Tag Archive: real-life superheroes


Review by C.J. Bunce

At one level The Aeronauts is a welcome reminder of how much humans take the science and technological achievements of their forbearers for granted.  It is a harrowing adventure, heart-pounding like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (the story of a climb to the top of Mount Everest), and will leave you feeling like you, too, have spent a few hours dangling from the top of a temporarily frozen gas balloon on a record-breaking flight in 1862.  And the Mount Everest comparison is no joke, as the balloonists soon realized what happens to the body on a climb that high was happening to them, including the addled brain from hypoxia.  Of course this flight was 91 years before Edmund Hillary made his record-breaking ascent at 29,029 feet, about 6,000 feet lower than the real-life flight documented in The Aeronauts, so everything they learned on their balloon flight was new.

The real-life scientist James Glaisher is played by Eddie Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and the balloon pilot–a fictional composite named Amelia Rennes–is played by Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)–reuniting both Oscar-nominated stars of the historical, scientist biopic The Theory of Everything (which earned Redmayne his first Oscar).  Glaisher seeks to prove that the study of weather can result in the possible prediction of weather and seeks the expert aeronaut Rennes to partner with him so he can prove his theories to the doubting aristocrats of London.  To do that he needed to get higher into the sky than ever before.  Rennes’s role was based on actual aeronaut balloonists Henry Coxwell and Margaret Graham, with even more elements based on Sophie Blanchard, who was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and, like Jones’s character, became famous as aeronaut following her husband’s death.

The Aeronauts is based on the death-defying feats of aeronauts in Richard Holmes’ 2013 book Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air.  Since the real flight itself lasted less than two hours aloft, the film is a great character study and closed room story, with an undeniable friendly, non-romantic chemistry between the two leads.  But it’s Jones’s circus-esque, Flying Wallendas-like showmanship and stunts that will make you want to come right back and watch it again.  Inspiring, soaring, and adventurous, it’s the kind of film you’ll want to show kids to get them excited about being all they can be.

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Eddie Izzard 27 marathon

But is he Superman or The Flash?

This weekend Eddie Izzard proved he can do anything.  Renaissance man and jack-of-all-trades, he is one of the world’s funniest comedians, performing some of the best stand-up routines you’ll ever watch.  First known for his cross-dressing performances, he became a fixture in some of the best movies and film roles of this century, including key roles in superhero shows like Powers, Mystery Men, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.  On television, he could be found in lead roles in Treasure Island, The Riches and Hannibal, in popular movies like Ocean’s Twelve and Shadow of the Vampire, and doing voice work on films like The Chronicles of Narnia and the animated movie Igor.  He is one of those rare performers who can play it for laughs and also transfix viewers in the most serious drama.  His work in Valkyrie should have netted him an Oscar.  As for his status in the comedy elite, the members of Monty Python have referred to him as The Lost Python.

Izzard talks the talk and walks the walk.  He’s among the highest echelon of British philanthropists, giving millions over the years to bringing about political change and social reform.

And he has now established he can run with the best of them.

Izzard comedian stand up

Yesterday at age 54 Izzard finished running 27 marathons, more than 700 miles, in 27 days.  His running achievement took him across South Africa for Sport Relief, a charity that benefits the poor and impoverished across the globe.  The 27 days reflected the number of years Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and Izzard finished his run beneath a statue of Mandela in the city of Pretoria.  In doing so he raised nearly $2 million from donors.  And it wasn’t easy.  He was forced to skip one day for health reasons, but fulfilled his pledge by running two marathons on the 27th day.  Wow.  What did you do yesterday?

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