One of the most interesting industries that has popped up recent years is the commercial spaceflight industry. In recent years there has been a race between several different companies to be the first to offer commercial spaceflight. While is is very unlikely that I will ever be able to afford a commercial spaceflight, I am unsure if I would even want to take a trip to space. While the experience and adventure would be a memory that will last for a lifetime, the danger of going into space would be hard for me to overcome. It is an interesting thing to think about though as we may have commercial spaceflight a lot sooner than many people would think.
I bring this up because the movie I am looking at today is about the idea of commercial spaceflight. Outside of the monetary restrictions, one thing that will likely impact who can travel to space is going to be health/age. That is the premise behind the Astronaut which releases today in select theaters and video on demand. The film asks what would you do if you always dreamed of exploring space and there was a contest that could provide you with your dream but you weren’t qualified to enter it? The Astronaut has a great premise that leads to a charming story about never giving up on your dreams that unfortunately stumbles a little on the way to its conclusion.
We would like to thank Aqute Media Inc, Buck Productions, JA Productions, and Quiver Distribution for the screener of Astronaut used for this review. Other than receiving the screener we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the screener had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
The Astronaut follows the story of Angus. After recently losing his wife and having to move in with his daughter and her family, Angus thinks his life is basically over. His health is failing and he doesn’t have much else to look forward to other than his family and starring into the night sky. His greatest dream was to become an astronaut but it never came to be. That is about to change though as a company that is striving to be the first to make a commercial spaceflight decides to run a contest to give away one seat on their first commercial flight to space. Due to his poor health and his age though Angus doesn’t qualify for the contest. As he has always wanted to visit space though he decides to alter his birthday and lie about his health in order to try and win the contest. After being one of a handful of people to be picked as finalists, his dream of exploring seems within grasp. Will Angus succeed at winning a trip to space to fulfill his lifelong dream?
Before getting the opportunity to watch a screener copy for the Astronaut I have to admit that I had never heard of the movie before. After watching the trailer though I was intrigued because the premise sounded really interesting. The idea of a movie based around an unlikely candidate entering a contest to win a trip to space sounded unique and interesting enough that I wanted to give it a chance. The movie looked like it would be heartwarming story of a person trying to live out their lifelong dream.
For the most part the movie does a good job capitalizing on the premise. While not particularly funny, it was entertaining to see Angus try to win a contest that he had to lie to get into in the first place. The movie really feeds off the theme of it never being too late to try and pursue your dreams. The family dynamics between Angus and his daughter’s family also bring a lot to the movie. The movie deals a lot with getting older and how your life has to adapt. At the same time though it reinforces the idea that you should never give up on your dreams. In this area the movie mostly lived up to my expectations.
As far as the acting I give the movie credit as well. For being more of an indie/lower budget film it does a good job getting a good cast. Richard Dreyfuss in particular does a good job in the main role of Angus. Angus could have just been a grumpy old man who was mad at the world. Richard Dreyfuss does a good job bringing life into the role though as you really want to see Angus live out his dream. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well. The family dynamic in particular works well for the movie.
Due to its indie/lower budget status, I was curious how the movie would stand up to larger budget movies. At times you can kind of tell where some corners were cut to save money. For example the movie doesn’t feature much CGI for a movie about traveling to space. The movie also seems to use the same sets quite a bit. For the most part though the production quality is pretty good.
While I enjoyed the Astronaut it didn’t quite live up to what it could have been. To avoid spoilers I will have to be kind of vague. At around the halfway point the story kind of takes a detour. Instead of focusing on the contest to get into space it changes focus to another story. While this storyline is decent it isn’t as interesting as the first half of the movie. At this point the movie kind of loses its way. The ending is satisfying but the movie stumbles a little along the way. This leads to a few slow points where the movie drags a little. Some people will probably like this detour but I wish the movie would have focused more on the contest to get Angus into space.
At the end of the day the Astronaut is a good but not great movie. The premise is really interesting and the movie does a good job utilizing it in the first half of the movie. The acting is quite good and the characters are interesting. The movie makes you want to root for Angus to fulfill his lifelong dream of going to space. At around the halfway point though the movie takes a detour. While the detour is not bad, I think the film would have been better if it stayed with the main storyline. This doesn’t ruin the movie but prevents it from being as good as it could have been.
My recommendation for the Astronaut comes down to your feelings about the premise. If the idea of an older man trying to win a contest to live his lifelong dream of visiting space doesn’t really interest you, the Astronaut probably won’t be for you. If you think the premise sounds interesting though I think you will enjoy the Astronaut.
Astronaut releases today (July 26th, 2019) in select theaters and video on demand/digital.