In Brief: A semi-true to life hot air balloon trip that never really inflates enough to get off the ground.
Other than a dentist few professions are as maligned as that of the weather forecaster. Even when they’re accurate we often claim they aren’t, and that they don’t know a thing. This is especially true of our friends that give us forecasts on local TV.
The Aeronauts is a movie about one of the world’s first weathermen. He is James Glaisher, a British meteorologist who — on September 5, 1862 — set a world flight record in a hot air balloon. And what could a hot air balloon trip possibly have to do with weather?
Apparently, Glaisher and his co-pilot rose over 36,000 feet to measure weather stuff. You know, temperatures, humidity, barometric pressure and other things. Being that high in the atmosphere without oxygen tanks, masks and other paraphernalia is dangerous.
The movie The Aeronauts is the story of his historic flight. Kind of. In the film, Glaisher’s co-pilot for that flight is the lovely young widow and hot air ace Amelia Wren. She wasn’t the co-pilot. In fact, Wren is made-up. She’s a fabrication to give Glaisher a love interest.
And apparently to do homage to all the women who helped pioneer early flight.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star. Last time they were paired Redmayne won an Oscar and Golden Globe for playing scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and she got nominated for her acting by both groups and others.
Jones didn’t win.
As proved in that movie, they are very good together and both are very good at their craft. All through the flight Redmayne is the perfectly gentleman and she’s also perfectly all business. There are hints here and there of some romantic chemistry.
What lets them down is a horrible screenplay about going up. That’s a horrible play on words but it’s true. They have nothing to do but banter a bit and get buffeted around by the weather and — eventually — the freezing cold. That means she, as the experienced pilot, has to save them via herculean efforts that are as silly and empty as a real life balloon once it lands back on Earth.
The effects aren’t all that dazzling either though it must’ve been fun for the actors to do the film since they obviously spent at least some time floating above the clouds in real life. Unfortunately, it’s not all that much fun for you.
Director: Tom Harper
Stars: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Tom Courtney, Phoebe Fox
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. A little more hot air would have helped this one. Love the actors and the acting but this movie just has nowhere to go and that includes up. Rate it a 2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.