The Astronaut’s Wife (1999) – Review

3 Stars

The Astronaut’s Wife is the artistic, intelligent version of Species II. Both films share similar plot elements but go about their respective business in far different manners. Species II is bottom of the barrel, worst of the year material, and The Astronaut’s Wife is a hypnotic, well-acted oddity. It casts a melancholy and seductive spell from it’s measured opening moments. The deliberately slow film takes its time telling a corny story, but each scene is atmospheric and every frame is a visual achievement. The Astronaut’s Wife is a knowing throwback to the art house horror films of Polanksi, Roeg, and Kubrick.

Hero astronaut Commander Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp) returns to Earth after a mission that nearly cost him his life. The near catastrophe has changed Spencer and his co-pilot, Capt. Alex Streck (Nick Cassavetes). Both men appear to be ok, but Spenser’s beautiful wife, Jillian (Charlize Theron), knows something is off. Gradually, Jillian notices that Spencer’s personality seems to have changed, but her concerns fade when she discovers that she’s pregnant. As Jillian grows closer to becoming a mother, her suspicions about Spencer worsen when she discovers he may be an alien species and she could be carrying two unborn aliens in her womb.

First time director Rand Ravich proves himself as a gifted talent behind the camera. He sets an eerie mood from the start and wrenches up the tension and stakes with every passing scene. This is a very well made movie even if the story is second run Twilight Zone stuff. The screen chemistry between Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp feels spot-on, and Depp swaggers through the film delivering a showcase performance inside of a genre piece. The Astronaut’s Wife has the added appeal of seeing Depp before Jack Sparrow changed his career, forever.

Director: Rand Ravich
Stars: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Joe Morton, Clea DuVall

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