After an accident puts her off flying for years, pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is approached by scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) to take to the skies once again. Glaisher hopes to validate the importance of weather science to his peers and to fly higher than anyone else in history. Their hot air balloon voyage sees them break records and make scientific breakthroughs, but Wren and Glaiser eventually find themselves fighting for their lives.
Since ‘The Theory of Everything’, Redmayne and Jones have made forays into big franchises (for the latter, ‘Star Wars’, and the former, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’). They’ve earned an Oscar and Oscar nomination respectively in the interim too and it’s easy to see their success sparks from their talent as actors and their respective, endearing, affable natures. They make for appealing leads and the natural chemistry they share, even just as mates, is palpable, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing them reunited on the screen. Heck, I’d watch a third movie led by them, happily.
While Wren is the colourful, performance-driven half, Glaiser is much more down-to-earth (literally), practical and cool, but like Wren, a dreamer. Other characters come and go such as Phoebe Fox as Antonia, Amelia’s sister, and Himesh Patel (‘Yesterday’) as James’ friend John. Tom Courtenay plays James’ father Arthur, but talented as they are, the supports are relatively inconsequential with Jones and Redmayne doing much of the heavy-lifting.
The visual effects of ‘The Aeronauts’ are vital to its success and in fairness, the visuals are magnificent thanks to its stunning CGI. It’s all so realistic you wouldn’t want to have a fear of heights watching the film. The storm scene is particularly well done and thrilling but aside from some standout scenes up in the air, which aside from the storm include the deadly finale where our heroes are freezing to death, director Tom Harper (‘War & Peace’, ‘Wild Rose’) offers a fairly conventional drama. One also wonders, given it’s based on a true story, how far the truth was stretched for the sake of dramatisation.
Still, there’s no doubt that ‘The Aeronauts’ is an uplifting feature (if you’ll pardon the pun), with a sense of wonder that runs throughout and as cheesy and feel-good as you’d want it to be.