Apollo 11

Apollo 11

In Theatres: 
Mar 01, 2019
Running Time: 
93 minutes

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the most famous space mission in history, the Apollo 11 moon landing with Commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and Command module pilot Michael Collins. In celebration of this momentous achievement, documentary Apollo 11 uses newly discovered 65mm footage and uncatalogued audio recordings to take audiences through the entire space mission from the shuttle launch to its landing on the moon and return trip home. It’s an awe-inspiring film that looks like it was just filmed yesterday and deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible, in this case IMAX.


Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 doesn’t tell you a narrative looking back on the mission and its importance within history. Instead, the documentary presents the mission itself as if you were watching it live in front of your television screen back in 1969 but instead of grainy black-and-white footage it’s show in shocking clarity. There’s no narrator; it’s just Mission Control at NASA and the astronauts.


What I like most about Apollo 11 is how much the documentary takes you on a journey with the astronauts. Oftentimes there’s a timer on the screen, counting down to whatever the next big milestone is, such as the shuttle launch or docking with one of the modules. It builds this tension because not only do you hear Mission Control counting down to whatever next big moment is about to happen but you physically see the numbers tick down on screen. Other indicators like the shuttle’s velocity or altitude all appear on screens at times, further showing just how impressive the mission was. It’s one thing to see the shuttle “floating” in space. It’s another to know it’s actually traveling over 20,000mph.


All of this culminates in the film when the lunar module detaches from the shuttle and descends to the moon for its landing. On screen we see its altitude decrease next to a timer of how much fuel is left. Tensions rise as Armstrong pilots the craft down as the fuel gauge gets lower and lower. Even though we all know the outcome, you still wonder if they’re going to successfully land before fuel runs out. It’s an absolutely perfect sequence and the best Apollo 11 has to offer.


Apollo 11 is a masterful documentary about the first landing on the moon. It’s the OG space movie, and I kept thinking back to films like Interstellar, First Man, and others thinking, “so this is where they got the idea to do such and such.” It’s amazing to watch, not just for the spectacular visuals of the past but also because it shows just how truly impressive the mission was. The fact that we were able to launch a rocket into space, land it on a rock 238,900 miles away, and then return home without anything major going wrong showcases what humanity is capable of when we collectively come together to achieve a goal. Apollo 11 celebrates this massive achievement in the best way possible.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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