If you were alive during that time, do you remember the launch of Apollo 11? I wasn’t, but I’ve seen a film through the eyes of a kid who did. The excitement, the hope, it’s all there in the eyes of Stan, the 10-year old kid who dreams about being brought in by NASA to go to the Moon, in a module aptly titled Apollo 10 1/2. Milo Coy plays the younger version of Stan, and Jack Black plays our narrator, who’s the older Stan.
Everything is good about this film. The pacing, the story, the animation. I’m not the biggest fan of all of Richard Linklater‘s films, but DAMN, does he hit the mark on this one. I’m a bit disappointed that this ended up on Netflix, but I see why (wouldn’t have had a box office, no matter how much it deserved that). Apollo 10 1/2 doesn’t shy away from taking on a lot of childish perspectives to life, which is refreshing. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the busy stuff in life, we forget what it’s like to let go of it all.
I have very few bad things to say about this film. The score faults at one or two moments in the film but other than that…..I can’t think of one bad thing to say. The film is just MARVELOUS. Maybe slightly faulty animation in 2-3 shots, I guess, but other than that…..nothing. Apollo 10 1/2 doesn’t have an outstanding issue, and it’s tailored for…..well, all audiences. This is a film that can be enjoyed by kids of the 60s, while also be loved by modern day children, and millenials.
Awards contender? Absolutely. Best Animated Feature nominee at the 95th Oscars? Absolutely. Winner? Hard to say just yet, as we haven’t seen the full slate of animated films to release, but so far, I’d say it has a very strong chance. It’s an animated film, so we won’t see the same level of recognition as live-action properties, but I still would give Richard Linklater a win for Best Director, the only other director so far would be Matt Reeves.
At any film awards, really, it’ll have a strong chance. Expect this film to receive BAFTA and Critics Choice nominations, as well as possibly Golden Globes (we don’t cover that though). Winning for Best Animated Film in all of those categories is possible, and dare I say, possibly a nomination for Best Leading Actor? One can hope, even though it’s an animated film.
Great, let’s hop right in. First, the story. Amazing. Pure awesomeness. The movie starts, and we delve right into the shoes of a 10-year old boy who’s grown up in the 60s in, you guessed it, Houston. Stan has a father who works at Mission Control for NASA (a paper pusher), and is therefore naturally oriented towards space. From there, it all branches organically.
We see Stan playing kickball in fourth-grade PE, and suddenly, two government agents show up and take Stan into a dark room. They tell him that NASA accidentally built the lunar module too small, so they need Stan to go up and test the module on the Moon. This is, of course, a fiction of Stan’s mind while watching the coverage of Apollo 11, but it serves to show how big the imaginations were of kids back in the day.
The directing is another huge positive for the film and Netflix. Richard Linklater has done it again with superb craft and wit. The five-time Oscar nominee will earn a sixth nomination, and perhaps his first win. From the opening sequence of 60s TVs with the Netflix logo, to the closing credits on the background of the moon, it’s fantastic work. One particular shot I love is when Stan jumps onto the Moon of the lunar module. The pure brilliance of that shot is…incredible, and you’ll see why.
The animation was another high point of the film. The art of storytelling in animated format has expanded so greatly that we’re now able to use facial expressions intricately and legimiately. In this film especially, it has become so much easier and clearer to use them. For instance, if Sam was feeling worried, we wouldn’t need to put a frown on his face like in the past. Now, we can use live-action techniques and just change the coloring of the cheeks and some expressions. Groundbreaking technology.
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is just what we need right now. It’s a perfect reminder to just lay back and enjoy life. It’s about as close to perfect as you can get for an animated feature film, and even if it would’ve been better as a theatrical release, we still get to enjoy it at home. The film will release on Netflix on April 1, and I highly recommend that you check it out.
Overall Grade: A+