Ad Astra - Review
Matthew Brady - wrote on 10/09/19
“Work hard, play later.”
Once a year ever since ‘Gravity’ was released, we seem to get new stories about the voyage of space where certain characters “do not go gentle into that good night.”
I wasn’t wowed over the trailers for Ad Astra, because when you work at a cinema and spent most of your day watching trailers, well trust me when I say this didn’t stand out from the rest. I originally thought it was about saving the world or something like that. For what it didn’t advertise was a slow burn sci-fi movie that’s on the same level as ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and the emotional side as ‘First Man’. A personal story told through a first person narrative about unresolved issues from past relationship.
Basically an art house movie with a huge budget.
‘Ad Astra’ was pretty good. After only seeing it once, I feel that this will grow on me overtime and so far it has. A mixture of both ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and Terrence Malick movies. While not as great as those two comparisons, but while watching I couldn’t help to be reminded of those two.
There's some beautiful and impressive shots through out the movie, especially when the movie constantly shows you the entire scale of space and planets through the characters journey. The colors adds to environment that oozes with style and has a tranquil feel to it. I think that’s where the Blade Runner vibes really come in. Brilliant cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema.
Brad Pitt was terrific as the silent astronaut with tangled mood swings. It’s not an explosive performance, just simple enough for it to be effective. Any other actor would’ve gone big for no other reasons than being overly dramatic and it makes sense for his character to be closed off; similar to Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’, where his emotional health comes last. You learn very little about his character, as most of his backstory is only in the background for you to piece together the puzzle.
The score was mystical and often eerie at times which helped ties in with the unknown aspects of space. The visual effects are excellent and nearly photorealistic at times - something you come to expect by now with space movies.
I wasn’t too sure about the narration at first, because it was very off putting and a cheap way for the character to express himself. However it sorta grew on me after awhile and some of it was almost rambling with Roy questioning every decision he made.
Now for the issues:
I have no idea why Liv Tyler was in this movie, because she literally does nothing and could have easily been cut out. It felt like a reshoot for some reason.
Remember when I said the visual effects are photorealistic ‘at times’, but that isn’t always the case with certain scenes. There’s a deranged chimpanzee that pops up and it looks really phoney. I think that entire scene could been cut out. I’ve brought up twice about cutting scenes, because I believe if this movie went back to the editing room one more time, then my score would be a lot higher.
There’s a ridiculously and almost laughable scene where Roy (Brad Pitt) steaks into a spaceship that he’s not suppose to be on, and all the astronauts onboard go into a frenzy and accidentally start kill themselves while trying to cease Roy. No joke. Roy dosen’t even do anything as he never intended to hurt them. It was cheap way of making Roy isolated for the rest of the movie. A few years ago I remember reading a horrifying incident that happened to astronaut Luca Parmitano where he reported water inside of his space suit helmet, and nearly become the first astronaut to drown in space. However, Luca remained calm throughout the whole incident despite the odds of him dying being high, but in the end he survived. So it’s really strange seeing these trained astronauts freaking out because came on board.
Overall rating: Out of the whole spectacle, I find the meaning of the movie the most striking. The themes of family, love and abandonment plays a major role in the story. The whole idea of “working hard and playing later” comes with a cost, which is the less time we spend with our loved ones and abandoning everything to pursuit something better out there when in reality the best things in life are right here. When you discover nothing there’s no turing back and no finding your way back. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now after seeing the movie.
Never underestimate James Gray as a storyteller.