Friday, December 6, 2019

The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is equal parts celebration of dreamers, disaster movie, grand adventure, romantic comedy, overcoming fears and past mistakes, and scientific exploration. Not surprisingly, this proves to be a few too many balls for writer/director Tom Harper to keep aloft while attempting to juggle the various aspects of the script (which could have been streamlined quite a bit) and still provide a singular, if historically inaccurate, vision of James Glaisher story.

Based loosely on real events, Eddie Redmayne stars as scientist James Glaisher who was obsessed with proving his meteorological theories. Taking the place of the actual balloon pilots who took the scientist high enough to shatter the world record, Felicity Jones stars as the fictional Amelia Wren on-hand to both fly the hot air balloon and offer some spectacle to the crowd to increase interest. An amalgamation of multiple balloonists, the fictitious Wren allows for the re-teaming of of Redmayne and Jones (who previously starred together in The Theory of Everything) providing some nice moments between the pair high above the clouds (and also some questionable drama stumbling around on Earth).

And that's really where the troubles of The Aeronauts lie. When the film stays focused on the pair in the balloon, their squabbles, their discoveries, and their accomplishments, The Aeronauts works best, and does capture a bit of movie magic on-screen (even if some of the heroics push the limits of believably). The views high above the Earth are often breathtaking both for our characters and the audience. When it looks back on the events that took place from far-less-lofty heights which led the pair to lifting off together in the balloon (something it does far, far too often) things get a bit dicier and random bits of drama, cliche, and romantic comedies are all pulled to fill in each character's past. There's also the trouble of how much the script belittles Glaisher and his theories early on (suggesting, despite his standing at the time, he was largely viewed as a laughingstock by his fellow scientists in the organizations he helped found). This may help fuel his obsession on-screen but also leads to unintentionally comedic and simplistically ridiculous outcomes.

No comments: