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October Sky (Movie Review)

October Sky (Movie Review)

Overlooked by the Academy Awards and most of the movie viewing public, October Sky turned out to be one of the best movies of 1999. Based on the true life story of Homer Hickman, a coalminer’s son inspired to learn about rocketry following the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik, October Sky is more than just a film about rockets, it’s a film about one man overcoming the trials and tribulations that attempt to run him down. The emphasis placed on the passion of the human spirit and its ability to overcome great conflict and achieve feats of wondrous heights makes October Sky a film that is certain to enjoy an enduring legacy and a heightening in stature among critics with the passing of time…

Set in a 1950s West Virginia town, October Sky follows the life of Homer Hickman (Jake Gyllenhaal), the teenage son of a coalminer who pushes his son to follow in his footsteps. Growing up in a town where coal is king, the citizens of Homer’s world can’t fathom pursuing a career in any other field. But when Homer’s classroom is informed of the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the satellite inspires Homer to learn everything he can about rockets, satellites, and inner-orbiting spacecraft. Goaded on by their teacher Frieda Riley (Laura Dern), Homer and his friends study the various aspects of a rocket launch and begin staging the launch of their own homemade rockets. But their trial and error experiments go awry, putting the local townspeople in the path of their errant rocket launches, and they incur the wrath and disdain of a community that views them as freaks and outcasts.

As Homer’s father becomes ill from the deadly effects of coal dust, he pushes his son to support the family by entering the mine. Unable to see the bright potential of his son’s interest in rockets, John Hickman (Chris Cooper) battles Homer every step of the way as he pursues his passion. But Homer remains committed, and when he and his friends begin launching rockets from a new site outside of town, more and more people begin showing up to see the brilliant spectacle… When Homer’s hero, German rocket scientist and NASA engineer Wernher von Braun, replies to a letter Homer wrote, the path is cleared for the students to exhibit their work at the National Science Awards.

Encouraged by Miss Riley, Homer and his friends are prepared to put their entire future on the line at this one exhibition, where the prize includes fully paid scholarships to some of the top universities in America…

The inspiring tale of a boy and his friends who never give up on believing in themselves, October Sky is a feel-good movie reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. Outside of the traditional mold of action super-thriller or blood-spilling reality drama, October Sky bucks the trend of cinematic commercialism by offering its audience a more intelligent foray into the world of film and storytelling. This trend toward quality cinematography is one we can only hope will continue. Sporting a colorful cast of characters rife with conflict and passion, October Sky is a definite must-see film that you won’t want to miss…