Are there other life forms in space or is it just vast darkness? Space may never be fully discovered but the $80 million sci-fi epic, AD Astra, starring Brad Pitt took viewers on an expedition that attempts to answer the question that will continue to concern humankind for decades to come.
From this point onwards this article will contain spoilers for those who haven’t seen the movie. Proceed with caution! View the official trailer: Ad Astra, Trailer
Emotionally Impactful Performance
James Gray did an outstanding job of directing the film as well as Ethan Gross who wrote the film. However, I expected more from this movie. Perhaps newer aspects could have been added to the storyline which would make it stand out from other space related movies that often revolve around the same idea. But first, I will highlight the positive qualities of the movie.
The greatly talented actor Brad Pitt gave an emotionally impactful performance as he played the character of Roy McBride, who goes on an endeavor to travel across an unforgiving galaxy to divulge the veracity of his missing father, a character by the name of Clifford McBride played by the legend Tommy Lee Jones. The main themes of the movie are: mystery, drama, family turmoil, psychological issues and finally, action.
All of these themes are well met. The disappearance of Roy McBride’s father generated an atmosphere of complete mystery, leaving the viewers in their own thoughts as they think about all the possibilities behind the absence of Clifford McBride. An essential theme used in every single movie in history, “drama” is evident when Roy McBride finally reunites with his father. In this scene, an awkwardly dramatic tension engulfs the unhealthy air in the rocket ship as Roy’s dad refuses to come back home with his son. Denying any emotional attachments, dooming himself.
Next up we have family turmoil which is obviously displayed from the start of the film. Because the audience is informed that Roy’s dad left when he was a kid to go on an expedition, following the idea of life beyond our small planet within this blanket of oblivion.
Additionally, the audience learns that Roy may be facing some psychological issues. This is proved by the struggle the character conveys as he tries to restrain his mind from succumbing to darkness, undergoing small tests on a device that will determine if he is mentally fit enough to travel past the earth’s atmosphere.
Action and Baboons in Space
Action plays a big role in this movie as well. Viewers will be entranced by the movie as the action scene where a small chase from incoming hostiles was transpired in a series of shots with escorts and counterparts getting flinged here and there.
Another vehement action-filled moment took place when Roy attempted to help a rescue mission when he and the crew received a call for help from a nearby stationary rocket ship. Inside the rocket ship, Roy will come into contact with an environment infested with experimental rogue baboons that have taken over and killed the entire crew of that ship.
Moving onto effects, the realistic image of spacesuit-covered people riding motorized vehicles on the terrain of the moon appeared phenomenal, taking the audience on a journey as if the set has truly taken place on the moon itself.
The movie all in all is monumental. However, the story of the movie could’ve been further embellished. As a movie lover, I was disappointed with the movie’s finale. Roy finally found his father, who at the time was on a mission to find proof of the existence of other life forms. But saying that he could never go home to his son as he would rather die in space foreshadows the events that materialize afterward.
It was implied that Clifford had found something, purposely shutting down the whole spaceship and killing off his entire crew members so he would not be forced to go back. Yet it was never fully elaborated on, leaving some of the audience as confused as I was.
I believe the director James Gray could have played more with the movie, adding more dramatic history and including possible other life forms. I found myself having a hard time trying to figure out whether this movie was intended to be something like Gravity. It seems though that they’ve tried to have a mix of both. Nonetheless, Ad Astra proved to be extraordinary.
The only disappointing feature is their hesitancy to weave more ideas into the plot. Even though the movie could’ve used more ideas on the mystery side, Brad Pitt’s acting made up for most of it as he captured every moment perfectly.
Ratings and Earnings
A top critic from Detroit News on Rottentomatoes said, “This is slow, obtuse filmmaking with little emotional connection,” which proves to be true throughout the film. The movie hit 339 on the Tomatometer, with 83% and 9,011 verified ratings earning it a total of 40% audience score.
Ad Astra was screened in 44 markets outside the US earning $26 million. It also made $19.2 million inside the US, bringing its total to $45.2 million in global box office receipts.