The Aeronauts

Hollywood hot air

As this movie would have it, in 1862, James Glaisher, who arguably invented the science of meteorology, hires a daredevil lady balloon pilot to take him to altitudes previously unheard of, dutifully taking copious notes and measurements. Things get out of hand when they rather foolishly find themselves at truly life-threatening heights, and it’s a while-knuckle adventure getting back down to safety.  

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones (teaming up again after The Theory of Everything) both put in fine performances despite a dull script, and cinematographer George Steel’s panoramas are breathtaking. Its message of female empowerment is also timely and necessary. 

But the pushing of scientific envelopes absolutely pales in comparison to how far this flick takes the old “inspired by true events” addendum. Only about ten percent of this really happened. Glaisher’s pilot wasn’t even a woman. Both characters’ backstories, told in incessant, earthbound flashbacks, are mostly made up. Not for acrophobes.

January 17 (100 min)