Ron Howard’s red, white and blue-hued film shows an early ’70s America as interested in the moon as they are in trips to Pittsburgh. No one apart from mission control and the astronauts’ trophy wives seem to realise that Apollo 13 has launched until there is a great balls-up and the entire world becomes glued to the TV. Spliced with contemporary doom-mongering news footage, Howard treats the near-loss of three astro-lives as a triumph of the USA over adversity. The relentlessly gee-whiz patriotism becomes grating and it’s all just a little too worthy and polite to be the film it could have been: Das Boot in space. But Tom Hanks perfectly embodies white bread goodness as mission leader Jim Lovell and, while we may all know the ending, it’s a tribute to Howard’s no-frills, focused direction that the story remains undeniably gripping.