Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: "Ad Astra" is a lukewarm yet visually arresting experience

Ad Astra Review
We've been really lucky with space movies as of late. Once the decade ends, we can look back and remember we were so happily blessed with movies like "Gravity," "The Martian," "First Man," "High Life," and to a lesser degree, "Interstellar." Now lands "Ad Astra" which only adds to the decade of space. Much like the movies I listed above, "Ad Astra" is a brilliant visual experience. There is a good reason to check this out while its in theaters. Go to the best screen you can find and the let the images wash over you. That's half the treat with "Ad Astra." We have got really good and shooting unbelievable visuals of outer space and this movie is just another wonderful example of that.

Need more? No problem. Brad Pitt leads the charge in another potent performance. Say what you will about his boyish appeal. Say what you will about his turbulent personal life. But the fact is that Brad Pitt delivers every single time he's in front of a camera. He's one of the most gifted actors of his generation, and he can speak volumes by saying little to nothing at all. There's lots of looking around and body language in "Ad Astra" and its a little amazing how Brad Pitt can create a whole character, even when there is no spoken dialogue. He leads with a wonderful supporting cast, which includes Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and Tommy Lee Jones, all of whom do excellent work here.

Do you believe in life on other planets? Do you think we are alone in the universe? It's an honest question. As popular as storming Area 51 has been in recent popular culture, its something many seem to be thinking about currently. Don't laugh, but I don't think we are alone in the universe. Is traveling across the universe in light speed possible anywhere else? Well, we still haven't been discovered yet. Do I think we will ever meet other life across the galaxy, probably not. But I do think its rather naive to think that we are alone. "Ad Astra" takes place in the near future, where we are actively trying to discover life elsewhere. Pitt plays Roy McBride, an astronaut whose father Clifford (Jones) disappeared thirty years ago. Roy has begun to notice several surges across outer space and he is called into NASA for a mission. It is believed that Clifford is still alive and that the surges in space are being caused by a project Clifford was in on, a project that puts the entire universe at risk. Clifford went out looking for life on other planets, and now Roy wants to bring his father home.

The movie is equal parts "2001" and "Heart of Darkness" and like I said, its a visual feast. The movie touches on lots of familiar ground. Father issues, estranged relationships, stress from work and while the movie touches on these things nicely, they don't really break any new ground. I'd say the pacing is definitely something to look out for, as it does feel long in many parts of the movie. I think the bigger questions that are presented in this film are answered in a rather anticlimactic way, which always stinks to a degree.

But perhaps "Ad Astra" will be so wild to look at that the movie's few flaws won't matter so much to you. This is a nice character-driven piece. A luminous ride through space. It is piloted nicely by Brad Pitt. There is plenty to brace yourself for, and again, find the biggest screen you can!

FINAL GRADE: B+

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