Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition Review
For my review of the film itself, check out the Region Two review here. This review will focus on the differences between that release and the Region One set.
The set consists of two disks, presented in an amaray case protected by a cardboard sleeve. The menus and extras content are virtually identical to the R2 release, with only the Production Notes and IMAX cut of the film unique to this R1 issue. To make room for the latter, the documentary Lost Moon, which is on Disk Two of the R2, is found on Disk One here. One extra we could have done without is a trailer for Ron Howard's new film, Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe - not necessarily a bad thing in itself but annoying in that it is the first thing that plays on putting either disk in.
Unsurprisingly given they use the same new print, there is little to choose from between the two regions' picture. The R1 has a bit more noticeable grain at times, but as can be seen from these two examples, it's hard to pick a winner in terms of quality. There is a little disparity in lighting: in this first example, the R1 image is noticeably darker than the R2, but in the second below, R2's is the darker.
The big disappointment as far as the audio tracks go is that the superb DTS track is included only on the IMAX version, the regular theatrical cut only getting the 5.1 dub. While this is more than acceptable, it's not nearly as good as the DTS, and this definitely counts against the R1 as the R2 includes both tracks on the main feature.
In regards to other languages, the R1 comes with a far more sensible selection of English, French and Spanish, as opposed to the R2's English and Hungarian. The R2 has a much bigger range of subtitles but again misses out on what you feel should be the standard French and Spanish options, which is what the R1 comes with, as well as (obviously) English.
There are two extras unique to the R1 set. The first are a set of brief Production Notes, which fly through various aspects of the film such as Howard’s demand for utmost authenticity and the filming in genuine weightless conditions. There's nothing in them that isn't covered elsewhere but I suppose if you wanted a short summary of the making of the film they fit the bill.
The second is the curious addition of the IMAX version of the film. This comes on the second disk and is twenty-four minutes shorter than the theatrical cut. Most of the missing scenes are character moments: for example, we lose Haise's vomiting after take off. The picture is strikingly different: because of the way the IMAX process enhances the prints, we get a different aspect ratio (1.66) which shows more of the image (the movie was the first regular film to be converted for IMAX presentation). Compare the above image to the IMAX version:
As you would expect, this IMAX print is a mite better than the regular, a little clearer and brighter. However, the odd edge enhancement is more noticeable here as are the very occasional artefacts - minor problems that don't detract from the viewing experience one bit but are still there if you look for them.
In terms of which is the superior version, I find the IMAX cut the lesser of the two. The loss of nearly half an hour speeds the film up no end which is to its detriment: the real incident lasted a week and the original film managed to get the feel of that length of time without being too long - here, it's just a bit too pacey for my liking. It comes across as a surprisingly different feeling film but in the end is not the better for it. I've no doubt it looks stunning on the big screen, but with that factor taken away on DVD there's very little, other than the picture quality and DTS, to justify its inclusion on the disk.
Coming down to fundamentals, there's very little difference between the two regions. The big plus in the Region Two's favour is having the DTS track on the main cut of the film, with the fact it's only available on the IMAX version here seeming to be a reason to explain that extra's otherwise superfluous appearance on the set. Some people will claim that the IMAX cut is the superior but I disagree and, coupled with the annoyance of the Cinderella Man trailer on both disks, there's little here to warrant making the effort to import.