Apollo 13

Featured In Issue 109, June 2006

WSR Score
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Rated PG for language, peril, and emotional intensity.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (HD-30)
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Ron Howard
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Dolby Digital+ 5.1
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Based on the book "Lost Moon" by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, Apollo 13 is an astonishing space epic that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit. This is the true story of a routine space flight gone wrong in 1970. Three astronauts—Jim Lovell (Hanks), Fred Haise (Paxton) and Jack Sweigert (Bacon)—face a desperate fight for their lives when an oxygen tank explodes over 200,000 miles from Earth. While they labor frantically in the space capsule, the NASA Mission Control Center ground crew races against the odds to get these brave men back safely.

Special features include a 58-minute featurette Lost Moon: The Triumph Of Apollo 13, 48 minutes about the history of space travel, the 12-minute Lucky 13: An Astronauts' Story, and two feature audio commentaries—the first with director Ron Howard, and the second with Jim and Marilyn Lovell.

The oldest title in the HD DVD launch, this HD DVD picture looks incredible and filmlike, especially compared to standard DVD. The Super 35-originated images are sharp and nicely detailed, with some fine film grain and occasional flecks of dirt inherent in the source element. There are some scenes that have soft, slightly dated characteristics, but the look of the picture is perfectly complementary to the 1970 setting of the story. Details and textures are incredibly well rendered, and shows off this title (which has been released many times over for home viewing) with a level of definition that has not yet been seen in home theatres. VC-1 compression is nicely done, with virtually no consequential artifacts. (Suzanne Hodges)

The Dolby® Digital•Plus 5.1-channel soundtrack is limited by the original master's age, with poor fidelity when compared to the newer movie soundtracks. The improved resolution of the Dolby Digital•Plus soundtrack actually accentuates the problems created by the age. Dialogue leaks across each of the front three screen channels, and the surround channels are often disregarded completely, even in outdoor scenes. There is ample deep bass in the front full-range channels, often dropping down to 40 Hz and below, but the LFE channel is not incorporated often. When it is incorporated, however, you can really feel it, with deep, tight bass delivered at extreme levels. The louder scenes are strife with distortion, which can be quite distracting. While the original Apollo 13 release was a standout during the early years of DVD, the same cannot be said about the early years of HD DVD. (Danny Richelieu)