Apollo 13: Special Edition (1995)

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Released 15-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
dts Trailer
Audio Commentary-Ron Howard (Director)
Audio Commentary-Jim And Marilyn Lovell
Featurette-Making Of-Lost Moon : The Triumph Of Apollo 13
Featurette-Conquering Space: The Moon And Beyond
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Lucky 13: The Astronauts' Story
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 134:59
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Ron Howard
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tom Hanks
Bill Paxton
Kevin Bacon
Gary Sinise
Ed Harris
Kathleen Quinlan
Mary Kate Schellhardt
Emily Ann Lloyd
Miko Hughes
Max Elliott Slade
Jean Speegle Howard
Tracy Reiner
David Andrews
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Will Holt
James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Hungarian
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Icelandic
Hebrew
English Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
English Titling
Hungarian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Ron Howard's dramatisation of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission was released; harder still to believe that it's been 35 years since the world held its collective breath while three frail humans walked a survival tightrope in the vast nothingness of space. Originally released to DVD in 1999, we now have a 2 disc special edition to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film with more extras and DTS sound. MichaelD's review of the original release can be found here.

    Ron Howard took Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon and turned it into a movie that earned nine Oscar nominations, and won two (editing and sound) at the 1996 Academy Awards. Apollo 13 missed best picture - Braveheart took the award in 1996 - but that in no way means this is a second rate movie. On the contrary, Ron Howard has crafted an immensely entertaining adventure that is worth a look again and again.

    It must be borne in mind when watching this movie that it is a dramatisation, not a documentary, and some artistic licence has been taken with the events. Some minor details have been altered to have the story run better or make the movie visually more interesting, but the major incidents of the story and the locations and procedures of the time have been meticulously recreated.

    Those of you who are too young to remember the Apollo space programme cannot begin to understand the impact it had on the world and the universal interest it generated. I was almost seven when Apollo 11 made the historic first moon landing, and I can still vividly remember sitting transfixed in front of our old Black-and-White TV, watching the blurry, grainy image of Neil Armstrong take humanity's first step on a world other than this one.

    The Apollo programme had everything to capture a young boy's, and the world's,  imagination. Here was technology at its very limits. There had been nothing like the Saturn V rocket ever built before, or built since. A thirty-three story tower flung into space by the most powerful engine ever built - even today we cannot return to the moon as the Space Shuttle's engines do not have the power to break Earth's gravitational pull.

    Here, also, was real adventure. We were pressing out into the last great frontier. No longer would we be tied to one insignificant planet - the universe would be ours to explore. Nothing now stood in our way, mankind could do anything; or so it seemed then. Of course, less than twelve months after the success of Apollo 11, Apollo 13 gave the world a wake-up call and showed just how dangerous and fragile space travel is. Trapped in a crippled space ship with no chance of being rescued, three men struggled to survive with only a radio link for a life-line, while the world watched and prayed. Their successful return to Earth turned tragedy to triumph and it is fitting that their story be told. If it were fiction, no-one would believe it was possible.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is superb, as it was for the original release. Colours are vibrant without being artificial and shadow detail is excellent.

    There are some shots that are intentionally grainy as they are either archival footage or intended to appear that way. Aside from these the video is nice and crisp - not quite enough to be reference quality, but very close to it.

    In his original review, MichaelD noted some minor aliasing, but I did not notice any in this transfer. If it's still there, it's very minor.

    This is the type of transfer that makes you fall in love with the DVD format all over again. Crisp, vibrant video that is very hard to fault.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Finally we get the DTS soundtrack that Region 1 had from the initial release. And what a wonderful soundtrack it is. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout, and the music is an aural delight. The clarion tone of the solo trumpet at the beginning is a joy to listen to and sets the standard for the rest of the music.

    Surrounds and sub-woofer get a healthy workout at appropriate moments, such as the launch sequence and the explosion, but are never harsh. Rather than gee-whiz, bang-crash bass there is a controlled fullness and depth that is even more impressive for its relative subtlety, the launch rumble being felt as much as heard. This is an intelligent mix that uses the whole audio spectrum wisely, justly earning the 1996 Academy Award for sound.

    While I'm not convinced the DTS audio is reference quality, it is very close and is an impressive soundtrack.

