The Aeronauts – film of the week

Grab the popcorn for these new releases.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 9:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 10:54 am
Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher and Felicity Jones as Amelia Wren in The Aeronauts. Picture: PA Photo/Amazon Studios/Entertainment One/Robert Viglasky.

The Aeronauts (PG)

Inspired by a true story, The Aeronauts takes flight with a heavy cargo of dramatic licence to chart a high-altitude expedition, which pushes two emotionally driven souls to the upper limits of human endurance.

Director Tom Harper's visually stunning odyssey is loosely tethered to Richard Holmes's 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took To The Air, which pays tribute to brave pioneers of the ballooning community.

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Scriptwriter Jack Thorne focuses on one notable entry – the record-breaking 1862 ascent of James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell – and replaces one of the men with a fictional female adventurer, whose daredevil actions are thrillingly realised by a stunt woman on a balloon in mid-flight.

However, characters are emotionally malnourished despite the best efforts of Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne to recapture their Oscar-winning on-screen chemistry from The Theory Of Everything.

James Glaisher (Redmayne) is a meteorologist in Victorian London, who believes the secret to predicting weather patterns lies 30,000 feet above the earth.

While colleagues in the scientific community pour scorn on his ideas, James is compelled to prove his theory by attempting a record-breaking hot air balloon flight captained by Amelia Wren (Jones).

She is the wife of a famous pilot, Pierre (Vincent Perez), who lost his life two years earlier during an ill-fated ascent. Haunted by Pierre's self-sacrifice, Amelia accompanies James in a wicker basket.

Far below, James's elderly parents (Sir Tom Courtenay and Anne Reid) and his good friend John Trew (Himesh Patel) await news of the expedition.

As the balloon passes 12,000 feet, reduced oxygen levels and the plummeting temperature threatens their wellbeing.

As the altimeter records 30,000 feet, Amelia prepares to clamber atop the bulging silk canopy to forcibly remove ice from a release valve, which should allow the balloon to descend safety back to terra firma.

The Aeronauts gender-flips historical fact to provide Harper's picture with a gutsy heroine, who refuses to surrender her fate to the laws of physics.

They convince us to care about their airborne trailblazers while a dizzying whirl of digital effects rages around them.

Out now.

Midway (12A)

Roland Emmerich, director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, marshals a huge budget to dramatise the Battle of Midway, which would prove to be a turning point in the Second World War.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa), who serves as commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy, co-ordinates a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour naval base on Hawaii.

In response, the Americans formally enter the Second World War and Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Doolittle (Aaron Eckhart) boosts morale by leading a daring raid on the Japanese mainland including Tokyo.

Consequently, Admiral Yamamoto escalates his plans to attack Midway Island in the Pacific, where the full might of the Japanese Navy clashes with American forces.

While Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) oversees the defensive operation, aided by Lieutenant Commander Edwin T Layton (Patrick Wilson) and Commander Joseph Rochefort (Brennan Brown), brave men including dive bomber pilot Lieutenant Dick Best (Ed Skrein) fight in the air and on the water to repel the Japanese attack.

Released November 8.

The Good Liar (15)

A silver-tongued swindler believes he has found the perfect target in director Bill Condon's deceptive thriller, which has been adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from Nicholas Searle's novel.

Seventy-eight-year-old widow Betty McLeish (Dame Helen Mirren) takes the plunge and posts her profile on the Distinction Dating website, in the hope of sparking romance with a nice gentleman.

Career con artist Roy Courtnay (Sir Ian McKellen) is matched with Betty and meets her in a restaurant, where he discovers that the distinguished lady is worth nearly three million pounds.

Sharing this news with his long-time buddy Vincent (Jim Carter), Roy pledges to steal Betty's fortune by worming his way into her affections.

As he grows close to Betty, she opens her heart.

‘You're the only person on this planet who makes me feel like I'm not alone,’ she coos.

However, Betty's grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) becomes concerned that the relationship is moving too fast and urges extreme caution: ‘It's too soon to be getting so close to him!’

Faced with the prospect of missing out on a seven-figure pay day, Roy takes bold risks to pull off his deception.

Released November 8.