How many space movies will it take for humans to believe that there is no extraterrestrial life? And if there is, will films ever be accurate in their depiction of new life forms? These questions are just a few that “Ad Astra” attempts to answer through a calm-minded character played by Brad Pitt.
Roy McBride (Pitt) lost his father when he was young. The grief never set him back, however, as he became an astronaut, following in his father’s footsteps. The movie portrays the relationship between father and son in an unfortunate story that involves love and loss, and knowing you are never alone in the universe. Pitt’s character is in every scene except for the occasional zoom-outs to see James Gray’s vision of the solar system. This sets the audience up for a close-up of Pitt’s acting, proving that he is not out of his prime yet.
Since Pitt is in every scene of the film, there are not very many supporting actors to lift his performance. But there is slight help that comes from Donald Sutherland and Ruth Negga. Sutherland’s days in the movie industry are numbered, and the movie hints at his lasting reputation with his short script. Sutherland helps Pitt’s character navigate a treacherous mission that leads him to the unknown.
Space is an unknown of infinite area, yet the humans of Ad Astra are attempting to uncover every inch. Gray’s vision for Earth’s future is a unique take on commercial space travel. He uses this vision to his advantage by putting together a story that will define the way humans will live in the universe.
I mention Ruth Negga because she’s important to Pitt’s character development. She doesn’t miss a beat because the lead helps her character find her part in all of his madness. However, not everyone could live up to par with Pitt as Tommy Lee Jones’ character loses all momentum on Pitts’ story.
Jones’ character has trouble expressing his importance in a film about father and son, leading Pitt’s character to do all the heavy-work in acting. It sounds like Pitt could earn an Oscar for his leading performance, but it’s too early to say.
Speaking of sound, Lorne Balfe composes a score that is unnoticeable, yet needed. Space movies today try to live with the facts of reality and stay true to “there is no sound in space.” However, Balfe’s score doesn’t distract the audience and brings together different moods that correlate well with the story. Music is an important aspect in the development of a film, and Balfe’s work makes the audience think he worked non-stop.
Despite the strengths of “Ad Astra,” the movie does have its faults. One of these includes Jones’ performance. However, the main fault is Gray’s attempt to try to turn the movie into something bigger; instead, he made the movie lose its rhythm. Nonetheless, his storyline is one that many adult audiences will relate to. Three out of five stars.