Ad Astra (2019)

Ad Astra (2019)

2019 | PG-13 | 124 Minutes

Adventure | Science Fiction | Drama | Thriller | Mystery

An astronaut travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of hum...

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • Moviegeek98

    10 / 10
    A sincerely captivating character study that depicts sorrow and vulnerability in the outer darkness of space, “Ad Astra”, directed by James Gray, is an intense and cerebral journey that uses space as a metaphor for the main protagonist’s loneliness and isolation. A film in which captures the feeling of loss and grief in a location far away from us. .
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    Taking place in the near future where society has colonized to the Moon and Mars, an astronaut travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet.
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    Thematically dense and visually sumptuous, the film serves as an examination of the fear of male vulnerability, the eternal struggle of losing yourself, and the sensitivity of being lonesome. The meditative and resonant paced film follows the nuanced narrative of a son pressured into following in the footsteps of his acclaimed father, creating a tangible bond that further expands the emptiness of it’s sci-fi setting with grief and anguish. That being said, the sci-fi setting is merely a backdrop for one man’s intensely personal existential crisis. The film never loses the human intimacy of the story, keeping us close to the main protagonist and viewing the events through his eyes. While this is a deeply philosophical film, there are also traditional action sequences that piece the film’s acts together and raises the stakes of the adventure to much greater heights with deaths, fear, and greed.
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    Brad Pitt’s stoic and superbly restrained performance brings much needed raw emotion to tie the film’s human aspect together. Carrying the emotional and physical weight in one of the most subtle and graceful performances of his career, the entire film is encompassed around Pitt’s wretched protagonist, as he wears the kind of cold and contented expression that showcases his tormented characteristics. Despite his uncaring demeanor, the film hints at some familial yearning for his estranged father that helps the character come across as someone more than just a callous figure.
    Utilizing colors and settings to further portray the protagonist’s emotions, *whether he’s breaking down in the red glow of Mars, or feeling sorrow while floating through the blues of Neptune* we feel the fear, rage, and desperation our main character endures. While the voiceover narration was a little unnecessary from time to time, the film’s gorgeously captured imagery helps drown out the tiresome lines of dialogue.
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    While on the topic of the film’s imagery, calling the film simply gorgeous is underselling its exquisite visuals. From the glistening cinematography done by Hoyte Van Hoytema, to the artfully celestial framing, to the seamless visual effects that don’t hinder the experience, the film is a deliciously exciting piece of technical art that grabs you right from the opening shot and grounds even the most implausible elements in a recognizable state of mind. While it seems kind of silly to be seeing an Applebee’s on the moon, the future in which we witness feels familiar and deeply plausible, a world in which space travel has become commercialized, normalized, and blighted by the same overpriced expenses.
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    “Ad Astra” strives to match the personal with the poetic, and the grandeur of space with the uncomfortable reality of human frailty. The film achieves all of the above with an expressive, yet restrained psychological drama that’s all told with sci-fi trappings and gorgeous cinematography. The film clearly isn’t afraid to be ambitious in its storytelling, but it’s soul is carried by Brad Pitt, who delivers what is one of the most breathtaking performances in his storied career. The film demonstrates what makes the science fiction genre truly great, and makes phenomenal work of blending the infinity of the cosmos with the eternal questions about loss and grief that possess no true answer, proving that in space, no one can hear you cry.