News Tom Hanks in the 2000 film Castaway

In a story similar to the plot of the film Castaway starring Tom Hanks, Jose Ivan was found on the atoll having floated 8,000 miles from Mexico

How to gatecrash

The Knack: Dennis Pennis invites you to party the night away, with not an invite to your name

Every dog will have his day

The practical, sloppy shoes that always remind you of grandad are making a comeback in bold, new hues


Apollo 13 (PG). The sole redeeming feature of this disastrous disaster movie was a gut-quaking Dolby-soundtrack launch sequence, which was loud enough to shake the popcorn from your hands. On the small screen, the picture is robbed even of that fleeting pleasure. The director Ron Howard manages to take one of the most potentially terrifying episodes in the history of space travel - when a hitch left the Apollo 13 craft suspended above the Earth, and the lives of its crew (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) hanging in the balance - and turn it into a tepid TV movie. (If only it really were one: you long for the brief reprieve of a garish commercial.) Where themes of patriotism jeopardised by the struggle for survival might have surfaced, the screenwriters revert to jingoistic impulses; stoicism replaces any whiff of existentialist terror; and instead of friction between the astronauts, we get that vacuum of personality that seems to open up wherever Tom Hanks, the eunuch of modern cinema, lays his hat. In this anaesthetised atmosphere, some of the supporting cast are pleasantly jazzy on the eye and ear: Gary Sinise is compelling as the one who got away - at first aggrieved, then relieved, awkwardly so, at having been left behind. But as a director, Howard is an anti-lifeforce, a vampire; he sucks films dry of tension and opportunity. He and Hanks are perfectly matched - they make everything bland. It's not all their fault. Even on the basic technical level, Apollo 13 fails dismally (look out for an unforgivable error in the early scene where Hanks is gawping at the Moon). Hollywood, we most definitely have a problem.

A mission out of control


Here's to nerd power

APOLLO 13 Ron Howard (PG)

The film director Ron Howard is riding high on the back of Apollo 13. But where on earth is he going?

Journalists covering the Apollo space project discovered, often to their great frustration, that the humans involved in it were hard to fathom. Brave and talented people were, quite literally, reaching for the moon, but scarcely a single one of them seemed capable of explaining exactly why.

Bringing Apollo back home

Learn all about one of the space race's worst disasters - from the comfort of your PC screen.

Cinema: How Kevin Costner blew it

'Waterworld' is in big trouble, but the career of its star has been in decline for years. Quentin Curtis reports on an accident waiting to happen

Space movies: the next generation

'2001' made space travel look effortless and simple. With 'Alien' it became dirty and beset by bad industrial relations. Now 'Apollo 13' has added something new: disaster.

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Health minister John Bowis recognises gay people's needs

Gump: the movie that didn't inhale

The Oscars


The Oscars

NETWORK : `I'd just like to say thank you ...'

Phil Reeves proposes a night at the Oscars

Get ready to be beautiful

It's Oscars time: worship, adore, and haggle for the party invitation, writes Phil Reeves

FILM : An Academy of dunces

Who will walk away with the Oscars next week? In Hollywood, the bets are on. Phil Reeves considers the odds
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