Soaring High into the Clouds
This entertaining film might be considered a “trifle” among the mighty, but don’t dismiss it. The Aeronauts is actually a tribute to science and some of the pioneers who came before us to make our lives better.
Eddie Redmayne plays meteorologist James Glaisher in 1862 London. He’s a young man of passion and ambition who wants to prove to the world that miracles can be found in the air above us. Redmayne won an Oscar® for the film The Theory of Everything , in which he played theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. He was becoming a brilliant scientist who studied Black Holes and the Big Bang theory of creation. Redmayne has had great luck playing scientists, it seems.
In a series of flash-backs we see young Glaisher unconvincing in his bid to the more affluent gentlemen in the scientist’s club to fund his balloon. Nonsense, they think! He’s nuts! A renegade! Based on a true story of real scientists, Glaisher finally gets somebody to build the balloon he needs to conduct his experiments. He has an able assistant John, played by sparkly-eyed Himesh Patel (Yesterday) with his swarthy good looks. But John is not a pilot, and that's what is needed to guide the balloon through the skies.
In a spectacular film entrance, Felicity Jones -- playing Amelia Wren -- arrives to great fan-fare at the carnival-like atmosphere of the balloon take-off. She had previous experience piloting the experimental balloon of her husband (Vincent Perez) who was unfortunately killed during his experiment. Now the widow Wren arrives like a movie star to help out James.
Off they go to achieve heights never experienced by man or woman. James, an all business no-nonsense scientist, needs to records his instruments as they go higher and higher into the clouds. Suspense ensues because the balloon might lose gas, go too high, rise to freezing temperatures (which puts the two devoted nerds into danger) or plunge to the ground. These dilemmas add some pretty exciting scenes way up at 36,000 feet. In one hair-raising event, Ameila must climb to the top of the ice-coated balloon to adjust a valve.
In what seem like weather-inappropriate attire, neither of them wears gloves to protect from frost-bite, and their clothes look fashionable—and flimsy enough-- to wear on Miami Beach.
The aerial scenes come across as amazingly beautiful, and views of puffy clouds above 30,000 look like cotton-candy. Nothing much of depth here about the characters, and both Jones and Redmayne are on screen throughout almost the entire picture. Amelia does have a crabby sister, played by actress Phoebe Fox, and there is a nod to veteran actor Tom Courtenay (The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, 1962) as Glaisher’s demented father in a cameo.
The Aeronauts a light, fluffy movie with beautiful cinematography that won’t tax your nerves.
(Released by Amazon Studios/ Mandeville Films and rated "PG-13" for some peril and thematic elements.)
Opening in theaters on 12/06/2019 and available on Amazon Prime on 12/20/19.