Mr. Movie

'In the Shadow of the Moon' sheds light on moon race

First, my apology to the Battelle Film Club. I forgot to include a review of In the Shadow of the Moon in my Tri-City Herald column this week. I got so wrapped up in Iron Man 2 that I just forgot.

Doubling the problem is that your offering this week — Friday, May 7th at the Battelle Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. — is a great documentary from 2007.

On May 5, 1961, I sat in my friend Ron Cramer’s living room in Pasco and watched news coverage of Alan Shepard’s first American space flight. Twenty days later on May 25, in my own living room, I watched President John Kennedy challenge this nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

We did.

Kennedy’s passion captured the imagination of kids growing up on rumors of flying saucers and that loved a budding science-fiction movie industry.

In 1966, Gene Roddenberry took sci-fi to Main Street America and launched Star Trek on TV. He called space “the final frontier.” We were in love with space. And the whole world watched the then Soviet Union — now Russia and other countries — and the United States race to the moon.

It wasn’t even close. On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 proved Roddenberry right and billions of Earthlings caught the jaw-dropping moment when Neil Armstrong’s foot became the first to touch another planet.

Between 1968 and 1972, 24 men flew to the Moon. Their exploits have been the subject of dozens of movies and documentaries. None have been better than director/producer Ron Howard’s In the Shadow of the Moon.

This exceptional documentary shows you the thoughts and stories of men mystified by their own deeds and the speed with which we progressed into space. Most of you don’t realize the fathers and mothers of these astronauts were alive when the Wright brothers first mastered flight.

Director David Sington combines narration with stunning visuals of space flight and the moon. The images painted from the memories of these brave, funny, and insightful men do the rest. You are everything but transported there.

Even in an age where scientists have the capability of seeing to what seems to be the edge of infinity, their accomplishments — so nicely laid out in this brilliant movie — boggle the mind.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It plays Friday, May 7 at 8 p.m. at the Battelle Auditorium.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.