Originally scheduled to come out in May before being shuffled around following the Disney-Fox merger, Ad Astra finally received its theatrical release last week. Set in the near future, Brad Pitt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut sent to the outer reaches of the solar system in an attempt to stop a cataclysmic solar event having disastrous effects on Earth, while also trying to determine if the happenings are related to the last mission his father was sent on.
There are two really good movies in here battling for supremacy. One is a 2001-esque introspective space movie and the other is an action-adventure movie set in space. Both probably would have been great on their own, but don’t really work combined together. The combination causes pacing issues, with scenes of exciting action followed by long periods of a slow burn drama.
The story itself is interesting and it is always refreshing to have an original sci-fi movie in theaters. With that said, it seems like a lot of elements introduced early in the movie, never get resolved. The ending itself feels relatively anticlimactic because of that. Brad Pitt also narrates most of the movie, and a vast majority of it is unnecessary and distracting.
See also: Joker Review
Despite the negatives, the movie isn’t a waste of your time. There’s a lot to enjoy here. Pitt turns in an unusually understated performance as the main focus of the film. The space visuals are fantastic as is the sound design. It’s a perfect movie to see on the big screen to make those visuals really stand out. There are a ton of different space environments the movie shows off, from the vastness of the universe, to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, as well as close up views of several planets often not seen in film.
Ad Astra is far from perfect, but fans of heady sci-fi films will probably find a lot to enjoy in here. People expecting a more action-packed movie will most likely find a lot of it boring. If the movie would have stuck with one of those themes, it would have been more successful. The visuals and sound alone make it worth seeing in theaters if those things interest you.
Ad Astra is a middle of the road movie, and gets a middle of the road rating: 10-4.
Ratings from low to high: Felony, Misdemeanor, 10-4, Positive ROP, Golden Donut