Review of 'Ad Astra'

ad_astra.jpg In a future earth, the planet is subject to power surges that Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), son of famed pioneering astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) is told comes from a project his father was working on Neptune, the “Lima” project. Roy's father has not been heard from in years so Roy is asked to transmit a message to his father from an underground bunker on Mars shielded from the power surges. When Roy is taken off of the project having send his messages and hurried away he knows something is up and decides to take things into his own hands…

Some of the effects look good but overall an uninspiring film. Even the long-expected climax is a bit of a dud leaving more questions than answers so one leaves the theatre quite unsatisfied. Not only that there are a number of action scenes in the film that have nothing to do with the plot (a moon rover race, an attack from a rabid monkey in an abandoned spaceship…) and appear to have been added to spice things up a bit and, boy, does it need spicing up. Pitt is at his one-dimensional best and never really engages the audience in any sort of empathy - He has little love lost for his father and considers him dead, showing no emotion whatsoever. Mind you, this attitude appears to be completely reciprocated by his father of whom we know very little and understand his actions even less. The dynamism of Jones as an actor is pretty much wasted here as we see him for much of the film in snippets of video used as exposition.

Sure, it looks great but that is it. We could pick apart the lack of scientific accuracy (the moon does NOT have earth gravity so you would not walk around the same way there…for example) but we don't really care enough too…there is just too much wrong here: The acting is lack-luster, the plot is confusing and thin, the characters do not inspire any sort of empathy…This is not to say there is nothing to work with but what there is, is woefully under-explored: The unusual relationship between father and son (perhaps a bit of love would not go amiss here); What exactly the father is doing; The influence of regular spaceflight on society (and not just the occasional glimpse of advertising on a space-station we see here); etc, etc.

If this film was an EKG you would see a flat line with severe spikes where the filmmakers have introduced fantastic action sequences but generally, the patient is dead Jim.


Review Date: 2019-10-06

Directed by: James Gray

Studio: New Regency Pictures

Year: 2019

Length: 123 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction