It’s not a movie you can watch without focus, but it’s worth setting the time aside.
Welcome to the future where Earth is mostly screwed. Or just the future, I guess. Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney/Ethan Peck) is a scientist who studied habitable planets. Years ago, he fell in love with a young woman named Jean Sullivan (Sophie Rundle), but they separated due to his obsession with work. This turns out to not be the worst decision as thirty years later, Augustine is apparently the last person on Earth, having managed to find a habitable moon of Jupiter for humans to move to after a catastrophe has rendered the planet uninhabitable. Trying to warn manned space probes about the situation on the planet, he only locates one, the Aether, a ship returning from the moon Augustine discovered. The crew consists of Commander Adewole (David Oyelowo), Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), Sanchez (Demian Bichir), and Sully (Felicity Jones). Augustine attempts to contact them to explain not to come back to Earth, but his antenna is too weak. His situation becomes more strained when he finds a mute girl hiding in his facility, now Augustine must try to warn off the Aether and keep the child, Iris (Caoilinn Springall), alive.
I’ll start off by saying that cutting 30 minutes out of this movie would be a great help. This movie aims a bit too high by trying to go too grand on the scale of the narrative. If it had pulled it off and kept a decent pace, this wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, it ends up feeling a bit longer than the audience is likely willing to endure. So many of the subplots or conflicts could easily have been cut, as many of them focus only to try and artificially heighten tension, rather than deepening the narrative. On the other hand, the movie is very dark and mostly pessimistic towards the future, so maybe having too many crises is thematic.
George Clooney is either alone much of the film or talking to a mute girl, so it is a credit that his performance never really feels like it gets old. Augustine is a man who has to constantly get dialysis (or blood transfusions, I feel like I might have gotten confused) and so can easily just let himself die, but keeps fighting to help keep humanity’s torch alive. It’s a very powerful portrayal. Most of the crew of the Aether, in contrast, usually provide the human interest aspect or the comic relief, but their performances help break up the dark, slow stretches.
Overall, it’s not that this is a bad film, I just think it wasn’t supposed to be two hours.
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