A MILLION MILES AWAY (2023)
Release Date: 09/15/23 [Prime Video]
Studio: Amazon Studios.
"A biopic about José Hernandez and his path from a farm worker to becoming an engineer and an astronaut. A tale of perseverance, community and sacrifice to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
A Million Mile Away is the true story of astronaut and engineer, José Hernandez. Based on his autobiography, the film follows his life from childhood through college, marriage, fatherhood, his engineering career and ultimately the attainment of his childhood and lifelong dream: to work for NASA and fly a rocket ship into space.
If all that sounds like a lot to watch, don’t worry because the director does a great job with speeding up the slow parts. Plus the likability of lead actor Michael Peña completely carries this film. He is so charming in this role that the viewer can’t help but smile when he smiles and root for him every step of the way.
(As a side note, after following astronaut José Hernandez himself on the app formerly known as Twitter, I have to say José seems just as likable in real life as the actor who plays him in this film.)
You can watch and enjoy A Million Miles Away even if you have no knowledge of the plight of Latino migrant workers or any prior interest in space. This is a wholesome, delightful and inspiring movie that the whole family can watch and enjoy.
At its core, A Million Miles Away is an underdog story. Life gave a pretty unfair hand to José Hernandez in many ways. Born to a family of migrant farm workers who left their home and close-knit community in Mexico, then traveled and worked constantly in order to survive their new lives in California, José did not have it easy.
But José was incredibly smart, hard-working and likable, which may have helped him rise above many societal barriers. He impressed and won the strong support of one teacher in particular, Miss Young, who told him he could do anything.
He also had great parents who supported his dreams. Early on, his father gives him a recipe for success in life. There are five steps which include knowing what you want, figuring out how you’ll get there, and continuing to work hard to make your dream come true – even once you think you’re already there.
This “recipe” forms the backbone for the movie, as José follows the steps across the decades of his life. He applies to the NASA space program no less than a dozen times, facing rejection each time, until he finally works hard and sacrifices enough to make that dream a reality.
There are references to racial and societal pressures and difficulties in A Million Miles Away, but these elements are deftly handled by the director and co-writer, award-winning Mexican filmmaker Alejandra Márquez Abella.
I especially liked the use of music to show when Jose was focused on assimilating to fit in at his first engineering job – blasting mainstream 80s music – vs. when he proudly played Mexican music as he drove to NASA after acceptance into the space program.
The supporting cast is excellent, cinematography is top-notch and overall A Million Miles Away is an extremely high quality feature that'll leave the viewer feeling motivated and inspired. The overarching message – that tenacity is a superpower which will take you far, even to the stars – lands perfectly and is never too heavy-handed.