“Ad Astra” is written and directed by James Gray and stars Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride setting off on a quest to find his father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, in the near future. Space exploration has become a priority on Earth and humanity has begun to colonize both The Moon and Mars in an effort to reach out further and contact other intelligent life in the universe. Roy’s father, Clifford McBride, led one of the earliest expeditions to the far reaches of our solar system but now his mission is having consequences for everyone back on Earth and its up to Roy to try and find his father and his team.
This film is focused on Pitt’s character from the very first frame and he narrates his thoughts and feelings throughout the runtime as we watch him deal with different situations. It’s made clear early on that Roy is a very emotionally distant person that likes to be in control of his own thoughts and feelings. His personality makes him the perfect candidate for this world’s version of NASA, which requires its astronauts to remain docile and calm at all times in order to go on missions. While his personality makes him well-suited for space travel, it causes him problems on the ground, particularly with is love interest Eve, played by Liv Tyler and makes it hard for him to deal with his father’s absence throughout most of his life.
Isolation is a big theme of “Ad Astra” and Roy McBride is a character that claims to crave isolation. One of the first lines of the movie is McBride saying to himself ‘Just don’t touch me’ when thinking about working with his crew. That tells us where Roy is mentally from the very beginning but as he continues to cover ground across the solar system, his feelings about himself and others begin to change. There are bursts of action and excitement sprinkled throughout the film but its not “Interstellar”. You won’t get a lot of other-worldly action but there is plenty of visual spectacle to enjoy in “Ad Astra”. Gray does an outstanding job as a director shooting scenes in space, zero gravity, on The Moon, Mars and more and Hoyte Van Hoytema really shines as Cinematographer.
There is a lot to look at in “Ad Astra” and the near future setting is really cool to see but Pitt’s performance as Roy is the meat of the movie. We watch Roy develop throughout this quest as he learns more and more about both himself and his father. Pitt is always enjoyable on screen but this time around he’s really bringing something great to the table and helps make this cinematic space adventure memorable.
Griffin’s score 8/10
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