ad info

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

 video archive
 multimedia showcase
 more services

Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Get a free e-mail account

 message boards

CNN Websites
 En Español
 Em Português


Networks image
 more networks

 ad info



Review: 'Astronaut's Wife' never gets off the ground

September 1, 1999
Web posted at: 2:05 p.m. EDT (1805 GMT)

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.

Theatrical preview for "The Astronaut's Wife"
Windows Media 28K 80K

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.

Rosemary's babies

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.

Depp charge

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'
August 30, 1999
Review: Fading genius revealed in 'Celebrity'
November 23, 1998

Official 'The Astronaut's Wife' site
New Line Cinema
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

An Asimov twist: Robin Williams, robot
Beauty and the Bugs: 'Anna and the King'
Review: 'The End of the Affair' -- get out your handkerchiefs
Hanks tops box office with 'Toy Story,' 'Green Mile'
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.