A Million Miles Away

September 15, 202360/1006 min
Starring
Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Julio Cesar Cedillo
Written by
Bettina Gilois, Hernán Jiménez, and Alejandra Márquez Abella
Directed by
Alejandra Márquez Abella
Run Time
2h 1min
Release Date
September 15th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

            Space, the final frontier, this is the dream of many, but very few achieve it. For José Hernandez, that dream might have seemed distant while working in the fields of California, but he proves that when you put your mind and body into it, anything is possible. This is the story of the first migrant farmworker to travel to space, a story that just might inspire the next José Hernandez.

As a child, José was not your average school kid. It wasn’t just the fact that he would wake up at 4 A.M. to work in the fields with his family; he was also academically gifted. With his parents’ sacrifices, he worked towards turning that gift into an engineering degree, with his sights set on becoming an astronaut one day. Along the way to that dream, he meets Adela (Rosa Salazar), the woman who not only sold him his first car but also stole his heart. José lands a good job and starts building a family, but each year he is turned down by NASA. These rejections though are not enough to extinguish his dream. Even as he fails to achieve his goal, he continues to excel in his current job. José prepares his mind and body for the day he gets the call, and on the 12th attempt, that call finally comes. This is just the first step to get to space, as, like the others who were accepted, José now has to prove not only that he belongs but also that he can be one of the select few to leave this planet.

Written by Bettina Gilois, Hernán Jiménez, and Alejandra Márquez Abella, the latter also directing. A Million Miles Away delivers a genuine story that will leave you smiling and feeling pretty good about things. Something unique about the narrative structure is that it is put together like a recipe of advice that José’s father gave him about navigating this thing called life. This is a choice that helps us see and understand the steps that helped José achieve his dream while providing a path to follow in making your dreams come true as well.  A Million Miles Away is familiar but, nevertheless is an inspiring story that proves that success, even in the face of extreme adversity, can happen.

This is one of those stories that will evoke a range of emotions, all in the positive spectrum. That is not to say  A Million Miles Away doesn’t have a few problems, because it does. For starters, it plays it safe and stays in its true-to-life comfort zone, never really venturing beyond that. There are hints of more depth, but too often it settles for just being inspiring, missing emotions elsewhere. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being safe, and really the only other misstep is having Pena play Hernandez at a younger age, which honestly just looks like one of the cast of Grease in 1978. These are problems that don’t weigh down the film too much, but do keep it from being something greater. Ultimately,  A Million Miles Away  delivers a feel-good movie that the whole family can watch, proving the impossible is possible, and that there is nothing wrong with aiming for the stars.

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