The story is about a young man who gets inspired to build his own rocket and become a scientist after witnessing the passage of Sputnik I over the United States in October 1957. Homer Hickam lives in Coalwood, West Virginia. Coalwood is in a small town and the main activity is coal mining. John Hickham is a coal miner and he expects his two sons, Jim and Homer, to follow in his footsteps and become coal miners too. On 4 October 1957 the Russians start The Space Race by launching Sputnik I. All the town's residents are outside and witness the passing of the Russian artificial satellite over the United States.
Soon after that, Homer starts dreaming about launching rockets and he builds his first prototype. He almost blows himself up and he ruins his mother's fence but he keeps on dreaming. Homer doesn't know much about rockets and he is not a brilliant mathematician but he goes to the library and starts reading books about rocket building and he keeps on dreaming. One day, he understands that there is some other person that can help him build a better rocket and that person is the school geek and weirdo, a young man named Quentin.
Homer, Quentin, Roy Lee and O'Dell build a rudimentary rocket that manages to fly, scare half the town and almost kill some miners. Homer's father is in charge of the coal mine and he gets very angry when he finds out about the incident. He forbids his son to build and test any rockets in the town because the whole town belongs to Olga, the mining company, for which he is responsible. He throws the rocket building materials out of his basement and he tells his son to stop dreaming about rockets and to start thinking about his future as a miner.
Miss Riley is a science teacher. She notices that the boys have an interest in rocket building and she encourages them to perfect their model and to go to the science fair. She tells the boys that going and winning the science fair can get them scholarships and places into a good collage.
The boys find a place to taste their rockets but they have to walk the distance every day because the place is 8 miles away from their homes. They ask John Hickham for some building materials and he refuses to help them at first but then he gives in and helps them a little. They build a launching pad for their rockets and start testing rocket after rocket but with little success. They keep on studying and testing different types of fuel and they even steal some good steel from an old railway.
The boys ask Ike Bykovsky to help them and he does it because he is likes to help. Ike works for the mine but he works with steel and he knows how to weld. He is a Russian man and he appreciates the boys for their courage to stand up and fight against their destiny as future coal miners. One day, the whole town gathers to witness the launch of the AUK 1, the first rocket that hopefully will manage to fly.
The rocket proves to be a real success and Homer is interviewed by the local press. Unfortunately, Homer and his friends are also accused of starting a fire and arrested. The police officer tells them that they found one of their rockets near the starting place of a fire so they have to stop testing rockets or go to prison. The same night, John Hickham tries to save Ike Bykovsky from an accident and he gets himself injured. Ike dies in the accident. John can't work because of his injuries and one of his boys must step up and take his place or they risk losing their house which is owned by the company.
Homer's brother, Jim, has a football scholarship so he can't replace his father. Homer takes the job and he becomes a miner. He gives up his dream of a scholarship and he starts working in the mine. John Hickham recovers and he is very proud of his son. He keeps telling him how proud he is that he son is finally a proper man and a miner.
Homer finds out that Miss Riley has Hodgkin's lymphoma and he goes to visit her. She tells him that he cannot give up his dream and become a miner. She encourages him to go back to school and pursue his dream. Homer starts thinking about that fire that ruined their rocket lunching dream and he starts some complicated calculations that prove that their rocket couldn't have started the fire. He gathers up his friends and they start searching for the missing rocket. They find out that the fire was started by another type of rocket that came from the airport.
They get the permission to start launching again and they decide to go to the science fair. They test the last rocket and they offer John Hickham the honor to push the button and launch the rocket.
Homer goes to the science fair alone because the school can't pay for the trip for the whole team. His model is stolen during the science fair and he asks his father to allow one of his workers to build him another one. The model arrives on time and Homer and his friends win the local and the national science fair and they go to college.
Homer and his friends finish college and the get good jobs. Homer Hickam ends up working for NASA.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is a truly inspiring story especially for teenagers. It tells us all to follow our dreams, overcome our fear of the unknown and shoot for the stars.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is the one where Homer tells his father that he remains his only true hero despite him being against rocket launching and science.
Opinion about the main character:
I like Homer's ambition. I also like that he chooses to sacrifice himself and his dream just to help his family.
An inspiring story about young Homer Hickham who overcomes his circumstances to become a very successful scientist. An excellent family drama with a great young star in Jake Gyllenhaal. A must see for every family!
The review of this Movie prepared by Amy Thornton