ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – R – The Right Stuff (1983)

Director: Philip Kaufman

Writer: Philip Kaufman (Screenplay) Tom Wolfe (Book)

Starring: Sam Shepard, Scott Glen, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright

 

Plot: The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program.


Tagline – The spectacular story of America’s first astronauts

Runtime: 3 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Story, Too Long a Film

 

Story: The Right Stuff starts as America is trying to break the sound barrier and not having much success with their men crashing, they turn to Chuck Yeager (Shepard) who excels behind the stick of the plane, soon fellow pilots Gordon Cooper (Quaid) and Gus Grissom (Ward) prove they can hang with Chuck.

When Russia make it into space, the program changes with celebrity pilot John Glenn (Harris) and hot shot pilot Alan Shepard (Glenn) joining forces to take on the race to space as the men from different backgrounds try to prove they are the right men for the mission.

 

Thoughts on The Right Stuff

 

Characters – Chuck Yeager is the pilot that breaks the sound barrier for the first time, he is always going to try to beat any records that are being beaten, though he doesn’t go into the Mercury 7 program. He may well be the best of all of the pilots involved in this story. Alan Shepard is the military man through and through, he likes to take things lighter than the rest and is the first to be selected to go in the test flight. John Glenn is the celebrity pilot that is the clear candidate for the first mission into space, he has the best experience with dealing with press, he is by the books and doesn’t want to take things as lightly as the rest of the candidates. Gordon Cooper is the youngest of the candidates he has always go out his way to improve himself, even if his wife doesn’t like the idea of his job. Guy Grissom completes our main pilot group as the one who wants to use his new position to get more attention and is involved in one of the most unexplained errors o the missions. We do get to meet the wives who have to deal with the press invading their privacy through each mission and in constant worry about their husbands.

PerformancesWe have a brilliant cast here, with Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward all showing us both sides of the pilots turned astronauts as they were willing to go through the punishment and personal difficulties to become the men history will remember.

StoryThe Space Race was a story that took over America in the 60s it is easily one of the most interesting moments in modern history because of the extremes people were going to go to, to make this happen. We follow the training that the men went through, the risks that were put up to make history and the frustration of the Russians beating them over nearly accomplishment. This is easily one that will appeal to anybody who is a fan of the space race, this will give you a story you will know, but will get to enjoy unfold, if you didn’t know it, you will learn the sacrifices they took. The only problem with the story is the length of the film being over 3 hours, we don’t need the film to be that long to tell the same story.

Adventure/BiopicThe adventure behind this story comes from the real risks the men went through to become names in history, which give us the biopic side of everything too, we have the two sides working hand in hand to tell us the moment in history that changed the space race.

SettingsThe film shows us the settings which are mostly military bases and labs where the work must take place in, it is the shots from the air which show us just how heavenly space travel could be for the men involved.


Scene of the Movie –
Chuck’s new plane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long for the story it is telling.

Final ThoughtsThis is an incredible story of what these men went through, it shows us just how intense the space race was and the powerhouse performances helps, the only weakness is the length of the film.

 

Overall: Space Race fans must watch.

Rating

 

 

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Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Slow

 

Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.

 

Thoughts on Backdraft

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.

 

Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.

Rating