Eddy Redmayne, known for flights of fancy in such films as “Fantastic Beasts,” soars to new heights with Felicity Jones in a new trailer for their upcoming movie “The Aeronauts.” Talk about joining the mile-high club.
The British-American biographical drama, based on the life of James Whitbread Lee Glaisher (1809-1903), charts his historic 1862 ascent in a gas balloon into the stratosphere.
The trip was ostensibly to chart winds and weather patterns, but Glaisher became a human guinea pig to test the affects of high altitudes on humans.
Jones plays Amelia Rennes, a fictional composite of real-life female balloonists of the era, who mainly performed in circuses and sideshows.
Unfortunately that’s where the movie departs from history. Glaisher never rode in a balloon with a female aeronaut. He was accompanied almost exclusively by his co-pilot Henry Tracey Coxwell, a well-known balloonist.
Academics, such as Keith Moore, Head of Library at the Royal Society in London, have criticized the movie because Coxwell was left out, even though he made historic contributions to ballooning on his own.
Coxwell even saved Glaisher’s life on a flight. In the movie, that task falls to Rennes. She supplies a good deal of sexual tension as well.
The pioneering 1862 ascent featured in the movie broke a world record for altitude. Although Glaisher passed out at around 10,000 feet, observers said the balloon may have traveled as high as 35,000 feet above sea-level.
Glaisher was a meteorologist by trade and served as the Superintendent of the Department of Meteorology and Magnetism in London. He was a founding member of the Meteorological Society (1850) and the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain, according to a popular biography.
Tom Harper directs the movie based on a screenplay by Jack Thorne.
The film has an 86 rating based on a limited number of reviews from screenings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, according to rottontomatoes, which tracks reviews.
Generally, critics were impressed with the cinematography and Jones’ acting, but were less impressed by the story.
“Something worth watching on the biggest possible screen, even if it operates on a handful of clichés with little character-based substance to speak of,” wrote Tomris Laffly of trade rag Variety.
His counterpart, Todd McCarthy, at The Hollywood Reporter largely agreed.
“The Aeronauts achieves impressive elevation as a bracing and sympathetic account of two early and very different aviators who together reached literal new heights in a perilous field of endeavor,” he wrote floridly.
Leave it to the Brits to pan the film.
“Unfortunately, this fictionalized take on a famous flight gives us spectacle without substance, floating out of the memory as soon as it passes off the screen,” writes Helen O’Hara in the UK Daily Telegraph.
The film hits theaters Dec. 6 during the Christmas holiday season. Check out the trailer below and let us know your thoughts