The Aeronauts review: a high-in-the-sky adventure

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Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones star in the high-flying The Aeronauts – and here’s our review.

The last time Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones were onscreen together resulted in two Oscar nominations in the ‘Best’ acting categories, with a win for Redmayne. The reunion of the pair might not be Oscar worthy this time, but the onscreen chemistry is still there. However, unlike in The Theory Of Everything, and while Redmayne’s character’s scientific mission still drives the narrative, there is no question that Jones is the hero here.

The Aeronauts is inspired by the astonishing true story of meteorologist and astrologer James Glaisher (Redmayne) and the aeronaut Henry Coxwell, who ascended to unexplored new heights to obtain the data to produce the first scientific weather forecast. For reasons unknown, the role of Coxwell has been replaced with the fictional character of Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) – a strange choice, but welcome when it results in the type of woman that is Jones’s Amelia.

Grief-stricken yet strongwilled, feisty, talented and assertive, Amelia is the type of nuanced female that is rarely seen in cinema, particularly in the action-adventure genre. Equally headstrong, Glaisher is a man of science whose ambition to fulfil his father’s dream to dance among the stars has turned into obsession. He is a man of science, she is impulsive. He wants to spend his time checking equipment and recording readings via pigeons(!), she wants to spend her time absorbing the world in the clouds – the perfect set-up for an inevitable conflict which, thankfully, never veers into romantic territory.

The constant dilemma our leads face is whether to stop or to keep going, and the film suffers from a similar issue due the use of flashbacks as a storytelling device, taking the audience away from the expedition and the rat-a-tat-tat dialogue between the pair. Unfortunately, this also means it distracts from the beautiful vistas created through a combination of George Steel’s striking cinematography and David Hindle and Christian Huband’s production design – and their realisation of some magical, and quite frankly anxiety-inducing action set pieces. A special mention goes to stunt-dog and mini-aeronaut, Posy.

This is an adventure film in the most traditional sense of the word, with visuals that lend themselves to that of an old-fashioned children’s storybook – all the more astonishing given that something that feels so fantastical can be based in reality.

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