APOLLO 11 – A Review by Cynthia Flores
It’s tough to make a documentary about something we know the beginning middle and end of and this film does a hell of a job keeping us in suspense. Taking us step by step, even minute by minute at times, this film reveals a whole other side to this historic event. What I really loved about this film is that even though we all know that the Apollo 11 moon landing was a success, there are parts of the movie where you’re holding your breath right along with the technicians from Houston and the rest of the world that was watching it happen at the time. All of us waiting to see if the men were going to make it past that first push to the moon. That’s the mark of an excellent film let alone a documentary.
Apollo 11 highlights all the hard work and planning that it took to turn President JFK’s dream of putting a man on the moon into reality. There were so many seemingly impossible maneuvers that had to be done during that whole trip. This film allows us to see the actual footage that only NASA has seen, which gives us even more appreciation of how difficult the whole thing was. We watch as it was done by hand and not by a computer or autopilot like they do today. Some of those maneuvers seem insane when seen on the big screen.
There are no voice-overs or grand narration from a deep-voiced actor in this film. Instead, director Todd Douglas Miller chose to let the actual audio from the film archival footage shot in 70mm film that was previously unreleased to the public tell the story. He also decided to use “split-screen” sections during parts of the movie to great effect. Usually, it’s a gimmick that’s distracting when a filmmaker puts up split-screen action, but it works here. The technique only enhances the tension in the room. There are also lower third graphics giving us up-to-date stats on the mission. Giving us just enough of the technical velocities and stats over captivating images and a fantastic score by Matt Morton. Matt orchestrated, performed, and mixed all of the original music for the film using instruments and effects that existed at the time of the mission to add that extra bit of authenticity to it.
Apollo 11 is one of the best documentaries about landing on the moon that I’ve ever seen. It’s heart-pounding storytelling of the behind the scenes effort it took to be the first mission to land on the moon with its now three infamous astronauts named Buzz, Neil, and Michael is just magnificent and a joy to watch. Seeing the event, the way it’s presented here makes it fresh and new even fifty years after the fact. Remember, it will be in IMAX for only one week before it’s released in standard 2D screenings. If you want to really feel the roar of the rockets and get an idea of how grand a mission this was, then go see it in IMAX first. Then see it again (I know you will) in 2D to see what you may have missed the first time around. I give Apollo 11 an A+ rating.
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 33min
Limited Release in Imax March 1st AMC NorthPark 15, Cinemark 17 and Imax Theatre, AMC Grapevine Mills 30 Then wide release March 8th
Starring: Buzz Aldin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, NASA ground team
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.