AD ASTRA REVIEW
Starring: Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones
Directed By: James Gray (The Lost City of Z, We Own the Night)
Runtime: 2 hours 2 minutes
There are essentially two different types of quote-unquote space movies.Ones that use space as a backdrop for a shoot ‘em style action thriller and the other kind.These contemplate the insignificance of mankind given the vast nature of space.Ad Astra is definitely the latter, although it tries to mask that for as long as possible.There’s a pirate car chase on the surface of the moon, a baboon attack inside a spaceship, and more exciting action in Ad Astra.It’s used to deviate from the movie’s true nature.Exploring fatherhood and what it means to abandon your child, and to be abandoned as a child.
Brad Pitt stars as an astronaut who is cool under pressure.Not in the “I’m Brad Pitt, I’m super cool” way we saw him act in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this summer.But in a reserved, even keeled way.He is sent to Neptune after the Space Program finds his father, who was thought to have died on a mission nearly thirty years prior.
Ad Astra plays out like a 70s throwback in a lot of ways.The vibe of the film is Kubrick-ian.It feels like you’re watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.It’s talking in circles around you.Not revealing its true nature.Leaving you puzzled for longer than you need to be.
This is definitely a story driven movie, a character driven film.Not a special effects thriller.Although, the special effects in this are stunning.Definitely the best LOOKING movie of the year.The scenes when Pitt arrives to Neptune are gorgeous.You actually believe they went to Neptune to film this.
But a movie so focused on its story and characters ends up not having much to say in the end.I felt the movie fizzled out in the third act.I thought from the previews and the way the movie had been playing out that it was all set up to be a big third act twist, or at least a big reveal towards the finale.But there wasn’t and I was left underwhelmed in the end.We talk about expectations being the biggest determining factor in a movie’s acceptance often on this show.I was definitely expecting Ad Astra to go bigger in the end.
That doesn’t mean the movie as a whole failed.There’s a beautiful sequence of events at the end between Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones who plays Pitt’s long lost father.They’re spectacular and heartbreaking all at the same time.In a lot of ways, Ad Astra plays out very similarly to Apocalypse Now.There’s a quest to meet one man by the movie’s end and then we don’t really spend as much time on that ending as you thought one might.
Ad Astra works in a lot of ways; it has its share of plot holes.An ending that underwhelms, but what the movie is trying to do is talk about fathers and sons.What would you do for answers?How far would you go for the truth?In the end, Ad Astra is willing to go to the ends of the solar system, it just doesn’t execute the journey as well as it could have.
On a scale of “See It/Stream It/Skip It” – Stream It – Take a chance on this and watch it…eventually.I don’t think you’re at risk for spoilers on this one.I don’t think it’s going to get a slew of Oscar nominations.You can take your time and catch something else in the meantime.
If you liked 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, or Interstellar you might like Ad Astra
3.5 out of 5 stars for Ad Astra.Brad Pitt delivers the best he can in a beautifully shot movie that ends up underwhelming.