    A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also offered, and a brief listen shows it to be a competent transfer, but not in the same league as the DTS track for clarity. I believe the Dolby Digital track is unchanged from the original release, so I'll direct you to MichaelD's earlier review for more.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A montage of animated images from the movie with the theme music behind them precedes a fairly static menu.

Audio Commentary - Ron Howard (Director)

    The original release also has a commentary by Ron Howard, and I assume this is the same one. In MichaelD's review of the original, he said he regarded it as "A worthwhile commentary, but not the best one I have ever heard". To an extent I agree with this, but, while not "the best one I have ever heard", I did find it most enjoyable. When many of the commentaries offered seem to be little more than ego trips for the directors, or done because "we have to have a commentary", this one actually offers good background to the movie, technical information on the filming process and insights into the decisions made. My wife said she enjoyed the commentary more than the feature, probably because it provides an extra insight into the actual event that gives a greater appreciation of the story. Yes, Ron Howard's delivery is not the most vibrant I've heard, but it is interesting. If only more commentaries were of the quality of this one.

Audio Commentary - Jim And Marilyn Lovell

    Again, this was on the original release. A different style to the director's commentary, this one has many more pauses so you get the feeling that you are watching the film with Jim and Marilyn with them reminiscing as you watch. What makes this commentary unique is the personal insights that Jim Lovell is able to relate as to what it was really like being there, as well as his ability to point out detail changes between the film and reality. Marilyn Lovell's contribution adds another dimension to the events as she discusses her thoughts and feelings as she watched the mission unfold with her husband at centre stage.

Featurette-Making Of-Lost Moon : The Triumph Of Apollo 13 (58:06)

    Your standard "making of" television special. Nothing unexpected, but fairly interesting with cast and crew discussing the making of the film and how the effects were shot. Jim Lovell is also interviewed to add that extra authenticity to the proceedings.

Featurette-Conquering Space: The Moon And Beyond (48:26)

    A NASA promotional documentary that follows NASA's space exploration from the Mercury programme through to today and on to tomorrow. Filmed in 2003, some of the future events discussed have already occurred and the questions raised now have answers. I guess that's the penalty for living in a time of such rapid technological changes - documentaries such as these can date rapidly. Still, a reasonably interesting look at NASA, even through the rose coloured-glasses.

Theatrical Trailer (2:24)

    The theatrical trailer for the movie shown in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Featurette-Lucky 13: The Astronauts' Story (12:12)

    A story from the US TV show Dateline that covers the anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission and looks back at the events. Crew members and staff from mission control are interviewed about their roles in the incident.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Anniversary Edition gains an IMAX version of the film with a DTS soundtrack, but does not get DTS sound on the theatrical feature. The IMAX version is 24 minutes shorter than the theatrical release as it was cut due to reel size limitations with the IMAX system. The feature has a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, French and German.

    Region 4 misses out on the IMAX version and gets a Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtack instead of the French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.

    Unless you have a real passion for French or German, the real choice between Region 1 and Region 4 is do you want to trade the DTS sound on the feature for the IMAX version? In my opinion, I'd go with the Region 4 and take the DTS sound on the feature. The video is so good that it is unlikely the IMAX version would be a vast improvement in quality on the average home theatre set-up, and it is edited. So Region 4 wins this round. Just.

Summary

    A brilliant movie and a fitting tribute to the bravery of the Apollo 13 crew and the dedication of the ground staff that helped bring them home. If this isn't already in your collection, it should be. If it is, the DTS sound makes a strong argument for trading in your original copy on the Special Edition, even if the added extras don't. The additional extras in this release are good, but not great, and this movie can sell itself even if there were no extras.

    Video is excellent.

    Audio is wonderful.

    The additional extras are interesting, but not compelling.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Glen Randall (If you're really bored, you can read my bio)
Monday, September 05, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1200Y, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig M84-210 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596
SpeakersRichter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer

Other Reviews
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Comments (Add)
A fine review. - Ron Stevens REPLY POSTED
Personal connection -
R1 release has Full bit rate DTS - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
Ratings logo can be seen from space -
The nonsense of Superbit - zetmoon
re: The nonsense of Superbit - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Not the best video transfer for 100" + screens. -