October Sky soars. It is quintessential American
entertainment. Every element of this wonderful film is delivered
with impeccable taste and skill. The
opening montage defining the world of October Sky
is brilliant in capturing the time, place and people. The images are
reminiscent of Thomas Hart Bentonís magnificent murals depicting
aspects of America. Together with the inspirational Americana score
by Mark Isham, perhaps the best work this fine screen composer has
done, the photography by Fred Murphy provides director Joe Johnston
with fuel to drive this worthy movie through its paces.
Rockets away! ©Universal
October Sky is the uplifting
story of four boys from a
West Virginia coal-mining town inspired to build a rocket and make it work. Sputnik, the Russian
satellite that launched the space race, is the catalyst. There is
some remarkable father and son scripting, the production details
smell of coal dust and desperation. Don't miss it. It's a great
family film filled with the right kind of messages. And it's all
based on a true story!
lead, Jake Gyllenhaal, is wonderful and appealing as Homer Hickam.
Gyllenhaal, the son of director John Gyllenhaal (Waterland)
grew up in a movie family. The eighteen year old knows his way
around a movie set. Chris Cooper smokes as his Dad. The scenes
between father and son are insightfully scripted, but itís the
actors pulling the performances from each other that make the
dynamic work to perfection. All the young men are fine. In addition,
Laura Dern provides some soulful inspiration for the boys as their
high school teacher and Natalie Canerday is nothing short of perfect
as Elsie Hickam.
Joe Johnston who
Rocketeer, Honey I Shrunk the
Kids and Jumanji finds the perfect unexpectedly finds the perfect story for his talents.
Johnstonís montage compilations are joyful and heís incredibly
to the actors in their most intimate moments. Lewis Collickís
previous writing credits fail to hint at his ability to produce such
a wonderful adaptation of Homer Hickamís biography "Rocket
Boys." The cinematography by Fred Murphy is consistently
appealing. His camera angles match the feeling of power in the
montage work giving them a force of their own, yet blending
perfectly with the great Isham score.
October Sky is a glorious DVD. The sharp
transfer replicates the grand photography in all its majestic
beauty. The colors are cool and accurate. You can feel the coal dust
in the air. The contrast ratios are excellent. Scenes in the coal
pits are well lit and vary nicely with Hickamís home interiors.
The music is simply joyful and inspiring as recorded in Dolby
Digital 5:1 surround. The sonic drafts of the rocket launchings are
powerful and the dialog is incisively clear. The
DVD package lists a feature commentary by director Joe Johnston.
Unfortunately, this is an error. It would have been terrific to tour
October Sky with its director. The ďSpotlight on LocationĒ short
is a typically strong effort from the Universal DVD team.