Wednesday 31 August 2011

Devouring Films: The Astronaut's Wife

Oh boy. The hour and forty minutes that I spent watching this film I would really want back, if I hadn't spent about an hour and twenty minutes playing solitaire on my Blackberry, and more or less pretending that this film wasn't on in the background. Here are the nice things I can say about it: I sort of liked the twist at the end because it was quite unexpected and an interesting way to end things. And, Johnny Depp, was, of course, excellent in it- I totally bought that he was an astronaut possessed by an alien (well, since the original character was dead, I guess he just generally was an alien) as much as an idea like that can be bought by anyone.

Apart from those two things? This film literally had no redeeming features. It was astoundingly similar to The Devil's Advocate, another terrible film with a great actor in (I'm obviously talking about Al Pacino rather than Keanu Reeves, because, please- Keanu can't really act, bless him) in that Charlize Theron plays some guys wife, moves from Florida to New York and gets freaked out a lot. Only this time, there are aliens. And Charlize Theron? I mean, I've seen monster and I know this woman can act, but there is very little evidence of this in The Astronaut's Wife- She just sort of screams and flails around a lot and looks worried, or otherwise just relishes the attention from the husband that she knows there is something wrong with. What is wrong with this picture? Well, I've just told you. Everything.

Apart from the acting, though, there's the story. Or lack thereof. The problem from the very beginning is that you get no indication of what Spencer (Depp) is actually like as a person or as a husband, there are about 3 minutes of screentime before he goes off on the space shuttle and 'something weird happens that he won't talk about' whooooooo... So, while Jill (Theron) may know there's something wrong with her husband (although she really doesn't say too much about this anyway) there is no way for the audience to have any idea that there is something wrong with him. And, after all this, there's still about an hour and a half of the film to go, where nothing really happens. There is a half-hearted attempt by a NASA guy to warn Jill that something's wrong with Spencer,and then there's the big climactic twist, but other than that? It's pretty much just Theron sitting around being worried and irritating, while Spencer goes to work on a plane that's meant to fly into space or something? (I may have stopped listening by this point. But who can blame me?)

I really have no experience to be able to say anything about shoddy camerawork or anything, since I wouldn't have the first clue about how to shoot a movie (hence why my criticism is usually purely story related) but the camera angles and stuff in this seemed to be so strangely chosen and off-putting to the whole look of the film that even I noticed them. I don't really have the lexicon to be able to describe what exactly was wrong with some of the shots, but I'm pretty sure that just by watching it (which I don't recommend you do) you'd notice them yourself. I guess they could be justified by saying that they were trying to add to the disorientation and confusion that Jill was going through, but really- they were just odd.

I only have myself to blame for watching this absolute joke of a movie really- I was adequately warned by two Depp biographies (one of which was worse than this film, purely because it lasted longer) that The Astronaut's Wife was not a good film, but in my infinite stupidity, I just have to watch every Johnny Depp film ever made. This one has definitely made that goal seem like it's going to be a very painful one to reach. Even if I do have his face as a certain consolation. There are just a couple more things to say about The Astronaut's Wife: Firstly, it has a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which makes me wonder if that 16% are essentially brain dead, and secondly, very well pointed out by IMDb, all of NASA's operations are out of Houston ("Houston, we have a problem" ring any bells?) and the astronauts only go to Florida for Space Shuttle launches. That blunder really sums up the great big blunder this film really is- it probably shouldn't have been made (or at least should have been made better) and definitely should be readily forgotten, if only for the sake of one's artistic mental health. You should watch this film about as much as Spencer should have gone into space that time: in other words, not at all.

Note: I was so depressed by the awful that was this film, that I had to watch Cry Baby straight away afterwards. If you ever accidentally ingest this film, I suggest you do the same as the perfect antidote.


  1. I too suffered through this one. I know someone who LOVES this movie. When they told me the plot I thought it sounded awesome. Not so much. But I do like that you had the movie on in the background while you did other things.

  2. It wasn't meant to be a background movie, but it sort of just turned into one lol... I just couldn't! Argh, I'm still scarred by its awfulness...