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Ad Astra James Gray Delivers One of His Best Films of his Career Grade: B+

Source: IMDB

Ad Astra tells a story about a astronaut named Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), whom sacrifice a lot to become the best astronaut he can be. Roy is informed that his father H. Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), whom went missing in space years ago can still be alive. So Roy goes on a quest to find his father. The Cinematography was absolutely gorgeous to watch. Whether it be the visual effects in space, the comfort rooms, the red lighted hallway... So many beautiful shots in this film. I did enjoy the Score in this film, it was unlike any composed Score I’ve received when it comes to a sci-fi space film. Usually the Score in these kinds of films is extremely in your face, as tension is going off the roof. It’s a very mellow and calm Score this time around, as I really liked the change. I expect the special effects getting nominated for an Oscar, they were great. The cast all in all was pretty good for the most part. Brad Pitt is the entire show in Ad Astra, playing the role of Roy McBride. Brad Pitt was great in this role, you totally bought him in this part. I really liked the character Roy McBride, more importantly how he was written. He was a very relatable character to most people: Outside he’s calm and collective with himself, but inside... A troubled and broken man. Though he found great success as an astronaut, he often feels regret and shame majority of the run time. He regrets giving up on his marriage, in order to become a successful astronaut. He feels shame towards his father for basically abandoning him and his mother at a young age. For some we feel this character because people are great at hiding their emotions, as everyone assumes they’re perfectly fine, but in reality they really are not. I felt the on and off narration was very helpful to display this character, it gives us a better sense of what he’s going through and what his inner thoughts are. It’ll be a turnoff to some, as you may say this is a very moody character... But all in all, it’s a character I found better than most characters in this genre. Couple flaws to mention. The exciting scene featuring Roy fighting with space pirates, I will admit it was a cool scene... However I felt it should’ve been cut, it doesn’t really make much of an impact on the story. Also another thing: If we adapt to having more than one professional space crew traveling the moon, shouldn’t we adapt law enforcement on the moon as well?! It would make better sense, so you can prevent occurrences like this from happening, just a thought. There is some slow pacing issues here and there, even in the third act it took awhile for a character to do what is expected him to do. James Gray is the filmmaker behind this film, I’ve enjoyed his work over the years. Whether it be The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z, We Own the Night... He’s got a solid track record. What has become a common trend for James Gray films: Is critics enjoy his work, while the audience can’t quite seem to find common ground. Critics and the audience are so divided by this film, I’m actually surprised but then again I’m not. I think the audience wants more entertainment out of James Gray films, his films are more heavily based on dialogue and you have to think as well. I watched no trailers before seeing this film, so I had no idea what to expect. To me Ad Astra... Is one of James Gray’s best work thus far. It’s a very grounded space adventure film, that offers little adventure and is more of a personal film. Let’s talk about the couple exciting moments this film had to offer. Wasn’t so crazy about the space pirates scene, however the scene dealing with Roy traveling in space and stopping on the way to help a fellow astronaut... I’m not going to lie, it was great. Offered a great sequence of suspense, as I couldn’t predict the outcome of this scene, it was a fun scene. The other times of excitement are very settle as I actually enjoy it, only issue would be it was kind of predictable, but still worked. The personal side of this film came from how the world wants Roy to act and his father/son connection. Basically the space academy wants Roy to act a certain way and if his emotions are not sub par to their standards, then he’s not qualified to perform the task. Kind of reminds me how society is today... I maybe reaching, but that’s what I got out of it. If you don’t act accordingly to what the majority says or thinks: There’s a great chance they won’t accept you. We’ve become a toxic society, where you can’t be yourself, as Roy struggles to be himself because if he tries to be himself out in the open, the he can’t do his job nor can he go out and reunite with his father. The father/son connection really was saddening to watch. Though Roy’s father is glorified as this greatest astronaut of all time, to Roy he’s just a distant memory, as his disappearance really crushed his spirit, making Roy easily amused to being an emotionless human being. Though when Roy’s father comes back to Roy’s mind, emotions finally shift as he’s becoming more vulnerable to feel on the outside, making it hard for Roy to handle his emotions. I feel this going to hit home for some, whom has dealt with their parents abandoning them as a child. You can argue how the film wraps up is underwhelming, yet I believe this completes Roy’s character arc. He has grown as a person over the course of this conclusion, won’t spoil anything but I found it sweet. I feel over time Ad Astra will grow on people over time, as this film is going to end up aging well. Overall, Ad Astra was a pretty damn good film. I recommend this film, hopefully you can check this one out on an IMAX screening, it was certainly glorious to watch it in that platform. -Mitch Smietana

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