A MILLION MILES AWAY (AMAZON PRIME) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: The true story of Jose Hernandez. A man with a dream to reach the stars.
In A Million Miles Away, Michael Peña (Ant-Man, The Martian) stars as NASA flight engineer and astronaut José Hernández, one of the few Latinos who went to space. No surprises, this is a straightforward biopic on José and it’s based on his memoir, “Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut”.
Born into a migrant family, José Hernández has dreamt of being an astronaut since young. The beginning of the movie shows a young José helping his parents picking produce in various farms as they relocate from place to place and having a hard time staying awake in schools. That is until an intervention by a teacher called Ms Young, only then José parents decide to settle down in Stockton, California for good so that their children can have a proper education.
José manages to do well enough academically to be an engineer for an energy research facility and he married Adela (Rosa Salazar), a car saleswoman whom he had five kids. But all the while, José never gives up on his dream of being an astronaut despite being turned down by NASA 12 times. With the constant strong support from Adela, José finally went into NASA, fulfilling his childhood wish and shaping the impossible dream.
A Million Miles Away is a good old underdog story along the line of the recent Flamin’ Hot which is about the man who supposedly invented hot cheetos. There’s obviously no compelling twist or added dramatics just a simple tale about family, love and support ranging from his father’s recipe to success to his beloved cousin, Beto’s belief in him to his wife constant pushing to make him a better man.
Because of it, the story suffers from being slightly too bland and predictable. We know audiences complained if there’s too much creative alterations being made to a true story but when a narrative becomes so predictable, it can be quite a slog to sit through. Pardon us, we are just nit-picking a little here, A Million Miles Away is in no way a bad movie, trust us. That bit on José’s Indian America colleague, Kalpana could be explore further though.
On the bright side of things, Michael Peña and Rosa Salazar showcases tremendous chemistry together as the main leads. While not exactly eye-catching, the production values are fine and serviceable to the story. There are lots of inspiring messages and fulfilling the American dream sprinkled here so no denying, it makes for a wholesome educational, family movie.
Review by Linus Tee