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Ad Astra

Opening Date
19 Sep 2019
PG13 Some Violence and Coarse Language
123 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Sci-Fi, Thriller
James Gray
Brad Pitt, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
By Jason Lin  19 Sep 2019
A new space programme launched in cinemas this week in the same veins of well-received productions like 2013’s Gravity, 2014’s Interstellar and last year’s First Man.
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A new space programme launched in cinemas this week in the same veins of well-received productions like 2013’s Gravity, 2014’s Interstellar and last year’s First Man. James Gray’s Ad Astra, which recently had its world premiere in last month’s Venice Film Festival, heightens and innovates the cinematic experience with an intimate yet far-fetching mission at its core.
Directed and co-scripted by Gray, the 122-minute production manages to build a strong presentation around a simple mission and story. Decorated and accomplished astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) seeks to reconcile with his past and long-lost kinship with his father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) as part of a top-secret mission to the furthest frontier of the Solar System.
Pitt commits himself to his character as a restrained personality who prefers to shut himself out of society and the world. This is persistently portrayed through nuanced expressions as Pitt submits a great character study of a man who has daddy issues as a young child.
The film opens with an extremely exhilarating action scene where Pitt’s character free falls from an exterior layer of the atmosphere while he was on a maintenance task in a spacesuit. Through the effective photography and camera work by Hoyte Van Hoytema (of Dunkirk and Interstellar fame), the entire scene of free-falling from space to earth is both thrilling and terrifying.
Another perk that Ad Astra delivers is the imaginative realm that it operates within an undefined near future when commercial travel to the moon is a norm. Upon arrival at the Moon, there is Subway and Applebee’s and one could also opt to travel via lunar rovers plying numbered lunar paths to the dark side of the moon. There is also a subplot where piracy takes place on the moon, which raises questions as to the rationale of having lunar pirates. Regardless, it is a great plot device as the audience is treated to yet another spectacular action scene that is almost like a space version of Mad Max: Fury Road.
After the genre delights, Gray gets back to business to focus on Roy’s mission that explores the breaking points of humanity. Travelling to Neptune, which is some 2.7 billion miles away from Earth, the human spirit is greatly tested especially as Roy undertakes the mission alone. Heavily filled with a monologue where his will and attention space struggles between the present and his memories, the film distances Roy away from everyone else while drawing the viewers closer into his perspective.
This approach may not sit down well with some viewers, but objectively it works to the intention of alienating Roy. The monologue is excessive, but perhaps necessary for someone who spends too much time alone. This is further emphasised with only brief images of Roy’s estranged wife Eve (Liv Tyler) showing up mostly in Roy’s fleeting memories. There is a lot of baggage to leave behind as an astronaut and it takes a special person to manage all that in addition to the high demands of space travels.
Ad Astra draws one deep into its blackhole of space adventure with (literally) some of the most breathtaking action while subjecting its characters to daunting physical and mental barriers.
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Trailers / Videos
Ad Astra | Official Trailer [HD]
Ad Astra | IMAX Trailer

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