Tony's Take

THE AERONAUTS review

Reach for the Open Sky

How did weather forecasting get its start?  Well, 2019’s “The Aeronauts” gives us a glimpse at forecasting’s birth as well as the remarkable, courageous scientists that paved the path for the luxuries we enjoy today.  The film opens as James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) are about to set sail in a weather balloon high up-into the sky; on a journey that will, hopefully, be filled with discovery of crucial information and setting the record for the highest altitude reached by either man or woman.  Though warned about an approaching, storm-looking cloud by his good friend John Trew (Himesh Patel), he averts cancelling the takeoff and the two are whisked away from the ground towards the Heavens.  After a brief time, James begins discovering different atmospheric temperature readings and their fluctuations based on altitude.  Shortly thereafter, a storm sends them through a deadly, tumultuous whirlwind which they barely survive, before ascending above the clouds.  The rest of the film follows their journey and the inner battles each of them are holding inside; as we quickly learn not all is as it appears.

“The Aeronuats”, the latest film costarring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, follows a duo’s daring attempt at making history.  The film is carried by Jones’ impeccable, outstanding portrayal of a tortured woman seeking how to carry on with her life.  Her frequent on-screen partner, Redmayne is more of his usual nervous, charming character, still strong, but leaving the heavy lifting for Jones.  I was so thrilled to see her have the lead and to be put through so much anguish and difficult circumstances; I have been a huge fan of hers for years and I hope this will only open more doors for her!  In my opinion, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was only as successful due to her charismatic, fiery performance as Jyn Erso.  The film relies so heavily on Jones and Redmayne and they do not disappoint. As we have seen before, the two share a palpable, authentic chemistry that is impossible to ignore; an absolute cinematic powerhouse duo that hasn’t been seen in years.  At the forefront of recent controversy, the film entirely rewrites history, as Amelia Rennes is completely fictionalized.  While it doesn’t take away from the film, one can only imagine how angry and frustrated the family of Glaisher’s partner must be.

The film’s editing is superbly well-done, as “The Aeronauts” forgoes traditional storytelling methods.  Piece-by-piece, the lives and hardships of our main characters are introduced, leading to a much greater understanding and compassion for them.  As you would expect, the majority of the film takes place in a box hovering thousands of feet about Earth and gets a little repetitive battling the elements and having their own “Apollo 13” issues.  However, it is truly remarkable that the film leaves you caring for the two protagonists so much; you feel their struggles, their heartbreak, and their fear.  There is no way “The Aeronauts” would work if not for Jones and Redmayne.  That’s not a slight, if anything it’s a compliment to the filmmaker for going out and securing his two leads.  At 100 minutes, the film is brisk and to-the-point without feeling rushed.  While beautifully shot, at times the special effects leave you feeling as if the money was clearly spent elsewhere.

Powered by Jones and supported by Redmayne, “The Aeronauts” is entertaining enough but leaves more to be desired.

 3/5

THE AERONAUTS is rated PG-13 for some peril and thematic elements, in select theaters DECEMBER 6TH!