'Apollo 13' splash lands on UK Region free Blu-ray with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I'd heard some people complaining about it being 'DNR'd to death' but I have to say that it looked very good to me on the 50 inch plasma. There is a lot of fine detail on show here and the image is nice and sharp. The outer space effects shots look fantastic with extremely deep blacks. Skin tones look realistic in the Hollywood tan way. There's a fine veil of grain that is more noticeable in some scenes than others but this film was made in 1995 and shot on film - so of course there will be some grain, but nothing to whinge about. The launch scene looks tremendous, with the reds and oranges of the rocket flames. Overall it just looks so impressive with shots taken from angles we've never seen before.
A very good transfer indeed.
The audio on 'Apollo 13' comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix which is every bit as impressive as the picture quality. The story relies a lot on dialogue so what we get is good, clean and crisp speech from the centre channel. The knockout scene in the surround sound stakes just has to be the launch sequence where your lounge is filled with the roar of the engines. There is so much bass in this sequence that you might like to put breakable ornaments in a safe place before watching it. It really jump starts you subwoofer. As the spaceship is launched - you are there. Fantastic stuff.
In the silence of outer space, the surrounds are used to give us the background creaks of the ship that really make you feel that you are inside the tin can along with the crew.
The stereo pair swell with James Horner's triumphant, majestic score making this a very fulfilling sound mix. This is what home cinema is all about.
- Audio Commentaries
We get two commentaries here and they're both excellent.
The first has director Ron Howard flying solo and he's clearly still proud of the movie, his cast and crew. He has every right to be and what's more, he's very entertaining. Remember he was an Actor, but he is so enthusiastic that he's a pleasure to listen to. This is one comm. track that is not a chore and he gives us some real insight into the production.
The second commentary features Jim & Marilyn Lovell. It's not very often you get to hear it from the horse's mouth but this time we do and as the film unspools they share with us how they felt or how they were affected by the events on screen. This is the real human story. You really just have to listen to this one. It's history from people who were there.
- Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 (SD, 58 min)
I seem to remember all the featurettes from the previous DVD release but this one is the real star. We have meaty interviews with the cast and crew who fill us in on the work that was involved in the production. We also get to hear from the surviving astronauts who give us their views. The 58 minute run time just flies by.
- Conquering Space: The Moon and Beyond (SD, 48 min)
Here we get some background to the space race and why it was so important in the 1960's. More of interest to historians than movie buffs, but a welcome addition as it puts it all into context for a modern day audience.
- Lucky 13: The Astronauts' Story (SD, 12 min)
This is basically taken from a 1995 NBC Dateline special about the astronauts. It features interviews with the astronauts and they give their opinions on the movie which had only recently been released.
- Social Blu
This is a way to connect with your friends on a social network about your favourite movies. There's also a 'Pocket Blu' version for handheld devices. I can think of many other things I'd rather do.
- U Control
Now, call me old fashioned but I like to watch a movie without interruptions although those with the attention span of a ferret may like this feature.
There are two interactive features to dip into while watching the movie. "The Apollo Era" covers the history surrounding the mission and what was going on in the world at that time. "Tech-Splanations" gives us the low down on the techie speak. It explains what the characters are talking about (though most of us have worked it out for the last 15 years) and supplies us with information on the technology used on the Apollo 13 mission.
'Apollo 13' blasts off into danger with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. We get loads of fine detail in this generally sharp image with well tanned skin tones and outer space is most definitely a deep black. The movie looks the best it ever has in Home Cinema.
The DTS HD MA 5.1 surround mix really lets rip when the rocket blasts off filling your lounge with incredible bass and making the Earth move. Dialogue is crisp and clean throughout as the surrounds make us believe we're floating in a tin can like Major Tom.
The Extras are superb with the star turn being the commentary from Jim & Marilyn Lovell, although Ron Howard's comm. track is great fun. The docos, while seen before on DVD are well worth the watch.
This is one enthralling movie that's very well made with great performances from Messrs Hanks, Sinese, Paxton, Bacon and a career best from Ed Harris.
If you've never seen it, you don't know what you're missing.
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