Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Review: A Love Letter to the 60s

Richard Linklater's new film is a rotoscope animation about a teenage boy living in the 60s and everything good about that era. Like other movies by Linklater, Apollo 10½ is beautiful, good-feeling, and well-paced. It's Linklater's love letter to his childhood and living in the 60s.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Review: A Love Letter to the 60s

Richard Linklater is one of the best directors in terms of making realistic and simple movies filled with love and passion. His latest film feature which is a rotoscope animation, Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, tells the story of a teenage boy living in the 60s with all of its ups and downs. Linklater is mostly known for its romance trilogy known as the Before Trilogy and the coming-of-age drama, Boyhood. This film is a mixture of Boyhood in terms of story and A Scanners Darkly in terms of technicality. 

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood is now available for stream on Netflix.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood | Official Trailer | Netflix

Story – The Perfect Retelling of Childhood Memories

The story of Apollo 10½ is told through the narrative of an adult, retelling his childhood memories with a mixture of fantasy. Linklater did a wonderful job of making the movie feel like grandparents telling their grandkids how wonderful it was life in their era. This is the reason why most of the time Apollo 10½ is so good and wonderful, without the darkness of the 60s. This is the reason a kid won’t understand much about the war and politics; all they care about is running fast enough so they won’t miss their favorite show in the afternoon.

Rockets and spaceships were a huge thing in the 60s due to the first time humans went to the moon.

Rockets and spaceships were a huge thing in the 60s due to the first time humans went to the moon.

Richard Linklater was born in 1960 in Texas, Huston; the city where the movie is taking place. Deducing from the great details of music, movies, and tv series of the 60s, Linklater is that grandparent telling the story to their grandchildren. The 60s were probably the best era for nerds because once in a lifetime, being a scientist was as cool as football players and musicians. Linklater adds the viewpoint of a child on serious matters like the Cold War and the Vietnam War the best as possible.

Characters and Performance – The Only Flawed Part of Apollo 10½ 

There is one issue with the story of Apollo 10½ and it is the character build of everyone in the film. So much time is spent on giving detail about the 60s and the pop culture of that era, that the movie runs out of time to pay more attention to building the other characters. The movie passes so recklessly that it’s almost too hard to remember the name of any character in Apollo 10½

A kid dreaming of himself as the first astronaut that went to the moon.

A kid dreaming of himself as the first astronaut that went to the moon.

Due to the style of the film, there is not enough room to show great performance, but even the film doesn’t give at least an opportunity for the cast of the film to show their acting abilities. Nonetheless, the cast of Apollo 10½ does what must be done. Some of the most notable voice actors in the movie are Jack Black as Adult Stanley and Zachary Levi as Kranz. Every voice is perfectly matched with their characters, but due to sticking with the logic of storytelling. But the story and the narrative are so engaging that these minor problems wouldn’t cause any disturbance in enjoying the film.

Cinematography and Sound – The 60s Colorful Music

The 60s had some of the best musicians and bands of all time including The Beatles, Johnny Cash, and The Monkees. With that amount of great artists and the influence of Jack Black, it’s almost impossible not to include great songs. But not only did the songs used in the film really capture the tone and atmosphere of the 60s but also the original scores and sound editing of Apollo 10½ are quite good too.

The 60s was the era, when everyone would gather to watch one tv series

The 60s was the era when everyone would gather to watch one tv series

When it comes to the cinematography of an animation, the director can do whatever they want and at the same time have weird and unfamiliar ties. Linklater is quite familiar with this kind of filmmaking therefore he does his best to capture the colorful aesthetics of the 60s and include some great shots just for the sake of making the film beautiful.

Pacing and Editing – The Best Part of the Film

When it comes to pacing, Apollo 10½ is genius. Even though the movie is short, but still the time passes in a blink of an eye. The movie gives so much detail about the 60s and living in that era at a fast pace, but the viewer won’t feel overwhelmed by it. Everything told in the film has a purpose and there is no useless footage, making the film a masterclass on how to select the correct material for telling a story.

The movie tries to add some scientific layers as well, but doesn't focus too much on it.

The movie tries to add some scientific layers as well but doesn’t focus too much on it.

The reason pacing of Apollo 10½ has worked is mostly due to its editing. The editing of the movie is not some miraculous technics that would be used in other films. It’s standard editing but the execution of it made it something special. It’s not the fact that Sandra Adair, the editor of the movie, invented something unique, but how she used the previous technics so well and to the point that it feels like a whole new way of editing.

Apollo 10½ is a beautiful animation in terms of story and technical achievement. The pacing and editing of Linklater's new film are pitch-perfect, making it a wonderful experience to watch. Not to mention the great use of 60s pop culture, whether it's music or tv series. Although the story could have focused a little bit more on characterizations and creating some opportunity for the actors to show their talent. It's definitely not Linklater's best work and won't be his most memorable as well.
  • Great Idea and Story
  • Flawless Pacing
  • Perfect Editing
  • Great Use of the 60s Pop Culture
  • Flawed Characterizations
  • No Room for Actors to Show Their Talent

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