo 13 is a great addition to your collection, but it is getting hard to recommend buying everything again on Blu-ray.  If you have not seen the movie in a while, it is a great one to watch, and you really get to appreciate just how good Tom Hanks (and the rest of this cast) really are, but overall I would say rent this one.

Overall Score 7/10