The movie I have in mind is one of the two great movies made about man's greatest technological adventure. Indeed, I think they're the only historical dramas based on the space program, which hasn't spawned much pure fiction either. Sure, there are lots of science fiction pieces set far in the future, but only a few set in the near future (such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, which of course is no longer the near future and turned out to be wildly optimistic as to our progress in that time).
Now, I'll be the first to confess my taste in movies is somewhere just north of middle-brow. I'll watch a lot of movies as a group, but left to my own devices I'll generally pick movies with spectacular cinematography, or at least that's what I remember. Ask me about Thelma & Louise, and I'll remember wanting to leap in a car to go see those amazing western vistas. I loved Ratatouille on many levels, but they could have really gotten me with a travel agency at the exit line. I do also like movies based on books I liked; I finally got to see the new version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy yesterday. So take a movie based on a favorite book with spectacular vistas and an opportunity to envision myself in place of some the characters, and you have a sure winner.
Despite being nominated in major categories, it pickup up only a bunch of technical Oscars in 1984. Not to knock them; I'm a relative-by-marriage to someone with a technical Oscar (Logan's Run, 1977). But to lose out to run-of-the-mill tear jerker (though admittedly, Jack Nicholson playing a fictional astronaut might have been a match for Sam Shepard as real test pilot)? And Amadeus was fun, but was the cinematography really as good?
Indeed, while the movie got generally good reviews, it fared poorly at the box office. Worse, it seems to expose many persons' inattention to detail. Roger Ebert gives a great review, but doesn't seem to realize that it would be impossible to have the 1964 Democratic Convention before Gordo Cooper's 1963 Mercury flight, Worse, when the Oscar-winning soundtrack was finally released in partial form as an absurd limited release (without eBay, I'd never have snagged it) the liner notes can't keep straight which flight "Sunrise in Space" is found in.
Of course, it isn't perfect (what movie is?). The comic elements are often a bit too broad, perhaps in part due to picking some much too talented comic actors (Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer) in some key bit parts. Various critics, particularly astronauts, have picked at various historical inaccuracies or the movie coming down hard on Gus Grissom for the loss of his capsule. Author Tom Wolfe hated the adaptation of his work. Original screenwriter William Goldman left the project after it was clear his vision and that of director Phillip Kaufmann's was completely different (Goldman's two memoirs on screenwriting are a treat for anyone who goes to the movies).
But, in any case, it is a worthy movie of a Blu-Ray disc, considering all the dreck that gets that treatment. Sure, it would be nice to have the F-104 in the movie digitally upgraded to the NF-104 it claims to be. I'm surprised Tom Hanks hasn't followed through with a desire to turn the book into a mini-series. It would be great if Kaufmann could get his take on Challenger actually funded. But for now, all I'm asking is this: Launch a Blu-Ray, and thereby do right by The Right Stuff.