The Aeronauts amounts to a beautiful snoozer / Simultaneous Wonder Woman release gives fans options

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Aeronauts / Amazon Studios

“The Aeronauts” is a confounding movie that’s a feast for the eyes, but a laboriously boring chore to sit through.

The film drops exposition like atom bombs, and they are deadly and destructive to the film’s fluidity. However, the cinematography is truly breathtaking throughout the movie, but the clumpy dialogue weighs the movie down like a battalion of sandbags.

Maybe the film would have been better experience if it had it been a silent movie?

That said, I’m definitely not going to experiment by attempting to sit through it again with the volume down. I just don’t have enough hours left in my life.

The movie written by Jack Thorne and directed by Tom Harper is loosely based on hot-air ballon flights, detailed in the 2013 book “Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air” by Richard Holmes and is based on an 1862 flight by British aeronauts James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell. They broke the world flight altitude record, ascending to 30,000 to 36,000 feet.

Eddie Redmayne plays Glaisher, but Felicity Jones plays a fictional composite character named Amelia, who pilots the balloon while Glaisher collects information that will become the baseline for the development of meteorological science.

The bulk of the film is Amelia and James relating each other’s backstory to one another between fending off various emergencies that arise as their balloon climbs higher and higher.

The film’s climax features Jones scaling the side of the balloon to the top to release some of the gases so it will begin to descend. Here Harper and his cinematographer George Steel do some incredibly breathtaking work, but as fantastic as it is here and in other areas of the film, the need to tell Amelia’s and Glaisher’s dreadfully mundane backstories just slays the excitement.

If you do opt to watch this on Amazon Prime, I’d suggest keeping the remote handy to speed through all the exposition on your way to the action.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 41 min.
Grade: C-

Simultaneous theatrical-HBO Max debut for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’


The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the movie exhibition business this year.

Untold losses from closures in the spring to very light attendance in the summer and fall thanks to major release dates being pushed forward until next year have made even the most solid movie-theater operators scared of what’s to come.

With no real relief in site until possibly the summer when a vaccine should be widely available to the public, studios and theaters are going down roads and making deals that no one would have imagined just a year ago.

The latest shoe to fall came earlier this week when Warner Bros. announced director Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984” would be released in whatever theaters are still open on Christmas day and on the company’s streaming platform HBO Max. The film will play one month on HBO Max while also playing in theaters.

A highly anticipated tentpole movie like “Wonder Woman 1984” could under normal conditions have as much as a three-month stay in theaters, raking in a billion or more dollars.

In a Covid-19 world, it might last that long or longer, but make much less like WB’s other summer tentpole “Tennent,” with the company released in late August at Christopher Nolan’s behest.

“Tenet” was expected to be a billion-dollar earner pre-virus, but it has collected just north of $300 million, which means the movie didn’t break even after production costs and advertising.

With coronavirus cases on the rise post-Halloween, who knows what type of infection numbers the nation will be dealing with after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays?

“Wonder Woman 1984,” starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, was originally set to debut last June and was expected one of the top-grossing films of the year, but theater closures kept Warner Bros. pushing the release date for the $200-million film further and further back. When it was pulled from Warner’s October schedule, no new release date was given.

The assumption the was the movie would be held until a coronavirus vaccine could be developed, but word began leaking that WB was eying a Christmas day opening.

However, Disney’s decision to move Pixar’s computer-animated “Soul” to a Christmas day release on Disney + knocked the heels out from under Warner’s Amazon Princess, forcing WB’s hand.

If you’re a family with Disney +, it’s a lot easier to tune in and watch “Soul” at home, than to bundle up and mask up before making the trek to the movie theater to watch the Wonder Woman sequel.

A simultaneous launch of “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters and on HBO Max gives fans options.

It seems WB is attempting to use the highly anticipated Wonder Woman movie to spike subscriptions to HBO Max, which had a softer-than-expected launch last summer because the streamer was unavailable on ROKU and Amazon Fire devices.

However, HBO Max reached a deal with Amazon within the last week that makes the service available on Amazon Fire streaming devices. Maybe a deal with ROKU is also in the works?

If a deal can be made with ROKU in time for Christmas, “Wonder Woman 1984” might be the perfect film to prompt many who have gone without HBO Max to finally take the $15-a month plunge?

While it’s not time to fill up movie theaters with moth balls just yet, it’s clear that Warner’s and Disney both see their financial futures tied as much or even more to their streaming services as it does to releasing films theatrically.

Fiesta Square extends hours for Thanksgiving week

The AMC Fiesta Square Theater has been operating recently on a Friday-Sunday schedule because of the dent Covid-19 put into theater attendance, but the theater will be open today through Nov. 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Malco Razorback and Towne theaters are also operating seven days a week during the same time period.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • The Last Vermeer(R) 1 hr. 57 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Towne
  • Vanguard(PG-13) 1 hr. 48 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: Malco Razorback, Malco Towne
  • Sound of Metal(R) 2 hrs. 1 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: Malco Razorback, Malco Towne
  • Buddy Games(R) 1 hr. 36 min (watch trailer)
    Playing at: Malco Razorback

Starting Wednesday, Nov. 25

  • The Croods: A New Age(PG) 1 hr. 35 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Towne, Skylight, 112 Drive In

112 Drive In

  • The War with Grandpa — 7 p.m.(PG) 1 hr. 34 min. (watch trailer)
  • Elf: Buddy Sing and Cheer Along —8:45 p.m.(PG) 1 hr 37 min. (watch trailer)

Classic Corner – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Skylight Cinema)


There are scores of Christmas movies, and if you link horror movies to Halloween like I do, then there are literally thousands of them to pick from. But what about Thanksgiving?

That’s a tougher call. Thanksgiving has to be the most cinematically under-serviced major holiday of all.

However, director John Hughes’ “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is so funny, perfect, and right that it almost makes up for the dearth of Turkey Day films.

The Skylight Cinema in Bentonville is playing the the 1987 road comedy about two diametrically different travelers and their common quest to make it home for Thanksgiving today through Sunday. The movie captures perfectly the hustle, bustle, and even the loneliness the holiday season can exacerbate in our modern society.

Everyone has felt the pain of Steve Martin’s Neal Page as circumstances conspire to blow up even his most carefully drawn up plans. And if we don’t recognize it in ourselves, then we at least know of someone who has at least a smidgeon of the loneliness that drives John Candy’s overbearing Del Griffith.

Those unavoidable truths lift “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” above other funny but lightweight comedies. However the movie is memorable for its hilarity. Candy’s let-it-all-hang-out, blowhard Del drives Martin’s fastidiously high-strung Del absolutely batty as the latter struggles to get home to his family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

And, 33 years later, the pillow scene remains as uncomfortable as it is funny, just like the rest of the movie.

If you’re already a little weary of greeting-card Christmas movies that all seem the same, give “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” — a Thanksgiving movie — a try.