Andy Zhang: Human Wolves --- Apollo 13 Review

It's a jovial scene at Jim's home, Houston. Astronauts and their families get together watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successful landing on the Moon. After all the guests go back home, the party is over. Marilyn, Jim's wife sighs: “I can not deal with the cleaning up, Let's sell the house”, Jim is watching the shining, small Moon, says “Let's sell the house”, sympathetically. Women are all fond of their houses. While Jim was in Space before, Marilyn didn't sleep, instead she kept vacuum cleaning the house over and over again. Marilyn will do the house cleaning chores this time, definitely.
Jim Lovell is a veteran pilot in NASA. From the very beginning we know he flew Apollo 8 circling around the Moon which was only sixty nautical miles down below his spaceship. So he is the right guy to introduce all the vehicles, large or small, to the public as well as his youngest son Jeffrey. When he leads a flock of journos into the Saturn-5 rocket assembly room, we can see the towering rocket, but we have not seen how sensational it is yet. He is very proud of being part of the project because even the cleaner is proud of being too. Everyone is proud to be part of the project, even the cleaners.
Jim boasts of the huge memory of the computer and its fast data processing capabilities, which was maybe one tenth of a today's mobile phone's calculating power. However, in answering a female journalist's question “How do you go to the bathroom in Space”, Jim is more embarrassed than the lady. Jim says it is a highly technical process, but soon they will show us that in Space this process ends up being very disgusting. This indicates human technology still has plenty of room to improve and the space trip is very uncomfortable. Even his young son can sense the danger, because he asks Dad if he knows the three guys who were incinerated in the simulator spaceship on the launch pad during a routine training. Jim describes his successful landing on the Moon to his son, whereas he named a Moon mountain after wife Marilyn, which makes the household wife feel her husband's romantic nature and feel excited hearing Jim is penciled in to fly Apollo 13 ahead of schedule, but soon we will see Marilyn change her attitude towards the Moon.
Jim's oldest daughter Barbara does not care much about her father's space trip, she is more interested in partying and feels distraught about the Beatle's breaking up, which is derided by her younger sister Susan as stupid. We can see a pre-teenage girl is much closer to her father.
Everyone feels contented going about their own businesses except Ken Mattingly. He is very upset. Ken is trained to fly the Command Module, in which he will be circling around the Moon alone. He is very patient to hone his docking skills. Any movement of the simulator he makes has to be up to his 100 per cent satisfaction, otherwise he repeats the procedure. On this trip he will never touch down the Moon , his job is to pick up Jim and Fred on the Moon orbit, whereas the whole world will focus on the surface of the Moon. Very much to his surprise and disappointment, he is suspected of having Measles after a blood test, so he is replaced by his backup CM pilot Jack just two days before the launch. After the launch, Ken returns to his flat and hangs up his telephone. He feels even loner and ostracised than he would have been circling around the Moon on his own.
“Bang”, *we have a very big problem. It is a big noise on my truck. We are on the second trip to load the balance of furniture cargo, traveling in a 100kilomter zone, I can see in my right mirror something black in pieces shooting off to the back. But I still feel the truck was hit in the front, maybe by a bird. In a truck, I can never discern where the big Bang comes from. We stop in an emergency parking lane, having a look at the back; One of the rear wheels was torn apart, the metal mud guard was bent backwards by the swinging rubber chunk. We cancel the job to find a truck tyre repair shop, luckily we get one. We resume the job the next day. Fortunately.
After the same scary “Bang” on the service module, the routine mission to the Moon suddenly requires improvising a brand new procedure, stretching the machines' and the crews' abilities to extreme, bringing people back to the Earth. Exactly like Gene Kranz says “Unfortunately we are not landing on the Moon, are we? I don't care what it's designed to do, I care what it can do.” Gene is the mission control director. The very first thing he asks his men to do is “Quieten down, people”, and listens to the problems one at a time. No sooner has Gene passed the recommendation to shut down some fuel cells than Jim realises that they just lost the Moon, however they have to continue their flight to the Moon, because they are on the high speed one-way street like I was.
Up to now,hovering above the Moon on the dark side, Jim and his crew, minds alike, still have a landing vision. In the darkness, we can hear a woman's moaning from the movie's background soundtrack, it is Marilyn. The crew panic, they are not sure if they should take a plunge to the surface of the Moon, they feel lost in an abyss. Jim envisions his successful Moon landing, reaching the zenith of his professional pilot career. This is his last space trip as we all know. The soundtrack gives the audiences a strong sense of unfulfilled dream. At this moment, I am on board with Jim, I am already able to touch the Moon's hands, it's a girl. Jim, stop chasing, go, please. I would give Jim a full Blue Moon.

Back on the Earth, Marilyn defends her home from an army of Journalists invading her lawn, because the Media thrives on accidents, loves ab-norms and hates routines. These **news people's presence will only scare Marilyn's young son and daughters. By the way, I am fond of Media industry over Marilyn.
The first person she goes to console is the youngest son Jeffrey. But the mother's assurance of the Dad's safety reminds the youngster of the all time concern - “The Door”, which emphasises the NASA has not fixed the problem yet, the electrical sparks which were fatal to Apollo One, killing three American astronauts.
