October Sky

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Chad Estrella

Plot: What’s it about?

This film is based on a true story as it follows the lives of a group of four boys in a West Virginia coal mining town in the late 1950’s. The story is based around one boy in particular, Homer Hickman. (Jake Gyllenhal) Homer takes a strong interest into rocketry after he sees Sputnik in orbit around the Earth. Homer is joined by two friends and the class geek who turns out to be a friend of the group. The four boys make their rockets in Homer’s basement and then launch them at the nearby field, which also happens to be owned by the mining company. Homer’s father, John Hickman, (Chris Cooper) runs the coal mine and does not support his son in this “hobby” of his. He wants him to play football so he can get into college or to start working in the mine after high school.

The four boys get most of their support and help from their teacher, Miss Riley, (Laura Dern) and a few men who work for the coal mine who help the boys weld their rockets together in a machine shop. The boys move their rocket launching out to a site eight miles out side of town after a rocket accident at the coal mine when the rocket crashed landed out side his dad’s office. The boys construct themselves a launching pad and a shack to hide in so that nobody gets hurt when all of the rockets take off in every which way, if and when the rockets actually make it off of the ground. What starts out as a hobby turns into a passion for Homer. Homer learns from his teacher that he and his friends would have an excellent chance of getting a college scholarship if the boys can win the National Science Fair.

This is one of those feel good movie’s that was entertaining and well made. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the movie actually was. The acting is superb and the story gets your attention throughout the whole movie. The chemistry between Gyllenhal (Homer) and Cooper (his father) were great. You can almost see the tension between them in several scenes. You may find yourself rooting for the boys to succeed in launching their rockets (get your mind out of the gutter please) and their dreams. A must see movie and well worth owning.

Video: How does it look?

The move is a RSDL (dual layered one sided disc) that has both a 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 letterbox picture and a 1.33:1 pan & scan version. You may select the viewing of your choice by selecting it on the menu screen for the movie. The picture quality is very good. You can practically see the coal dust in the mines and I can’t get over how black the workers faces were when they left the mine to go home. You get an appreciation of the men working down there in such an awful environment. A great picture throughout the entire movie.

Audio: How does it sound?

The movie is mostly dialogue driven and there are a couple of parts when it was tough to tell what they said, but only because of the strong accents of the actors. The music was very well matched with the heart felt story line. The soundtrack was crisp and clean. The subwoofer gets some action in a couple of scenes. The surround channels come to life when a train seems to pass over your head and when the movie shifts inside the mines.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Well the only thing missing is a commentary track [Editor’s note…The packaging was mislabeled saying that there was a commentary to be included, but this was wrong. Evidently, they will be doing a repackaging to correct this error and there are no plans for a commentary]. The movie has a “Spotlight on Location” that describes how they added things to the set to get a better feel of this coal mine town in West Virginia that was vital in the 50’s but is vacant now. The town that was filmed in the movie was actually in Tennessee. There are some film highlights, a trailer and a link to the Universal Pictures web site. The usual production notes and Talent bios round out the extras.

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