The Not-So-Cool Stuff A.K.A. The Complaints Department:
No real complaints, but I've always been a sucker for animated menus and Apollo 13 has none.
If there's such a thing as 'just enough' content for a DVD, this one comes pretty close. Everything included is of a very good quality, with no overkill or unnecessary features. Unnecessary features would be deleted scenes that make you think, "I see why they deleted that!" or an option for "Other Films Starring Tom Hanks". Luckily, the makers of the Apollo 13 DVD chose not to include anything lame!
The Technical Stuff
Format: Region 1 (US and Canada) - Single Sided Dual Layer Disc
Theatrical Film Version - Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation (2.35.1)
Dolby Surround - English
Dolby Digital 5.1 - English / French / Spanish
Language Tracks - English / French / Spanish
The Really Cool Stuff
It's nearly a toss-up between this and the commentary tracks, but the best feature, by a slim margin, is a documentary entitled "Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 (The Making of Apollo 13)".
Two excellent feature commentary tracks are available for this film.
1) Director's commentary track with Ron Howard: Information on virtually every aspect of making the film. Great insight into the director's craft from one of America's most respected filmmakers.
2) Commentary track with Jim and Marilyn Lovell: This is the track that almost tied for best DVD feature. Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell and his wife Marilyn share their views on the film, NASA, the Apollo program, the actual Apollo 13 mission, and much more! Jim provides a wealth of great technical details that are pure gold for space exploration enthusiasts, and Marilyn brings wonderful emotional insight into what it means to be a NASA family, and an astronaut's wife. It's almost as though the Lovell's have come to visit, and are watching the movie with you!
"Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 (The Making of Apollo 13)"
This 60 minute documentary does double duty as a great behind-the-scenes making of the film, as well as a fantastic chronicle of the actual events depicted in the movie. Features interviews with the entire principal cast and crew, as well as many of the actual people who are portrayed in the film. Also features an in-depth look at the amazing special effects work of Apollo 13, effects so convincing many believed them to be actual NASA footage. (Thereby robbing Apollo 13 of a deserved Academy Award nomination for visual effects!) Astonishingly, not a single frame of actual NASA launch footage is used in Apollo 13.
The Usual Stuff
Menu Screen Presentation:
Rather plain by today's standards, Apollo 13's Main Menu screen features an Earth/Hanks/Moon stills collage and menu listings for Chapter List, Bonus Materials, Language Selection, and Play. Also features James Horner's musical score from the film. Chapter List features stills from appropriate scenes, but no music. Sub-menus also offer no musical accompaniment.
Sound and Image Quality:
Excellent on both counts. Awesome bass during blast-off!
The original theatrical trailer is included in widescreen format. Features a great Apollo 13 logo not seen in the film, and a scene which uses a different take from the (much better) take used in the movie.
Cast & Crew:
Good biographies for principal cast and Ron Howard.
Five pages of text about the difficulties of filming a movie in zero-gravity. For anyone who doesn't already know, most of the scenes in Apollo 13 that appear to be in a weightless environment really were. The sets were built inside a KC-135 aircraft, which then flew what is known as a 'parabola' flightpath. This path creates weightless periods of about 25 seconds. NASA astronauts use this method to simulate weightlessness in outer space. During filming, the cast and crew of Apollo 13 logged more weightless time than many of America's real astronauts!
English captions are provided for the hearing impaired, and Spanish subtitles are also provided.
Language tracks are provided in English, French, and Spanish.
A.J.'s DVD Rating: 4 Stars - All Systems Go!
March 7, 2001
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