The second person she goes to is her mother in law, Blanche, who is in a nursing home. The grandma assures Marilyn that Jim will land the spacecraft exactly like landing a washing machine. I doubt Jim's ability to handle a washing machine like I can. After moving over thousands of customers' washing machines, I can dance with a washing machine. If I drop a washing machine to the ground, I buy a new one for the customer when Harvey Norman is on a sales promotion campaign. As Marilyn is always supportive, Jim is able to focus on honing his space flying skills.
When she is alone in her bedroom, listening to the latest NASA news reports on her husband's space craft status: lack of electricity, lack of oxygen instead of carbon dioxide, she trembles, reduces to tears. Her stress is no less than her husband. I would give this strong woman a big Pink Moon.
After they sling around the Moon, seeing the blue Earth over the lunar horizon. Jim's crew's intentions are becoming clear now, go home, to reunite with their wives, stop crying about the love affair, giving up the dream. They need to distance themselves away from the Moon ASAP.
Ken Mattingly and Jim's crew persevere to the last minute before reentry, squeezing every single Amp of power from any circuits on board the simulator, suffering cold and disorientation to save electricity. They are short of electricity by four Amps. At this crucial moment, even Gene yells and kicks and Jim's voice is trembling because the Earth in his window is getting bigger and bigger, soon they will have plenty of oxygen outside their spaceship Odyssey. They need power to deploy the parachutes to touch down on the Earth ASAP, differently, SLOW.
Finally, Ken comes up with the idea of reversing the sequence of power supply from the Lunar module back to the Command Module. After securing the last four Amps, they jettison the LEM. The crew farewells The Aquarius. Fred's comment: “**She is a good ship”, reminding me of my first car in Australia. It is a Toyota sedan which had been with me for 12 years, I call it Old Blue. It is not financially viable to keep repairing it so I load it up with as much **ballast of metals as I can in the boot, on the passenger's seats to make the car heavier to attract more money, with tears welling up in my eyes. I drive it to the metal scrap yard. It generates precious 182 dollars worth of income for me.
Ken is recruited in the Apollo 16 Mission later as a Command Module pilot. Never landed on the Moon. I would give this loyal guy a 100 per cent round Metallic Moon.
Before reentry, Jim gives the control of the CM back to Jack, like he did after the launch before. Jack wins his instructor's trust with his **good thinking(thoughtfullness). Before going into the inferno, being engulfed by red flames, Fred and Jack reply with silence hearing Jim's “Gentlemen, it's been a privilege flying with you”, although all the movie viewers can hear their reply in minds are “likewise,Sir”. They come back to the Earth along a streak of fire instead of a trail of fire down below like before.
Fred Haise is to fly Apollo 18 as the LEM pilot, but the NASA cuts the budget, the planned flight is canceled. He missed out landing on the Moon by one another mission. Jack Swigert will never fly a spacecraft again either. I would give two shining Silver Moons to Fred and Jack.
During the longer than usual blackout waiting, at Jim's home, Barbara seeks her Mum's hug, tearing up, whereas her young sister looks more composed. So we can see a big girl tends to become more emotional, because she loves Dad. When the voice of Jim comes “Houston,This is Odyssey, it's good to see you again”, women scream for the reunions, and men's cheers and laughter erupt in the mission control room except for one man, Gene Kranz. The ship splashed down, Jim's “The ship is secured, Apollo 13 signing off” been heard, Gene shouts out “Good job” with both thumbs up. I would give Gene, the mission control director a Golden Moon.
I would argue public's opinion about this mission, “It's a successful failure”. People were having a party watching the first man landing on the Moon, but for Apollo 13, people's reactions show it is a big triumph. From the Apollo 13 on, all the other Apollo missions will have a life boat.
Hi, Marilyn(This Marilyn is not Jim's wife, she is my mentor and friend, she checked this movie review), ** “Double check my arithmetic please”, I would rate Apollo 13 with the maximum of five Moons, one Moon to Jim Lovell, Marilyn Lovell, Ken Mattingly, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Gene Kranz each, but they are six people. I am not as good at arithmetic as Jim is. But luckily, I catch Marilyn's angry speech on the phone: “ **Don't give me that NASA bullshit, I want to know what's happening with my husband”. I withdraw the big Pink Moon to her.
This team of astronauts and engineers look out for each other when in danger and are highly resourceful and extremely disciplined. They become exstatic seeing the full Moon. They are a pack of Wolves, in reality.
Some Explanations:
Aquarius is the LEM, Lunar Module
Odyssey is the CM, Command Module
The following lines are marked with **(exactly) or *(slightly changed):
Hi, Houston , we have a problem. – By Jim
Good thinking. – By Jim
News people. - By Henry, an NASA official
Don't give me that NASA bullshit. --By Marilyn
Hi, Houston, double check my arithmetic. – By Jim
She is a good ship. – By Fred
To load ballast – By Ken
These lines are the speeches in the movie of Apollo 13.
(Review on The Wolf of Wall Street to be continued...)
Andy Zhang