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Apollo 11

Mar 9, 2019

You'll never see a better version of the real thing.

Apollo 11

Grade: A

Director: Todd Douglas Miller

Cast: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael COllins

Rating: G

Runtime: 1 hr 33 min

By: John DeSando

“I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” Neil Armstrong looking on earth from the moon.

If somehow you missed Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969 (indeed you might not have been born yet), fear not: The perfect documentary about those three real superheroes is here. The titular doc stars Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins in nail biting suspense and no explosions save rocket propulsion.

The only part not of the original footage is the original synth drones’ soundtrack by an inspired Matt Morton.  The percussive beat has pomp like that of a thriller in which the president has a fleet of black SUV’s rolling to its heart-beating energy, supporting a blockbuster that this time is for real.

Notwithstanding the deeply introspective First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, the real Armstrong comes through in this doc. As expected, he’s like the straight arrow he is alleged to be—good guy, slightly nerdy, smart, evident even with as little face time as he has here.

Maybe that’s the point: Without the sophisticated computers we have 50 years later, these astronauts and technicians work hard long hours together, no claims to glory, profit, or party loyalty. Their collaboration is worthy of any Marvel voyage; only it’s real.

New images and sounds emerge despite the decades of depicting this event in multi-media. Some NASA shots have never been seen before. Although the images may not be as spectacular as the ones we’ve grown accustomed to, they represent the constantly renewable glory of mankind at its technological best, devoid of petty ego embellishments and full of human connections.

You’ll find more dramatic renditions of this adventure, but you’ll never find 93 minutes more perfectly capturing the grandeur of science and humanity working together to realize the impossible. This right stuff is right here in a grand documentary called, very simply, Apollo 11.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com