Directed by: Tom Harper
Written by: Jack Thorne
Starring: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Tom Courtney, Rebecca Front, Robert Glenister
Basic scientific knowledge like weather forecasts have become commonplace and can even be checked on cellular devices. We complain if it calls for inches of snow only to get a light dusting, but we never stop and think about what goes into gathering that information or what it took to get that ball rolling.
With aspirations to introduce the world to weather forecasting, James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) constantly gets rejected by the scientific community. With discouragement from colleagues and family members, he asks for support from known hot air balloon pilot, Amelia (Felicity Jones) to guide him up in the air. The two embark on a journey to reach higher than any human ever has in the sky.
Any story that centers on a hot air balloon instantly gets my attention every time, as it focuses on a form of transportation used more so for recreation now. In the past, these balloons found use in helping individuals set goals like the ones explored in this film. Everything that occurs on the balloon produces the best moments of the feature. It puts the two lead characters in a confined space needing to survive against the elements and each other. However, the narrative works with moments on the balloon along with flashback sequences of events leading up to their expedition. While those flashbacks provided some context, the editing of the film stops the momentum of the balloon scenes. Let’s be real, anyone who turns on this film wants to see some epic balloon madness, which the film provides. The flashback sequences serve to round out the characters but it felt unnecessary when the perfect opportunity to provide that presented itself with the two characters on the balloon. Unlike Around the World in 80 Days, the events on the balloon in The Aeronauts transpire in less than a day. The most thrilling aspects of the film occurred on the balloon, which made the moments explaining these characters rather boring because I wanted the story to just get back up in the air.
This film sees the reunification of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as a duo since their last partnership in The Theory of Everything, which landed each an Academy Award nomination and a victory for Redmayne. Their chemistry continues to be strong, but this time around Felicity Jones does all of the heavy lifting. Her character, Amelia, has a more interesting backstory and purpose for being hesitant of being on the balloon. She takes her role as a pilot of hot air balloons as a profession, but also as a form of entertainment for her patrons. Her character has the most do on the balloon, seeing as she leads as the pilot. It provides incredible sequences like having to climb the outside of the balloon and that would not do well for anyone afraid of heights. Amelia constantly has to battle with James about the realities of being that high in the air and the effects it will have on the body physically and mentally. Redmayne plays the role of a scientist just there for the ride trying to complete his scientific discoveries and mostly sits by while Jones does all of the death-defying work to keep the balloon up.
Along with the actor reunification, the special effects with the balloon stand out. It puts you up in the air with them and displays how tight the spacing of the basket holding them. It captures the marvel of this journey and how reaching different cloud layers and altitude provides their own issues for these two to figure out. Everything on the balloon serves a vital purpose to their expedition and the film shows the importance of weight and how it impacts being able to land. Whenever the film focuses on this aspect, it proves to be a very well-done production, but they needed to pad it out with a backstory that did not add much to the adventure. Overall, a solid flick that provides the thrills and can be thrown on for a good time.