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From Skyward, to the Underbelly, and the Underwhelming: A Review of ‘The Aeronauts,’ ‘Dead Kids,’ and ‘Earthquake Bird’

Three new films on the streaming services may pique your interest. There’s the 19th century aerial adventure on Amazon Prime, 'The Aeronauts;' and on Netflix, our own 'Dead Kids,' and 'Earthquake Bird'

The Aeronauts

Harkening to a time when exploration and scientific discovery were filled with romance, adventure, and a disregard for life and limb, The Aeronauts is a well-intentioned old school filmmaking effort that boasts of impeccable casting. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones last worked together on The Theory of Everything, where Redmayne took on the role of Stephen Hawking. In this 19th century period piece, he’s pioneer meteorologist James Glashier, and Jones is daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren. Seeking to advance human knowledge of weather conditions and it’s possible predictability, they attempt to board a balloon and fly higher than anyone in history. Thanks to modern technology in cinematography, this Tom Harper directed film produces the goods and is a marvel to watch. Faring better than she did in Rogue One, Felicity survives this one!

Dead Kids

Co-produced by GlobeStudios, this made-for-Netflix film brings Filipino director Mikhail Red back to the streaming service—years ago, they picked up his Birdshot. From the opening bars of the vaudeville song “No Money, No Honey,” we know that Red is out to give us something more urban. Essentially, it flits between two genres, the youth-oriented, high school film, and the crime caper film. Kidnapping your rich, arrogant classmate for ransom is what drives the plot of this entertaining film. Kelvin Miranda as Sta. Maria, the financially-strapped scholar, Khalil Ramos as the goof ball Paolo, Jan Silverio as the nerd, and Gabby Padilla as the ditzy girlfriend are all up to the task. But we'd give special mention to Vance Larena as Blanco, the son of a cop, for scene-stealing. With a lot to say about today’s youth and social inequality, this one goes deeper into the Instagram-age than we think. A winner!

Earthquake Bird

Based on the Susanna Jones novel of 2001 that won several awards as a taut, cross-cultural mystery thriller, this Netflix production is produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Wash Westmoreland. Wash is behind Still Alice and Colette; so if anything, you’d expect him to deliver the goods depicting a complex female protagonist/unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, something seems to have been lost in bringing this book to life. Alicia Vikander seems to have been instructed to sleep walk, giving a catatonic performance we can't seem to get behind on; Riley Keough tries her best, and J-Pop star Naomi Kobayashi seems to be following Vikander’s lead (or lack of it). Set in 1980’s Tokyo, here is a film that just takes off on the wrong foot and never recovers. The elements are there; an interrogation scene, mysterious going-on’s, and even a snippet of Michael Douglas in Black Rain. But like The Goldfinch, this works better as a novel. Pass!

Lead photos via Rotten Tomatoes