One would think when you get Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron on the same screen and an intriguing storyline it would make for, at minimum, an entertaining science-fiction thriller. Instead, The Astronaut’s Wife is a complete mess with subpar performances, a story that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and direction that is at best sloppy.
Genre(s): Drama, Thriller
Warner Bros. | R – 109 min. – $19.98 | July 10, 2012
Directed by: Rand Ravich
Writer(s): Rand Ravich (written by)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Joe Morton, Clea Duvall
Theatrical Release Date: August 27, 1999
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 20.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 1.0/5
Plot Synopsis: Courageous NASA astronaut Spencer Armacost (JOHNNY DEPP) and his beautiful schoolteacher wife Jillian (CHARLIZE THERON) are a seemingly perfect couple whose lives are momentarily shattered when Spencer’s mission mysteriously loses contact with Earth for 2 minutes. But neither Spencer nor Jillian know that those 120 seconds of terror will ultimately threaten their sanity, their future and their lives.
Quick Hit Review: I’ll start this review by simply stating that The Astronaut’s Wife is one awful, awful movie. First of all, the acting from two more than capable actors in Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron – even before they made it big – were utterly atrocious, Depp most of all with a clichéd and phone-sounding Southern accent and complimentary blonde-frosted hair coloring. Theron for her part is at least passable and I suppose does the best she can with the provided material, but she hardly make an impact and comes across more than a tad silly in more than one scene.
The movie was written and directed by Rand Ravich who, unsurprisingly, would not direct another film more than 10 years later (and his writing resume includes the terrible Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and the short-lived NBC series, “Life”). But even putting the writing aside, his direction is pretty bad as Ravich switches camera angles, he especially likes the tilting style seen in variety of poorly made films including the illustrious sci-fi classic, Battleship Earth. He also likes to change shots in one scene going from close-ups on the face, to the mouth, a wider shot of the actor, back to face, mouth, etc. It really was annoying and served no purpose to make the scene suspenseful.
I also have to comment on a few scenes that were laughably ridiculous. The one that immediately comes to mind is when Theron, a few months pregnant, decides to turn on the radio and dance to a generic beat, gets some cream whip and certainly somebody couldn’t be patiently waiting behind the fridge door… right??? Yeah, for whatever, unexplainable reason, Depp is there and we get a scare beat but it was random and most of all it wasn’t even that scary. Hell, I didn’t find Depp’s character to be frightening which means the movie plods along and you as the viewer are merely waiting for the inevitable and slightly predictable conclusion.
It should be noted that, not surprising, The Astronaut’s Wife had a troubling production including filming different endings and I have to wonder what was scrapped if the one featured was the best they could do.
In the end, The Astronaut’s Wife has little to offer other than ridicule and lampooning. The performances are bad or, at best, average, the screenplay is poorly written, the story itself makes little sense and the direction is amateurish, albeit some scenes look glossy and shiny. The movie has no soul behind it despite those behind the scenes seemingly thinking they were involved with something more profound and, gasp, entertaining.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
The only feature is the Theatrical Trailer. Apparently one of the DVD releases had included an alternate ending, but it is not on this release. You can, however, view it on YouTube.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
The Astronaut’s Wife infects its way, though a radio frequency, onto Blu-ray with a nice looking 1080p high-definition transfer. Released with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio (theatrically is was presented in 1.85) and while I can’t say it’s an astounding looking picture as there are instances of artifacting, the transfer still has some decent black levels and the color array seems to be spot on looking neither pumped up or artificially sharpened. If you’re a fan of the movie, and I know you’re out there whether you want to admit or not, then it’s probably a good step-up from the DVD version.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track meanwhile is more than effective especially when the film gets into the more suspenseful scenes where the over-the-top and clichéd thriller scenes rear its ugly head. Dialogue levels are also well done with clear audio coming from the center channel while the other speakers are used for ambient noises.
OVERALL – 1.25/5
Overall, one would think when you get Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron on the same screen and an intriguing storyline it would make for, at minimum, an entertaining science-fiction thriller. Instead, The Astronaut’s Wife is a complete mess with subpar performances, a story that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and direction that is at best sloppy. The Blu-ray does offer up solid audio/video transfers but falls short in features.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.