A biopic about Jose 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. (from IMDb)
A Million Miles Away is a straight-to-Prime Video biographical film about Jose Hernandez, a migrant farm worker who became the first of his kind to ever make it into space. Jose is played by veteran actor Michael Pena, giving the movie some serious clout from the start. However, directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella, A Million Miles Away feels overlong and sluggish, taking its time to get to the more intriguing aspects of Jose's inspiring story.
A Million Miles Away starts out while Jose is humbly living his life on a farm as a child. It's revealed right away that the boy has a great love for space and space travel, to the point where it's pretty much all he can think about. Jose's ethnicity seems to only somewhat play a part in his experience with NASA, but he ends up proving he's a brilliant engineer when he helps his superiors find a technical solution to a big problem that the organization's smartest minds couldn't realize for themselves. The movie has a slow, dramatic approach through most of its 2-hour runtime. We all know Jose will make it to space, but it's not until halfway through the movie that he even makes it into the space program. Then, when he finally does make it to space, the movie ends mere minutes later.
The best thing A Million Miles Away has going for it is the inspiring message about how we should chase our biggest dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem to be. A Million Miles Away also makes it quite clear that it will probably take hard work, determination and great sacrifice to make happen - but it will ultimately be worth it in the end. Hernandez was completely devoted to his family as well as his dream, and the man worked exceptionally hard to try to reach his goal. And when he failed more than a few times at some parts of the journey, he didn't give up, and persisted until he got it right.
Since A Million Miles Away is completely centered on Hernandez's life and his family, it leans quite heavily into his Mexican heritage and culture. Even the film's soundtrack is powered by Spanish songs. It's a nice little peek into how another culture lives, but if you're more interested in the space angle of the story, you're likely to finish the movie feeling unsatisfied. The first act or so drags a bit, with some conversational sequences playing out awkwardly. Some stories have intentionally awkward moments - especially comedic ones - but there was something about how some of the scenes between Jose and Adela played out that just felt unintentionally awkward. There are two scenes pretty close together early on in the movie that just feel off; to me, the movie felt more like a little, unprofessional indie film than the bigger production it was aiming to be. But once Jose's fight for his dream really kicks into gear, A Million Miles Away feels a lot less lost and aimless.
The content of A Million Miles Away is pretty family friendly, with only a few cuss words here and there. There are about 3 uses of "Oh my G-d," with the addition of 3 "h*ll," 1 "*ss," 1 "d*mn," and a couple other mild words. There isn't any sexual content or graphic violence, but the film briefly references the February 1, 2003 Columbia shuttle explosion, and we see what looks like some real footage from the aftermath. Again, nothing is graphic, but it's a sad moment that also reveals that a friend of Jose's was lost in the disaster.
While a decent production, A Million Miles Away makes sense as a streaming movie. It doesn't quite live up to the standards of a movie crafted for the big screen (although the space footage at the end is certainly impressive). If you like biopics or are looking for a little inspiration in your life - especially when it comes to fighting for your dreams - then A Million Miles Away is as close as your Prime Video app.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 9/19/23)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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