Forget Interstellar, This $355 million Film is the Most Accurate Sci-Fi Ever Made

Forget Interstellar, This $355 million Film is the Most Accurate Sci-Fi Ever Made
Image credit: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

The movie that popularized the iconic phrase 'Houston, we have a problem.'


  • Science fiction is rarely truly 'scientific'.
  • But one space drama holds a special place among the genre's representatives, because even the astronauts themselves appreciated its scientific accuracy.
  • This is Ron Howard's Apollo 13, based on the memoirs of astronaut Jim Lovell.

Science fiction is as vague an umbrella term as, say, fantasy or drama. What is science fiction? The 'scientific' side of the genre is by no means always acknowledged, as fiction often takes a more philosophical view of humanity's future, or does not shy away from pure flights of fancy, such as Star Wars or Dune, which can be characterized more as space fantasy than science fiction.

But despite the ambiguity of the term, the primary purpose of science fiction is to present quite down-to-earth ideas, to comment not only on a possible future, but also on our present. And so, both literature and cinema have sci-fi examples that are truly faithful to their 'scientific' half. Speaking specifically of film, we can cite Stanley Kubrick's iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Christopher Nollan's Interstellar or Ridley Scott 's The Martian.

Still, of all the movies, Apollo 13 holds a special place. Yes, technically it's not really a sci-fi movie, more of a science space drama with fictional elements. However, for those who appreciate the above examples, this 1995 movie should definitely be an ultimate pick to watch.

The Story of the Failed, Yet Heroic Flight to the Moon

Aside from the fact that Apollo 13 is actually a dramatized documentary that almost exactly recreates the dangerous events of the April 1970 space mission, the film was produced by some very big names in Hollywood.

The film was directed by Ron Howard (Willow, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) and written by William Broyles Jr. (Cast Away, Unfaithful, The Polar Express) and Al Reinert (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, For All Mankind). In particular, the film's all-star cast excelled in delivering top-notch performances and masterfully recreating the experiences of real people: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris.

Based on the non-fiction book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, written by real-life astronaut Jim Lovell and co-written by journalist Jeffrey Kluge, the story, as the title suggests, is about the crew of the ill-fated mission to the moon, their valiant attempts to survive against the odds, and the tireless work of NASA ground personnel who did everything possible to bring the astronauts back to Earth.

With a budget of $52 million, the film was a colossal commercial success upon its release, grossing $355.2 million at the worldwide box office. The film delighted critics and audiences alike but was also appreciated by those who value scientific and historical accuracy.

'Apollo 13 tells the story of an explosion that actually happened on the way to the moon. Really good movie. Maybe the most realistic of all the space movies,' former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said in 2020.

Where to Watch Apollo 13

Unfortunately, for US viewers, the movie is only available for purchase or rental. You can do this on most major platforms, including Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu, DirecTV, Microsoft, YouTube and Google Play. HD quality rentals cost $3.99 (Apple, Amazon and Vudu offer the movie in 4K). The same options are available for purchase, which will cost $14.99.

UK residents will only be able to buy or rent the movie through their respective services as well.

Other countries are a little more fortunate. For example, for Australian residents, Apollo 13 is available for streaming in addition to the same rental and purchase options. This can be done on services such as Foxtel Now, Stan or Prime with a subscription to Paramount+. Residents of Canada can also stream the movie via Prime or Crave.

Source: Vanity Fair.