By Chris Kavan - 07/31/19 at 09:51 AM CT
It's another somewhat short but still satisfying MPAA Ratings Bulletin this week. While there are only, yet again, two major releases getting their ratings due, at least they are two of the more interesting upcoming films. Certainly, Ad Astra, which stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut looking for his father out in the cosmos, only to discover an even deeper mystery about human nature, looks like one of the more compelling films of the fall. Meanwhile, Will Smith pulls double duty as a retired hitman who finds himself facing off against his most deadly adversary yet - a younger, cloned version of himself. The face Ang Lee is directing this one has me most excited. So, yeah, not the biggest update of the year but one of the more interesting ones.
At first glance, Ad Astra seems to have some similarity to Interstellar - but director James Gray (know more for dramas like We Own the Night and The Lost City of Z) looks to put a more grounded spin on things. He's gone on the record to say that he hopes to depict the most realistic version of space travel in a movie. And it doesn't hurt the fact that Brad Pitt is playing the main character. His goal is to travel the solar system in hopes of recovering his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who has gone missing after a mission that could prove crucial to the human race. It seems he gets more than he bargained for as the mystery deepens and puts humanity in its place within the cosmos (deep stuff, man). Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, John Ortiz, Loren Dean and Greg Bryk help round out the cast. Gray has said the film is like Joseph Conrad's seminal novel Heart of Darkness (and it's most famous film version, Apocalypse Now), with a healthy dose of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in the mix. This is kind of a difficult sell to general audiences, as it seems a bit too esoteric and, well, plain weird for mass appeal. I'm thinking of the reception the (criminally underrated) Annihilation got. Despite the star power, it may not take off, but I'm willing to give it shot. Rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language.
Will Smith has played a genie, a reformed villain, a superhero, a survivor of the apocalypse, a boxer, a pilot and a Fresh Prince, among other things. But Will Smith has never played Will Smith... until now. Okay, so maybe Gemini Man isn't exactly that - but if you can't get enough of Smith, now's your chance to get two for the price of one. Smith takes on the role of Henry Brogan, one of the world's most dangerous assassins - at least he was until time and regret caught up with him. Seeking to leave the world behind, and finding a partner in Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), instead he finds out his former boss, Clay Verris (Clive Owen) wants to "retire" him... permanently, but instead of just killing him, he's going to replace him, with a younger version of himself. This clone possesses all his talents - and can seemingly predict his next moves - but none of his experience, thus is ripe for exploitation. Not only does he have to stay alive, but figure out how to stop himself from becoming another monster. If anyone can pull this off and make it work beyond just another action flick, Ang Lee is an excellent choice for director. I have been a fan for a long time and despite the somewhat wacky premise, if anyone can make it just as exciting as compelling, it will be Lee. Will Smith has been on a bumpy road, but with Aladdin breaking huge, maybe this will help solidify his comeback. Rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language.
Those are the two big films receiving their ratings due, but be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language.
Rated R for language, sexual content and some horror violence.
Rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language.
JIM ALLISON: BREAKTHROUGH
Rated PG-13 for thematic material and brief strong language.
Rated R for violence, language, some sexual content and drug use.
Rated PG-13 for some violence and language.
Rated PG for thematic elements and some suggestive material.
UNDERCOVER BROTHER 2
Rated R for some sexual material, language and drug content.