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Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
The first collaboration between Brad Pitt and James Gray. They planned to work together on The Lost City of Z (2016), but Pitt dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. He remained on board as an executive producer. See more »
This is not the annual sci-fi blockbuster you were looking for. Thankfully.
Disclaimer: Ad Astra is a masterful psychological drama disguised as a gorgeous sci-fi epic. This is not the next popcorn space adventure flick some were desperately waiting for. In fact, it is way more than that.
Driven by some of the greatest acting Brad Pitt has ever produced, James Gray's most ambitious film to date is a total treat for the eyes. Here, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema is reaching new heights of creativity in his artistic vision, which easily differentiates his present work from the likes of Interstellar (especially those scenes with Ruth Negga are spectacular). Special reference must be made to the beautifully generated special effects, which really make this movie a contender for the most realistic depiction of space (as Gray himself had in mind). Camera doesn't shy away from taking a closer look at its protagonist, using angles that elevate every aspect of his skillfuly understated performance. As the story moves deeper in space (and Roy plunges deeper into the hidden wounds of his psyche), Pitt's exceptionally well-executed facial expressions, eye movements and mannerisms reveal fragments of instability to an almost frightening extent, given how much of a calculated, calm and disciplined person the leading character seemed to be on the outside. You can virtually see Roy's deconstruction and recontruction throughout this epic journey into the abyss (of outer space and human soul).
Questions are raised, and answers are not always easy to digest. A life devoted to achieving a "greater" professional/scientific (but not necessarily noble) goal can lead to alienation and eventually abstaining from life itself. And it's not like it's always a rewarding journey. It often just leaves behind severely traumatized souls, as Gray's depressive, introspective space drama depicts in the most touching way.
If there are any negatives to be pointed out: Perhaps a little too many references to Apocalypse Now (at least I found them a bit distracting).
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