Ad Astra – Film Review
Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray, Ethan Gross
Stars: Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland
We meet Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he is carrying out repair work on a space antenna. He has followed in his father’s footsteps and works in the search for extraterrestrial life. His father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) is something of a legend. He died when Roy was 16 years of age when his spacecraft disappeared on a trip to the outer reaches of the universe. Now, with a strange power source called the surge emanating from the last known location of Clifford’s spacecraft, the military enlist Roy to help with the search.
This is a new film directed and co-written by James Gray. Gray previously worked on films such as The Lost City of Z and We Own the Night. This is his highest profile film to date, with Brad Pitt visible on the side of most of the buses around Dublin!
The film is quite introspective and there is a near constant voice over from Pitt, as he tells the audience his thoughts. Much like the Lost City of Z, the film takes the form of a journey, as our protagonist must travel to Mars and beyond in search of a man who he still thinks is dead! There are many interesting touches. Roy has to carry out a series of psychological evaluations at all stages of his journey as they try to control his state of mind.
There are some interesting co-stars. It’s always nice to see Donald Sutherland in any film, even if he is looking a little worse for wear. He is now 84 years of age but still plays a significant part in the film. The other main co-star is Ruth Negga who plays Helen Lantos, one of the commanders on the Mars base. It’s a small part but quite powerful and she doesn’t waste a moment on screen. Liv Tyler strangely features more in the trailer below than she does in the film! She plays Pitt’s wife but I’d image a lot of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
It’s hard to say if this film lives up to the hype. It really depends on how you like your sci-fi. If you’re hoping for wall to wall excitement, then it’s certainly not here! The film is slow and moody, but it does have enough twists and turns to keep you entertained. It’s hard not to describe it as a film about Daddy issues, and Hollywood does seem a bit consumed with the subject! If you’re a fan of the genre it’s a worthy addition that is stylish and well made.