This is a meditative space journey that you will either love or think is “kinda boring”. More than a little reminiscent of “Apocalypse Now”, with a splash of “Contact” and dash of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Ad Astra” is a long, slow and near perfect movie. Visually, this thing is flawless and Brad Pitt’s performance is nomination worthy. Look at you, “Ad Astra”. Giving me Andrei Tarkovsky realness.
Synopsis: Set in a near future where humans have colonized the moon and Mars (but not quite to The Jetsons era) we follow an astronaut named Roy McBride (Pitt), who is a blank canvas of a man. Plagued by endless evaluations, he shows no emotions. In the face of fear and stress, his heart rate never rises above 80 BPM. Also, he is a legacy. His father (Tommy Lee Jones) was known as the greatest astronaut to ever live, traveling further into space than anyone to date, before becoming lost in space years ago. Now earth is bombarded with electrical storms from space, coined “The Surge”. Roy is contacted when it is thought that his father, whom he believed to be long dead, may still be alive somewhere in deep space and may also be the one causing said space phenomenon. Roy is instructed to find his father and return him to Earth.
As soon as it fully becomes “Apocalypse Now” in space, “Ad Astra” does struggle a bit to keep up with greatness (mostly due to a few unavoidable moments of sappiness). But what writer/director James Gray (The Lost City of Z, We Own the Night) brings to the table that is unique is some interesting visual sequences including: showing audiences what the future may look like when space travel is more like traveling on a plane, what driving a car in space might look like and most importantly what the beginnings of government space colonization would actually resemble. And for those who’ve already seen this movie and say it was boring, I don’t know what else they could’ve asked for? This movie literally has everything: A father/son element, inner journey stuff, a cool car chase sequence on the surface of the moon that would make Vin Diesel jealous, and even (SPOILER ALERT) space baboons! What other movie can say that?
There’s been this lie perpetuated among some film-lovers out there questioning if Brad Pitt is truly one of the great actors of his generation. If anything “Ad Astra” reaffirms Pitt as not only a movie star, but also a rangy actor, who adds more to this movie than Martin Sheen did to “Apocalypse Now”.
Final Thought: “Ad Astra” is what “Interstellar” wants to be when it grows up. Fight me.
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