If ever there was a Marmite movie this is going to be it. I’ve seen Ad Astra described as thrilling and a masterpiece, but also as boring and dull despite having (MINI SPOILERS) moon pirates and killer monkeys.
My thoughts will follow a quick detour to Planet Synopsis
Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.
So after surviving a quite spectacular fall from a space structure tethered to Earth which serves to demonstrate that space is dangerous and Roy is a very calm dude, he is called in by his bosses to take part in a secret mission to find out if his Dad is still alive and the cause of cosmic blasts from around Neptune which are wreaking havoc in the solar system (and actually caused Roy’s accident). Of course, he says yes because he wants to find out what happened to his father.
I will say no more.
The tone of this film is hugely important and it’s constant calmness, reflecting Roy’s view of the world, reminded me very much of 2001 with periods of silence interspersing the action.
It’s also key that this is not far-future space; the fact that much of the infrastructure shown is plausible in the next few decades allows the audience to engage with the characters. I say characters but this is very much Brad Pitt’s film. He is so good in this role, displaying a calm and dispassionate outlook but with anger and hurt and resentment just below the surface. Such a contrast to the last film I saw him in!
The supporting cast is excellent though most of them don’t have much to do. The scenes between Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones as his Dad are very powerful, and the great Donald Sutherland is always a treat to watch.
I was not at all surprised to find that the director, James Gray, was responsible for The Lost City of Z, a film I adored (you can find my thoughts about it here), as the tone and approach is very similar.
So as you might have guessed, I loved Ad Astra and would happily watch again. It is thoughtful and engrossing and gave me a lot to think about.
Dazzling details: Ad Astra is directed by James Gray, is 2h 3m long and rated 12A for infrequent strong language, moderate violence, threat,
gory images killer space monkeys