Apollo 13 (1995)

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Released 18-Aug-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary-Ron Howard (Director)
Audio Commentary-Jim & Marilyn Lovell
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 134:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Howard

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Tom Hanks
Kevin Bacon
Bill Paxton
Gary Sinise
Ed Harris
Kathleen Quinlan
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music James Horner

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/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
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Apollo 13 is the stunning dramatization of the near-disaster of the Apollo 13 space flight. It sticks quite close to the sequence of real events that surrounded this dramatic space mission, during which an explosion in outer space nearly caused the loss of the entire crew. Tom Hanks plays Jim Lovell, the commander of the mission, Bill Paxton plays Fred Haise, and Kevin Bacon plays Jack Swigert, the pilot of the mission. A great supporting cast enhances the overall experience of this movie.

    Ron Howard manages to infuse this story with a tremendous amount of drama and suspense, despite some of the special effects looking just a little bit on the dated side. In his usual fashion, he manages to create a movie that is spectacular-looking, epic in proportion and yet still manages to contain a healthy quantity of human drama.

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Transfer Quality


    Warner Advanced Media Operations were responsible for the compression of this disc.

    This is a very good transfer, that just falls short of being reference quality because of a few minor quibbles.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was very sharp and very clear throughout except for scenes involving archival footage, or scenes which are deliberately hazy. Rarely, I noted a few shots that were unintentionally grainy, but this was a very subtle problem. Shadow detail was very good and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were nicely rendered throughout, with a wide range of palettes on display, ranging from the steely silver and grey of the space craft to the vivid colours of Earth.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. There was some very minor aliasing occasionally, but I suspect that this will completely pass you by if you are not specifically looking for it. Some of the burned-in titles wobble ever-so-slightly, but once again I suspect that this will completely pass by the casual viewer. Film artefacts were rare.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change just before the end of Chapter 28, at 66:27. The layer change is quite disruptive, with significant pauses in the audio and video stream at this point. The audio commentary tracks are both disrupted mid sentence by this layer change, so it is one of the poorer layer changes I have seen. Of course, it is far less disruptive than having to get up and flip the disc over.


    This soundtrack is very good, but I found myself just slightly disappointed in the experience - my expectations were marginally higher for this soundtrack than was actually delivered.

    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are seven audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, and two English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to both Audio Commentary tracks.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by James Horner was suitably dramatic and aptly suited the on-screen action at all times. It did, however, sound a little thin at times, so it would be interesting to compare this soundtrack to the DTS version which would probably sound a little better.

    The surround channels were frequently used for special effects and for music, and was nicely enveloping, though perhaps not quite as enveloping as I would have expected given the subject material. It nonetheless is an excellent soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was used aggressively at times, especially for the launch sequence, the explosion, and the re-entry. The exact level of support provided by this channel seemed to vary slightly, and at times the subwoofer called attention to itself, so it was not quite as well integrated into the overall soundtrack as I would have expected.


    There is a good selection of extras on this disc.


    The menu design is quite unremarkable, but themed appropriately.

Audio Commentary - Ron Howard (Director)

    This is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0, and features Ron Howard speaking about the technical issues surrounding the moviemaking process. Sitting back now, and thinking about the commentary track, a lot of interesting and useful information was imparted by Ron Howard during the commentary, but it was not all that exciting to listen to. There are quite a lot of pauses, and it is delivered in a somewhat plodding fashion by Ron Howard. A worthwhile commentary, but not the best one I have ever heard.

Audio Commentary - Jim Lovell & Marilyn Lovell

    This is also presented in Dolby Digital 1.0, and features mainly Jim Lovell speaking about his experiences aboard Apollo 13, with Marilyn Lovell providing the occasional background piece of information. There are frequent pauses, none overly-long, but this is also not a great commentary track in the grand scheme of things. What it is, however, is an amazingly unique commentary track given just who Jim & Marilyn Lovell are, and hence is worth at least one listen.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound.

Production Notes

    These are detailed, interesting and easy to read.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are also detailed and easy to read.

R4 vs R1

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

    There are two versions of this disc in Region 1. The Dolby Digital version of this disc has some additional extras compared with our version. It has a nearly hour-long documentary entitled Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 which sounds very interesting indeed, and Menu Audio which is basically an Isolated Music Score. The other specific feature of note is that the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 Kb/sec rather than the standard 384 Kb/sec as is the Region 4 version. The Region 1 DTS version of this disc is featureless, but the general consensus is that it sounds better than the Dolby Digital version.

    It's a hard call, but I think I would favour the Region 1 Dolby Digital version in this case, or if you want the absolute best movie-only experience, the Region 1 DTS version, not that there is anything wrong with the Region 4 version of this disc at all.


    Apollo 13 is an excellent film, and one that should be considered for everyone's DVD collection.

    The video quality is almost of reference quality.

    The audio quality is very good..

    The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Wednesday, August 25, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Rent - Paul C (bio)

Comments (Add)
Apollo 13: R1 CE vs R1 DTS vs R4 - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
R1 video vs R4 video - Paul C (bio)
R1 video vs R4 video [response] - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
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