Movie Review: AD ASTRA

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Movie review by David Blackwell

124 minutes, Rated PG-13
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox/ Plan B
Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 9-20-2019

STARRING Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga
DIRECTED by James Gray
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is a career astronaut in the near future. He is sent on a mission to contact his scientist father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones). Roy thought his father has been dead for years after all contact was lost with the Lima Project which was a mission to contact other life on the edges of the solar system. An event called the Surge (which might be caused by the anti-matter reactor of the Lima) is affecting human life and causing electrical disruptions from Mars to the moon to Earth. If Roy's father is still alive, he will be tasked to stop him.

AD ASTRA is an existential sci-fi space movie in the vein of SOLARIS and 2001. It feels like what if Terrence Malick directed 2001 meets APOCALPYSE NOW. Roy narrates the movie as we hear what he is feeling as he tries to make sense of his life because he is a pawn on his mission to contact his father. It is very well photographed with fantastic special effects, a fantastic score, and some well grounded space science regarding space travel. The one weakness in the plot is something is always trying to put Roy in danger as a way to put the plot forward. It is a slow burn sci-fi movie where the action happens the most in the first hour as AD ASTRA takes on a journey of the soul and human connection. It is like 2001/ SOLARIS meets APOCALYPSE NOW. The internal monologues remind me of a Terrence Malick film.

AD ASTRA does have a sadness to it and it does show one of the most realistic look at space travel even though the science on anti-matter is wrong (and the reason for the Lima Project going to Neptune is flimsy). It is a very existential film. It is a very beautiful shot movie despite some of the action scenes being at war with the other movie which is supposed to the journey of Roy's soul as he goes deeper into space. If you don't like personal journey movies or a slow burn movie, AD ASTRA won't be your cup of tea. If you liked movies like SOLARIS, APOCALPYSE NOW, and SOLARIS, you will groove with AD ASTRA or maybe even consider those other movies to be better than AD ASTRA.

This review is (c) 9-23-2019 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com and check for further content at http://enterlinemedia.tumblr.com