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Review: Ad Astra

September 23, 2019

Life in 2017, First Man in 2018 and now Ad Astra. We can hear you thinking “not another movie about space. Aren’t there enough of these?”. Well, maybe but certainly not like this one from writer/director James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant). While his Ad Astra is indeed about an astronaut on a space mission, it’s also about a personal mission to reconnect with a long lost father and coming to terms with life. That intense and emotional story, the marvellous performance from Brad Pitt and the stunning effects created make from Ad Astra a movie you should see.

3,2,1… Go!

Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), who has no parents anymore or a wife and kids, is fully dedicating his life to his missions. Space has no secrets for his anymore… or maybe just one. Due to strange powers coming from an unknown source, the earth is facing distractions destruction, death, and fear. McBride is being called in for a top-secret mission that’s not only going to have a massive impact on his professional life but also on the personal one. He will be sent up again. This time to Neptune to check out where the powers come from. However, Neptune might not be the only thing he encounters on that planet. According to the last intel, his father H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) is still alive after the latest failed assignment.

While having to deal with this very unexpected news, McBride has to prepare himself both mentally and physically for this next mission. During most of the preparations, he has been able to keep his cool but the news about his father might be too hard for him to handle. Due to the death of a fellow astronaut and due to the feeling that he’s being abused by the government, McBride might not be able to stay at focussed as he normally would be. After getting even more disturbing news about his dad, it seems that his mission is becoming in more danger. Will he be able to keep it all together and make from this mission a successful one or will he have to abort his mission for the very first time in his career?

Out-of-this world special effects

It’s for you to find out whether the voyage will be successful or not but at least one thing will have great success: This film! For many different reasons.

The brightest star of this movie is without a doubt the special effects that are being used. The visual effect department delivers out-of-this-world work with Ad Astra. Right from that very first scene, we feel what it should be like when we would be in space. That height and McBride descending the stairs is certainly a scene that will dazzle everyone. People with a fear of heights might need to close their eyes during that breathtaking moment. You feel the natural light but also the darkness of the universe coming your way.

While we all know that director Gray didn’t send it team up to space, the special effects made it look very real. The beautiful twinkling stars, the colourful rings of Neptune and the yellow heat of the sun. It’s all there coming to life thanks to the SFX team. If you’re dreaming of going to the moon yourself or you’ve always wanted to know what it would be like living in a spaceship, the impressive visuals will give you the perfect insight.

Brad Pitt takes Ad Astra to new heights

What Ryan Gosling did for First Man, Pitt (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, The Big Short) is doing for Ad Astra. Whether it’s as the dedicated, strong and professional astronaut or as the insecure, lonely and divided man, Pitt gives himself 100% every second. Some might say that his expression is a little bit monotonous but apart from the mission, there’s not much going on in McBride’s life either. Thanks to Pitt’s voice-over, the feeling and emotions from McBride are been highlighted even more.

The fact that Ad Astra is focussing mainly on McBride means that the more supporting roles are being pushed to the background. While Tommy Lee Jones (Just Getting Started, Shock and Awe), Donald Sutherland (American Summer, Basmati Blues) and Ruth Negga (Warcraft: The Beginning, Loving) are all captivating, wonderful and enjoyable to watch as H. Clifford McBride, Thomas Pruitt, and Helen Lantos, they don’t get much time to showcase their expertise which is a shame. Sadly the emotions fall a little bit flat more towards the end and it feels like this movie is dragging on. Some unnecessary and strange moments could have been left out in this film.

Ad Astra is a shooting star

It wasn’t so long ago that this film got its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Since then it’s been loved by both critics and fans. Due to the dragging feeling at the end and some strange events happening throughout the film, this film lost some light. However, it still gets three and a half very bright stars because of the captivating emotional scenes, stunning visual and top-notch Brad Pitt.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Ad Astra (Official Trailer)

Also Read: How Sci-Fi Imagined The Future

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