The Aeronauts Movie Review
When The Aeronauts takes to the sky, it flies. When on the ground, it deflates hard.
Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star as a pilot and scientist, respectively, who seek new heights in a hot air balloon in the late 1800s. The problem: the science experiments Eddie Redmayne wants to conduct are about as interesting as… well, Eddie Redmayne in a movie about hot air balloons.
From Tom Harper, the director who just recently brought us the excellent Wild Rose, The Aeronauts attempts to be both an action-adventure movie and a drama—and sadly, he only succeeds at one of those two things. The drama, which has Redmayne trying to convince stodgy English scientists that he is onto something (apparently, all English scientists were stodgy back in the day, according to just about every movie ever produced on the subject), is a complete bore, so much so that I actively and involuntarily tuned out during most of these scenes.
It’s a real shame, because the action in the skies is a blast. The Aeronauts is certainly not for the faint of heart, or at least those who are afraid of heights, as the movie features multiple sequences with the two leads being tossed around by storms and occasionally discarded from their balloon basket altogether. Jones, the more dynamic of the two, gets the majority of the action—she is up to the task, especially in a surprisingly brutal scene that has her climbing the outside of the balloon at 35,000 feet in attempt to rescue them both.
It’s a sequence that makes you hold your breath, and not every movie can boast such a feat.
But is that enough?
The Aeronauts isn’t high quality entertainment, but when Jones and Redmayne are soaring, so does the movie. Sadly, the rest of the movie sends them, and us, plunging back to reality: that this is really only half-good. And half-good isn’t enough.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.