Astronaut's Wife/C+,B+
New Line/1999/110m/ANA 2.35

     Despite strong script reservations, The Astronaut's Wife had me squirming uncomfortably in my home theater throne. Director Rand Ravich does a much better job than writer Rand Ravich in delivering the goods. More horror film than science fiction or thriller, Ravich borrows comfortably from any number of sources. Think Rosemary's Baby with a slightly different suitor or think The Devil's Advocate with a slightly different Charlize Theron, there's no doubt that much of The Astronaut's Wife lacks originality. It makes up for script deprivation with style in spades. The peripatetic camera moves with ferocity at the right times and set design adds to the supernatural atmosphere.
      When a NASA space mission develops problems, the crew returns home with some unusual problems. They just don't seem like the same, solid NASA citizens. The strange death of one astronaut at a party adds suspicion that something is amiss. The remaining surviving crew member, Spencer Armacost, decides to leave NASA for a lucrative position in industry, necessitating a move to New York. Beautiful wife Jillian reluctantly relocates. This makes a great opportunity to make the most of New York locales, at which the film succeeds admirably. When Jillian turns up pregnant, she wonders whether its hormones or other forces making her feel the way she does. NASA exile Sherman Reese turns up to cast more doubt on the situation. But ultimately, it's up to Jillian to battle the forces of evil. Wipe that grin off your face.

Baby shopping interrupted. İNew Line

     Theron is a beautiful presence on screen projecting vulnerability without turning into a limp Jell-O mold. At least the script gives her some opportunity to emote. Johnny Depp has the impossible task of making  astronaut Spencer Armacost less than a robot. Depp usually has some alchemist tricks up his sleeve, but the script provides him with very little to do, other than raise an eyebrow to cast a shadow of doubt over his character.  Joe Morton is impossibly Farmisht as NASA employee Sherman Reese, who is forced to leave the agency after insisting that there's more to the death of one astronaut and the strange behavior of another. 
     The transfer is very good on all counts, with a thumping score recorded to keep you on the edge of theater chairs. A few of the darker moments might have had slightly stronger contrast. Detail is revealed consistently and virtually no artifacts interfere with the enjoyment of the picture.  Colors are intense with perfectly clean saturation. The Dolby Digital 5:1 sound is directional. Small and large sudden sounds are measured to make you jump or send chills down your spine. 




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Bright Lights Film Journal, issue 26
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ReviewsLovers of Hong Kong movies will relish MC4's site that includes  reviews and other information about the Hong Kong movie scene.

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