Amazon is known as the digital giant for affordable consumerism and video streaming, but it also happens to be the home of some of the most original entertaining, beautiful films and television shows in the digital space. Recently in Los Angeles at the historic Pasadena Rose Bowl, Amazon Prime Video invited guests to take a step through time and gallantly enter the 18oos by way of their most recent original movie, “The Aeronauts Incredible Journey” for its world premier.
The film tells the story of pilot Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) and scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and their scientific adventure in a hot air balloon that is one for the ages. The evening began with a walk through a rendition of the old Victorian Fair.
Men and women dressed in Victorian-era gowns and suits, tents abound with scientific discovery kiosks that propel exploration to new heights and encouraged an interactive experience, including a green screen hot air balloon basket armed with a proper looking glass, and an exhibition of the film’s wardrobe. In one tent there was a tarot card reader, a cartoonist, and a traditional apothecary bar stocked with vintage soda pop, coffee and brown spirits. Outside there were popcorn carts, the Sweet Shoppe, a DJ, the “Mammoth” hot air balloon ride, and to make sure guests weren’t left hungry, there was an array of tray passed bites available.
In honor of the film’s theme of flying up, up, and away the movie showed three outdoor movie screens including a state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind 20-foot LED screen wrapped 360 degrees around a second hot air balloon. The film took flight as the sun went down and the chill of winter crept in.
Within the first five minutes of the film’s start you will be laden with anxiety and have the thrill of excitement coursing through your veins. You will very likely be on the edge of your seat. The harrowing tale tells the story of two scientists whose view of the world revolves around defying the research presented and challenging it.
It’s a story that reminds audiences that storm and weather patterns can be studied and artfully predicted thanks to the early scientists who challenged the status quo. “The Aeronauts Incredible Journey” is aptly titled and the performances by Jones and Redmayne are wonderfully engaging though I would have liked to have seen the heroism of Amelia (played by Jones) told in a way that gave her character more of a powerful place in 1860s England considering how brilliant the character is written to be.
The film is visually stunning, shot by cinematographer George Steel who captures the world flawlessly, including the ornately decorated balloon and a transcendent sky. Directed by Tom Harper, the story takes James and Amelia up some 35,000 feet in the air in a gas-fueled balloon while they face horrific conditions, breathtaking views of marshmallow clouds and vast blue skies, extreme changes in barometric pressure causing everything from ice to roaring winds, and a deep desire to survive. The duo measure the weather at varying heights, arguing with snarky banter in the confines of a tiny basket, trying to find harmony amid the chaos.
Now for my personal opinion: The film is exciting and beautifully shot and acted, but once again the female role of “Amelia”—who has the brevity and brainpower to lead the charge—is still being told in a way that makes it seem as if they’re doing women a solid instead of trusting Jones to carry the film. Aside from that, Redmayne delivers a wonderful performance as does Jones and their back-and-forth battle of the wits makes for one entertaining movie.
Now showing in select theaters. Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on December 29.
Photos by Jeff Lovin