REVIEW: Execution issues ground ‘The Aeronauts’

A daring adventure through the skies is on display in “The Aeronauts,” yet the film as a whole never really takes off.

The picture is a rather loose telling of James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne), a scientist who took to the skies to obtain a better grasp on how the weather works. In the movie, Glaisher is joined by a hot air balloon pilot, Amelia (Felicity Jones), who agreed to help him reach new heights to advance meteorology.

Their work is dangerous, though, as they come in contact with harsh elements with very little protection.

On top of having its share of historical inaccuracies, with the character Amelia not having existed, “The Aeronauts” is let down by its overall storytelling. The movie constantly interrupts the duo’s adventure in the skies with flashbacks of earlier points in their life.

By doing so, the movie fleshes out pieces of the characters’ backgrounds, featuring the loss of Amelia’s husband and James’ relationship with his father. This could have actually worked in less doses, but the movie just shoves in too much.

Courtesy Mandeville Films, FilmNation Entertainment, Entertainment One and Amazon Studios.

In taking the audience back to these rather dull flashbacks, the movie’s adventure not only runs out of steam, but there’s also less screen time for the relationship between the main duo to develop.

James and Amelia approach the journey into the sky in different ways, but have to ultimately work together. There’s certainly a partnership that is created here, but it doesn’t hold much weight since its time has been stripped away.

To give some credit to the movie, though, it does help to have an Oscar winner and Academy Award nominee in the line up. Both Jones and Redmayne are capable performers and they elevate the movie just enough. There are a few emotional character sequences here and both lead performers are convincing in their parts. The casting certainly wasn’t the issue.

Additionally, there are some truly thrilling moments featured. At times, the effects falter just a bit, but there are some really good looking scenes, too. The highlight is a moment where Amelia has to climb to the top of the balloon.

“The Aeronauts” is bailed out in a sense by two fine lead performers and some thrilling sequences. But the rest of the execution here is mostly off. The film doesn’t offer enough in its narrative to be a truly compelling tale of scientific advancement, especially since the audience never gets to see the characters learn about a major meteorological discovery. 2.5 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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