Skip to main content

Film Review: A Million Miles Away (2023)

It is rare these days for a film to be as inspiring as A Million Miles Away. This beautifully-told biographical drama about the life of José M. Hernández, the first Mexican-American astronaut who came from very humble beginnings, is a must-see. It is to director Alejandra Marquez Abella's credit that this exceptional film is one of the year's best. Abella knows how to tell a great cinematic story and does so with mastery. The film moves at a quick pace, never wallowing in the many setbacks our hero experiences throughout his exhausting but determined journey. Instead, the audience recognizes these setbacks as the stepping stones they are, each leading Hernández to fulfilling his lifelong dream, igniting his passion even more each time they occur. Hernández is the ultimate underdog and we, his inspired audience, can't wait to see his victory. From a production standpoint, this film is near perfect. As our protagonist, Michael Peña gives an award-worthy career-best performance. His impressive portfolio of performances include many standout roles in Crash, Cesar Chavez, and End of Watch (to name a few). Without a doubt, he is one of the most talented actors of contemporary films. Here, he is allowed to shine, earning the audience's devotion and empathy with a vulnerable performance that should propel him into leading man status for many films to come. Peña is surrounded by a supporting cast that collectively create a remarkable ensemble. Of particular note is Rosa Salazar (who plays the role of Adela, Hernández's biggest cheerleader and loving wife). To her role, Salazar brings a charming likeability, which fuels an unforgettable performance filled with love, grit, and hope. There's much to love about this terrific film. Yet, at it's heart, this heartfelt story is about a hard-working family who deeply believed in the potential of one of their own, and together, propelled him to the skies. 

David-Matthew Barnes

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Film Review: The Adam Project (2022)

Watching Shawn Levy's sci-fi action comedy The Adam Project is a fun, thrilling experience. The concept of the film is clever: a fighter pilot travels back to a specific point in his life, only to meet (and bond with) his younger self. The always-charming Ryan Reynolds is our leading man, playing the grown-up version of Adam Reed. Reynolds continues to prove he knows a thing or two about being funny. Here, his comedic timing is sharper than ever, evident each time he delivers hilarious lines of dialogue. The pairing of Reynolds with young actor Walker Scobell (who plays a 12-year old version of Adam Reed) creates a fantastic comedic duo. Their dynamic is very enjoyable to watch. They are surrounded by an all-star cast, appearing mostly in supporting roles, including Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner (both should've been given more screen time), and a devilish performance by Catherine Keener as an ultra-villain who you will love to hate. At the heart of the film, this is a good

Film Review: Undercover Girl (1950)

This intense and captivating film noir from 1950 feels groundbreaking and significant and deserving of noteworthy acclaim, which unfairly it hasn't received. While watching this remarkable film, I couldn't help but be keenly aware of how ahead of its time Undercover Girl is, not just for its content but cinematically. The story follows a female police officer named Christine Miller (played with mesmerizing brilliance by Alexis Smith in a career-best performance), who is determined to avenge the murder of her father by going undercover to take down the narcotics ring responsible for his death. In so many ways, this feels like a fantastic precursor for Police Woman , Cagney and Lacey , and even Law and Order: Special Victims Unit . Yet, the gender of our main character is not the only celebratory element: this is a damn good movie from start to finish. Giving Alexis Smith terrific on-screen support is Royal Dano in a complex role (his movie debut nonetheless) with which the very

Film Review: Joy Ride (2023)

Joy Ride is a lot of things: a bawdy comedy, a fun road trip movie, a daughter's quest, a hero(ine)'s journey, and a not-so-deep exploration of gender norms and stereotypes. While the laughs are plenty and the cast is charming, the film tries to figure out what it is and the result is a bit muddled.  Director Adele Lim (in her directing debut) knows how to tell a good story. Her pacing of the movie is what keeps this comedy going. Little room is left to catch your breath before you've been moved on to the next outrageous situation, seemingly set up to allow the cast of comedians to shine. And they do, in part to Lim's directing, but also because all four actors are so damn entertaining: Ashley Park. Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. Any of them could easily carry a film on their own. Here, they each have some terrific moments, but are ultimately diminished by a film that's too full.  Structurally, the film's first two acts work really well. After a qu