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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to review something not usually reviewed, so I decided to provide some thoughts on gravity – the force, not the movie.)

Dear readers, I had overheard the stories about gravity
Long before I put myself at risk to feel it fully.
I didn’t think it quite deserved the talk of its depravity,
But now I can confirm that it’s a mean and selfish bully.

Of all four fundamental forces, gravity’s the only type
That visibly affects mankind and all that it attracts.
It strikes with every trip and fall and when the fruits of trees are ripe,
And tortures people on the scales with inconvenient facts.

It’s true it keeps us on the ground instead of floating into space,
But never has it once allowed a flexible exception.
It’s so obsessed with physics’ laws that when we climb above our place,
It tugs and tells the ground to give a less-than-soft reception.

Though gravity will have its way, its power is not absolute;
A bit of caution and respect can keep its pull at bay.
Few acts of nature are as quick to prophesy and persecute,
But gravity’s control will fade the more we disobey.

MPA rating: PG-13

I love a good historical adventure drama, and The Aeronauts on Amazon Prime had my attention right from its first trailer. Eddie Redmayne plays James Glaisher, a scientist intent on proving his hypothesis that studying the atmosphere can allow the weather to be predicted, but as with so many 19th-century visionaries in film, his theories are ridiculed by the Royal Society of London. (Seriously, Hollywood apparently thinks the Royal Society was so narrow-minded, it’s a wonder that anything was discovered at all. I’m sure such disbelief did happen, but I’m noticing it so frequently in these kinds of movies that the villainizing for villainizing’s sake is starting to annoy me.) To prove his ideas, he enlists the aid of the only aeronaut willing to risk such a venture high into the atmosphere, a woman named Amelia (Felicity Jones), whose balloon takes them on a dangerous upward journey.

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There’s a lot to like about The Aeronauts, not least of which are the visual wonders the pair encounter, from swarms of butterflies fluttering along air currents to the rainbows backed by mountainous clouds. As they get higher, the danger sets in as Glaisher especially struggles with the rarefied air and extreme cold. The high-altitude thrills keep the adventure from boredom, and regular flashbacks provide steady doses of character development along the way. Both actors do a fine job as well, reuniting without the romance five years after their pairing in The Theory of Everything, and it was nice to see Himesh Patel from Yesterday as a scientist friend of James’.

Yet for all its quality, The Aeronauts feels somehow lacking. Perhaps it’s because of its tenuous claim to being based off a true story. James Glaisher indeed made a historic balloon flight, but it was with a man named Henry Coxwell, making Amelia a composite character of other female balloonists who, while a laudable figure, feels shoehorned into the story. Certain elements do strain believability and historical accuracy, but The Aeronauts still does its best to build a grand scientific adventure on its half-fabricated foundation. It entertains doing just that, which is good enough for me.

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Best line: (Amelia Wren) “You don’t change the world simply by looking at it, you change it through the way you choose to live in it.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


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