Ad Astra follows Brad Pitt’s character Roy McBride as he embarks on a mission closely tied to his late father. It has been advertised as an incredibly cerebral piece, but in reality, it’s disappointingly simplistic.
I went into this thinking I’d be seeing another Interstellar-type film – something that was so unbelievably complex that I couldn’t possibly understand nor appreciate its message until years have passed. Instead, I got a self-aware Apocalypse Now that was too blatant with its symbolism to actually resonate. The narration of the film removes any aspect of subjectivity, treating the audience like their intelligence is less than by making a point of explaining every complex thought rather than allowing them to ponder it for themselves. Without the narration, the symbolism involved would have been stunning, and the overall message would have hit harder than it did. It would have been a devastating piece, had they tweaked the script a little more, but it simply became the know-it-all lovechild of Interstellar and Apocalypse Now.
Despite its flaws, Ad Astra was visually beautiful. Its cinematography was akin to that of Blade Runner 2049 – a very stylistic choice. It gave the film certain tones in certain scenes, increasing anxiety for the characters against these new environments. Its use of colour and its swell of the score made it exactly the kind of atmosphere you would assume for this world. A world where you can freely visit the moon and Mars, swinging by Applebees for supper like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s both brilliant and terrifying to think of and to actually see a world like that right in front of you. The actors thrived in this environment, Brad Pitt especially. He approaches this role and owns it with everything he has. Besides, he has a great costar in Tommy Lee Jones. In the little you see of the latter, he manages to break your heart within seconds. It is strictly top-tier talent here and it shows.
While the plot is predictable and the narration dulls its shine, Ad Astra is still a beautiful piece. It refuses to shy away from its complexity, which is genius in some ways, while pretentious in others. It walks a very fine line between the two, but don’t allow that to be a deterrent. My opinion may vary wildly from yours, so I recommend seeing Ad Astra and interpreting it in whatever way you see fit.
As for me, I give it a 5/10.