Review: 'Astronaut's Wife' never gets off the ground
September 1, 1999
By Reviewer Paul Clinton
(CNN) -- "The Astronaut's Wife" is an extremely slow flight to nowhere special.
Johnny Depp plays Spencer Armacost, an astronaut working for NASA. The stunning Charlize Theron plays his schoolteacher wife Jillian.
During a spacewalk, Spencer and fellow astronaut Alex Streck, played by Nick Cassavetes, are hit by an explosion. For two minutes, they lose contact with Earth. When they return to terra firma, strange things start happening, people start dying.
Alex dies in what's described as a "massive insult to the brain." In other words, he suffers a stroke. The real insult here is this script. His widow Natalie, played by Donna Murphy, apparently commits suicide.
Spencer and Jillian then leave NASA and Florida behind, and head to New York City where he's got a job as a rocket designer at an aerospace firm. Soon, Jillian is pregnant.
But something is wrong. Jillian s-l-o-w-l-y senses that Spencer isn't Spencer anymore. And the twins she's carrying may not be quite right, either.
Yep, "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) meets space: This time, it's not the devil that made them do it -- it's an alien.
Screenwriter and first-time director Rand Ravich has created a lush film with a beautifully stylized look, but basically this isn't a movie, it's a sleeping pill. Many scenes feel half-finished, and others never seem to have a point.
Depp, sporting bleached blond hair and a Southern drawl, and Theron, also blonde but no accent, deliver what they can. But this script has no substance, and provides little, if any, dramatic punch. Ultimately there's no "there" there.
The devil's duplicate
This is the second time that Theron has played a woman from Florida who follows her husband to New York City -- where her life is turned inside out by forces she can't control. That 1997 film, "The Devil's Advocate," starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, was also much ado about nothing.
So far Theron's career has been in underdrive. "Mighty Joe Young" and Woody Allen's "Celebrity," both from last year, have been her major credits to date. But this is one talented and beautiful woman worth watching. Given the right role, she'll be a major Hollywood contender.
She's currently in production with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. in a film called "Navy Diver." Let's hope she's not playing a woman from Florida relocating to New York. Cross your fingers.
As for Depp, he still has a shot for a hit film this year. The project is based on the old Washington Irving "Sleepy Hollow" and directed by Tim Burton, and it's getting great buzz in Hollywood. It's scheduled to open in November.
Meanwhile, many may feel "The Astronaut's Wife" is a film that can wait until it hits the video stores.
Apparently New Line Cinema isn't optimistic, either. There was no press screening for this film, usually a bad sign. The last time a studio released a film with no advance screening it was an unmitigated bomb -- 1998's "The Avengers." The prosecution rests.
"The Astronaut's Wife," which opened August 27, is rated R with a running time of 109 minutes.
"The Astronaut's Wife" is produced and distributed by CNN Interactive sister company New Line Cinema, a Time Warner property.
Theron bellies up for 'Astronaut's Wife'
MORE MOVIE NEWS:
An Asimov twist: Robin Williams, robot
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.