Dates in parentheses indicate a full-review of the film in the Monitor.
APOLLO 13 - Director Ron Howard's grand retelling of the "successful failure" of what would have been America's third trip to the moon in April 1970 feels especially diminished on TV: The big scenes are really meant for a huge screen and Dolby sound. But even given that, and the fact that you know the end of this story from the beginning (the three astronauts return safely after an oxygen-tank explosion aborts their mission), this is still a great ride. Seamless editing and extraordinary special effects (some filming was done in simulated weightlessness) means you can't tell which footage is NASA's and which is Hollywood's. Tom Hanks is strong as commander Jim Lovell. (PG, MCA Universal Home Video, June 30)
- Owen Thomas
CRIMSON TIDE - In this high-stakes game of chicken, the nuclear submarine USS Alabama has been sent to chase down rebel Russian forces in the Pacific. The battle outside pales in comparison to the one raging within the sub, as the crew chooses up sides between Captain Ramsey, a battle-hardened good ol' boy, and his executive officer Hunter, a Harvard- and Annapolis-educated man who likes to play by the book. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington give strong performances as the battling commanders, both of whom are trying to do their best for their country. Solid supporting performances and dark cinematography add to the tension. (R, Hollywood Pictures Home Video, May 15)
- Yvonne Zipp
GORDY - "Babe" this isn't, though Gordy, a talking piglet, may have viewers doing a double take. In Disney's version of barnyard amusement, Gordy must save his family, lest these little piggies go to market. Along the way he befriends a girl and boy whose innocence helps them understand Gordy and help him in his mission. Entertaining performances of country music and a cameo by "Wall Street Week" host Louis Rukeyser add to the film's appeal, but viewers may prefer to wait for "Babe" to come out on video. (G, Walt Disney Home Video)
- Judy Nichols