Johnny Depp is and has been for a long time one of my favorite actors. Films like Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and Dead Man made me realize how amazing he was and also made me thing he could do no wrong. Then a few years later I saw The Astronaut’s Wife and realized no actor is perfect. I hadn’t seen it since this review. Nothing has changed.
Depp plays astronaut Spencer Armacost who, along with Captain Alex Streck (Nick Cassavetes), loses contact with Earth for two minutes while on a space mission. They make it back alive and Jillian Armacost (Charlize Theron) is just happy to have her husband back. However, over a very long period of time, Jillian begins to notice strange things about her husband, he’s not quite the same as he was before the trip. Streck dies soon after returning from space and his wife commits suicide. Jillian eventually finds out that she died while pregnant with twins. Jillian is also pregnant with twins. More and more she starts freaking out trying to figure out what happened with to her husband.
This is a film that has an extremely slow build, but not in an interesting way. No, there is a cool slow build, then there is straight up boring. This film takes so long to get interesting that by the time anything happens you really don’t care, you just want it to be over.
The really strange thing about this film is that Depp and Theron are in it. At its best, The Astronaut’s Wife is a bad B-horror sci-fi film. It’s got a silly plot with cardboard thin characters and cheap thrills and chills. So what drew such high caliber actors to this project? Depp hadn’t done Pirates yet, but he was still a strong enough actor to pick any film he wanted. Theron hadn’t quite hit the same career highs that Depp had at this point, but she’s still proven herself a very capable actress. Then again, she did Reindeer Games a year later. Both actors give fine performances, they’re just not given a lot to work with in the script. Even Clea DuVall feels out of place as Jillian’s sister.
One thing that crossed my mind while watching this again I noticed that Theron had a very Mia Farrow hair cut. Which made me draw comparisons between Wife and Rosemary’s Baby. Both have that slow burn and claustrophobic paranoia following a pregnant woman all alone dealing with something supernatural. The only difference being one deals with the Spawn of Satan while the other deals with aliens. One had John Cassavetes and one has his son, Nick. Oh, and one is pretty crappy while the other is a horror classic.
This Wife/Baby comparison has allowed me to see this film in a whole different light. However, it makes me dislike the film even more than I did before. Before it was just another mediocre B-film that happened to have a couple good actors in it. Now it’s a mediocre B-film inspired by a great film. And to pull from such great source material and deliver such drivel really is a crime against cinema.
This film is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and DTS-HD Master Audio. This is a pretty good looking film if nothing else and this Blu-ray edition is the best the film has ever looked for sure. The sound is mixed well too.
This disc is as bare bones as they come.
I was really sad this first time I saw this film because it was the first time I didn’t like a Johnny Depp movie. Now that I’ve made the Rosemary’s Baby connection I dislike it even more. If you’re curious to see a bad Johnny Depp movie this is a good way to go. Otherwise I’m not sure why someone would want to see this film.
New Line Cinema presents The Astronaut’s Wife. Written and Directed by: Rand Ravich. Starring: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Clea DuVall and Nick Cassavetes. Running time: 109 minutes. Rating: R for violence, language and strong scenes of sexuality. Released: July 10, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Charlize Theron, Johnny Depp