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The Aeronauts Movie Review - A Soaring Tribute to the Questing Spirit

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne survive a balloon voyage to 37,000 feet!

Reviewed by on Dec 06, 2019
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews the historical adventure The Aeronauts, a story of early balloon adventure and the dawn of weather forecasting. Exciting, visually amazing and well worth attention.

In The Aeronauts, it is 1862 and adventurous balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Star Wars: Rogue One’s Felicity Jones) teams up with James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) who pioneered the art and science of weather forecasting. At the time they took a balloon trip to 37,000 feet, higher than anyone on Earth had ever been! The duo broke records and made great scientific discoveries while facing horrible physical and emotional challenges and discovering a life’s purpose.

The Aeronauts Movie Trailer


A Crazy Launch

At a fair in front of a large crowd, would-be weather forecaster James Glaisher waits for the arrival of his “pilot” Amelia Wren for the launch of their large balloon.

James and friend wait for late Amelia to arriveJames and friend wait for late Amelia to arriveCourtesy of Amazon Studios

They’ll be on an expedition to rise as high as possible to break records and for James’s weather research. Amelia, late, arrives dressed in a wild, clownish outfit standing atop a carriage and does cartwheels next to the balloon.  She understands that giving the patrons a show raises more money for the scientific adventure. She works the crowd very well while astounded James stands still a bit in shock at her showmanship. Amelia introduces her dog Posey and, as they ascend, tosses him out!  Oh, he is attached to a parachute and is caught safely below as planned. Whew!

Amelia uses showmanship to raise moneyAmelia uses showmanship to raise moneyCourtesy of Amazon Studios

A Crazier Plan

As the balloon passes over London below, James remembers watching balloons launch and wanting to somehow get in one with his equipment to prove his theory that the weather can be predicted.

James gets his first look at London from aboveJames gets his first look at London from aboveCourtesy of Amazon Studios

His colleagues at a scientific institution think he is nuts and laugh at him. Weather as a science isn’t accepted. On the balloon he reads his instruments and releases pigeons with the information. Amelia and James float into a cloud and feel the moisture. He believes in science. She relies on intuition. They are caught in a huge updraft that tosses them around. They have to throw weight out to rise above the storm.

The Trip

The aeronauts make repairs to their balloon as Amelia remembers that she mourned a long time after her husband died. He evidently was also a ballooner and fell to his death from their balloon. Her sister coaxes her out to a posh party thrown by her aunt. There she meets James who has heard of her and asks if she would pilot a balloon so that he can prove his weather forecasting theory. They must fly higher than anyone before. He has totally crashed the party to meet her. She agrees to help him and starts construction of the balloon even though her sis thinks she is cray-cray.

Amelia and James rise higher than everAmelia and James rise higher than everCourtesy of Amazon Studios

More Aerial Adventure

Rising higher and higher, the balloon soars through a huge swarm of migrating butterflies. Who knew insects flew this high? Amelia remembers that, after looking a newspaper clippings about the doomed balloon flight in which her husband died, she decided against the trip and told James she couldn’t pilot for him. He was shattered and also deals with his beloved father, a star-seeking dreamer who now has dementia. James’s friend talks Amelia back into piloting the new balloon. As the balloon continues its ascent, it becomes very cold at the edge of our atmosphere. Amelia and James can even see stars in the distance. She says they must go down but the call of the adventure changes her mind.

James helps Amelia during the stormJames helps Amelia during the stormCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Higher Than Ever Before

As brutal cold and thin air take their toll, we see that Amelia’s husband jumped, not fell from their balloon in order to save her. She has always felt responsible. They simply can’t live if they go higher. They agree to descend but the release valve to let hot air out so they can do down is frozen! With James almost passed out due to little oxygen and cold, Amelia has to literally climb the ropes on the outside of the huge balloon to reach the valve on the very top in order to release the air. After nearly falling several times, she does reach the top but can she get the valve to work?

Amelia climbs the balloonAmelia climbs the balloonCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Down to Earth Or….?

Can Amelia release the air needed for the balloon to get back to Earth? Is James going to die of the cold and lack of oxygen before this happens? Will the duo prove James’ theory that there are layers in our atmosphere and thus open the way for weather prediction? Up until then, nobody knew when a disastrous storm was really coming.

Amelia hopes to reach to topAmelia hopes to reach to topCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Wrapping Up

The Aeronauts is based on a wonderful semi-true story about early adventure in our skies and adventurer/scientists who believed there were answers up there that could be found only by risky discovery. Without these early pioneers, Mankind would never have placed men on our moon or be headed one day for Mars and beyond.

Felicity and Eddie on the rainy red carpet in LondonFelicity and Eddie on the rainy red carpet in LondonCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne make a great, dynamic couple drawn closer together by danger and scientific and personal curiosity. Felicity especially stands out as her character faces sad memories and is yet living in the moment able to go into quick physical action when it is desperately needed. The current flying action is broken up by many flashbacks however and they take the urgency and pressure off the flight.

Visually, the movie is gorgeous. Views down to Earth and of the balloon in high flight are convincing and you feel as if you are up there with the actors. Action scenes of high flight danger are exciting as well even though survival under the circumstances seems highly unlikely and pure fantasy.

If you ever wanted to soar in a hot air balloon or go beyond into space, this movie will entertain you. We award a strong three stars.

The Aeronauts Movie Rating: 3

The Aeronauts Movie PosterCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Watch The Aeronauts on Amazon Prime Video or at AMC theaters now.

Are You An Adventurer?

Leave a comment or note on your Kidzworld profile page. Would you want to go up in a balloon? Have you? Would you go on an adventure to advance human knowledge or…just for fun? Talk it up!


By: Lynn Barker