Movie Review: Apollo 11



Starring: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

Directed By: Todd Douglas Miller

Rated: G

Runtime: 1 hour 33 minutes

Lots of movies have been made about Apollo 11 and the moon landing.First Man just last year, Hidden Figures, the Tom Hanks HBO documentary ‘From the Earth to the Moon’.All of those are fine examples of space travel that ends with Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the surface of the moon.But what makes Apollo 11 different from the rest is that two-fold.One, it uses NASA’s original footage from the mission.Shot on 70mm film and previously unreleased to the public.

And Two, there is no narration.The folks at NASA communicate so well during a mission and are such sticklers for detail that their communication during the mission narrates the story for us.“Ok this is what we’re doing now, does it look good to you?Yes, that looks good to me, let’s go ahead and do it.Ok.Doing the thing.What’s next?”It’s so detailed that there is no need for a narrator to tell you what is happening.There’s no need for talking heads throughout the movie to give you their thoughts.The footage speaks for itself.

The film from NASA has been beautifully restored and colorized, giving us the greatest glimpse yet into what it was like to sit in the cockpit with Neil Armstrong, to be at Mission Control during launch, and to be on the surface of the moon with Neil and Buzz as they went on their spacewalk.The production team for this film poured over 11,000 hours of audio recordings to sync it up to the mission control footage.

How did Michael Collins feel about being the third man on the Apollo 11 mission?How did he feel being in The Eagle as everyone else got to walk on the moon’s surface?What did mission control think of Ted Kennedy and his responsibility for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne?What was it like to be quarantined for over two weeks after returning from outer space?Apollo 11 answers all these questions, plus about a dozen others you didn’t know you had.

Gripping from start to finish, I reveled at the beautiful new footage, feeling like a kid marveling at the wonders of space all over again.I was awe struck.I felt at times like I was riding along on Apollo 11.It doesn’t necessarily break new ground with information, it just lets you see this in a way you’ve never seen it before.

It reminded me a lot, especially towards the end, that when America puts its collective mind to something, we can accomplish anything.Americans work.And they work hard.You say something can’t be done, well darn it, we’re just going to have to prove you wrong.They said man would never walk on the moon.Not only did we accomplish that feat, but we did it 12 times.A dozen people have set foot on the moon.A feat that no other country in the world has been able to match.

Apollo 11 is a retread of an old story, yes.But it’s better than First Man.It feels warmer and more rewarding than the cold approach that movie took with the subject.This documentary feels new.Like seeing something with a fresh set of eyes.Amazingly detailed.Big, bright, and colorful.Apollo 11 is now the definitive re-telling of the mission that bears its name.If you lived through the event, see Apollo 11.Appreciate the hard work and sacrifices that went in to accomplishing our goal.If you’re too young to remember Apollo 11 or weren’t alive during it, see Apollo 11 and be reminded of a time when America wasn’t as fractured & worked together to fulfill dreams.

On a scale of 'See It/Stream It/Skip It' I would say See it on the biggest screen possible, with the best sound system available.

If you liked First Man, Hidden Figures, or Apollo 13 you might enjoy Apollo 11.

4 out of 5 stars.I’d be surprised if there were five documentaries better than this in 2019.I could really see an Oscar in 2020 for Apollo 11.


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