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Parents' Guide to

The Aeronauts

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Perilous science adventure lifts but doesn't soar.

Movie PG-13 2019 100 minutes
The Aeronauts Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 9+
age 10+

Cinematography is stunning!

A film that I would have typically given it 3 stars, but the cinematography and the gorgeous scenery deserves a star all on its own. It took me about 20 minutes before I realized what the narrative approach for the film was. Once I did then I could confidently say the film still felt a bit of a narrative mess, but those shots are breathtaking and definitely made my palms sweat, but I'm also very afraid of heights.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (10 ):

The characters are inspiring, the story elements fascinating, and the visual effects breathtaking, but The Aeronauts still falls flat. Writer-director Tom Harper unspools the real-life record-setting balloon journey in close to real time, which creates a problem: That's a lot of happy floating time before nature threatens the expedition. One result is many wistful looks up toward the sky paired with "important" conversation that's obvious padding. Another solution is to recount Wren and Glaisher's backstory and motivations through flashbacks, a standard cinematic device that doesn't work smoothly here. Sometimes it seems like they've jumped forward in time, or you're not sure whose story we're looking at. Chances are good some kids will be confused, and since the technique is used a lot, that's a problem.

This is especially disappointing given the movie's potential to positively influence youth. Through Glaisher and Wren's adventure, scientific experimentation feels exciting. Yes, there's lots of fiddling with gauges and talk of structural integrity, but the notion of using scientific research to improve and save lives against the backdrop of being caught in a storm of Twister proportions is captivating. Wren embodies what it means to be bold in the sense that she steps outside of Victorian-era gender roles to follow her passion, as well as in the sense that she's fearless. Playing her, Jones emotes regret and caution while rediscovering her own will and courage. When she climbs on top of the balloon to break the ice that's preventing a descent, it's a thrilling moment for women: With dramatic flair, Amelia uses her heel to break a symbolic glass ceiling. The gorgeous shots of the balloon gliding through the sky and weathering the storm are the stuff artists dream of creating, and -- factoring in the death-defying actions and stunts -- the result is a cinematic wonder. Still, just like some scientific trials, The Aeronauts may have all the elements of success, but the outcome doesn't yield the desired results.

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