Brad Pitt in "Ad Astra". Picture: 20th Century Fox
Brad Pitt in "Ad Astra". Picture: 20th Century Fox

'Ad Astra' is a slow burn of a space epic

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Sep 20, 2019

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"Ad Astra" directed by James Gray is a space travel adventure that deals with introspection and trauma.  

Rating: 3.5/5

Set in a distant future, "Ad Astra" follows Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he travels to the far end of our solar system to find out the truth about his missing father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones).  

If you're expecting Ad Astra to be a space epic with twists and turns with edge-of-your-seat action sequences, sorry, it’s the opposite. It's a slow burn with space more of a backdrop for Roy’s internal struggle about his father’s absence. 

The visuals of the film are amazing and you feel as if you’re with Roy every step of the way. The cinematographer did an excellent job in jumping between Roy’s point of view and expansive shots. Both the director and cinematographer were heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the pacing and the way scenes are filmed. 

Pitt’s performance is stellar since he has little dialogue and has to mainly convey his feelings through the emotions in his face. 

The script is very much touch and go. Characters make strange decisions at times and Roy does several things in the film that have no lasting consequences. While I usually hate gratuitous exposition scenes in films, Ad Astra did not have any and this makes it hard to wrap your brain around the faux science that is presented. 

Compared to other space epic films such as "Gravity" and "Interstellar". I would say it’s better than "Interstellar" - which lost the plot in the third act - but doesn’t reach the heights of the Sandra Bullock led "Gravity".

Watching "Ad Astra" in 4DX was the best use of the interactive cinema experience, with the film feeling more immersive while watching it. 

"Ad Astra" is worth the trip to the cinema with Pitt giving a stellar performance. If you don’t mind spending the extra cash then definitely go for the 4DX experience at Nu Metro. The script is clumsy at stages but not to the point where it’s distracting. 

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