Brad Pitt’s face is certainly a highlight of Ad Astra and possibly the only reason I went to see it. After watching Once Upon A Time In Hollywood I remembered he existed and needed to see more. Luckily, Ad Astra provides a lot of Brad Pitt. A lot
That’s probably unfair, don’t stop reading now, there’s more to be said! I’m also very close to finishing a sci-fi podcast called Wold 359 – so I was also very keen for anything about long-haul space exploration and Ad Astra certainly gave me my much needed fix.
Ad Astra is set in the not to distant future where humans have basically turned the moon into a holiday destination/war zone. Astronauts are hanging out around all the known planets and a few are in search of other intelligent life. Roy McBride’s (Brad Pitt) Daddio is one of those astronauts. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) goes MIA, when Roy is a wee lad, on a voyage to Neptune to discover aliens. When crazy power surges, seemingly originating from Neptune, start having deadly consequences – It’s time for Roy to find out what really went down on Clifford’s mission and, of course, save the known universe.
Brad Pitt’s performance is stellar (haw haw) and that’s all that really matters. No one else is given enough screen time for it to have much impact if they’re decent or not. That’s not a bad thing, Ad Astra is clearly meant to be more about Roy McBride’s journey to self-discovery that anything else. The setting of space is just a means to an end. I know I just said that no one else’s performance mattered, but it is worth mentioning that Tommy Lee Jones was actually very good. I don’t want to say anything about why or what his character gets up to (or doesn’t get up to oooo!), because I want the film to be fresh experience for ya.
While overall Ad Astra doesn’t get you pumped on adrenaline, it does have a couple of very excellent moments which are definitely worth seeing. One of which, had me gripping the sides of my cinema seat (I hate to think of what people have wiped down the sides of those things…shut up), and half-expecting to see the aftermath of a Reaver attack. Then I remembered I wasn’t watching Firefly and that no one in Ad Astra has as much personality as any of the characters on board the Serenity. Wow, I’m getting very side-tracked more easily than usual. I apologise. What I was getting at, is that they do build suspense VERY well in a couple of scenes and the pay-off is also excellent. I feel like there were a couple of tasteful reference to other excellent Sci-fi films. One particularly poignant nod to a certain scene from Sunshine (although I’m probably very wrong about this and it might be common in many sci-fi films).
Visually Ad Astra is undeniably stunning. I would even say reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey at times (I still tried really hard to sleep through Odyssey – no matter how hard my husband tried to force me to stay awake). I just don’t get why narration is used so heavily. A little bit would have been ok, but I feel like it really cut into so many moments that would have been so much more powerful without Brad Pitt’s voice-over telling us how and what to think about what just unraveled. But maybe that’s just me! He does have a good voice, so I don’t know why I’m complaining. Don’t mind me.
Overall I would say I enjoyed Ad Astra. It lagged in parts and wasn’t as hard-hitting as it could have been, but it was a solid psychodrama that I did continue to ponder for a couple of days after viewing. It should go without saying, but if you’re looking for a Brad Pitt fix – this film will do nicely.