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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Ad Astra

Visually Dazzling


Ad Astra is a visually dazzling stroke of genius that’s destined to become a sci fi classic. Audiences are always hungry for a good space travel film and the eyes watching Ad Astra will travel far and wide.


Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) led a voyage into deep space but the ship and crew were never heard from again. Now his son Roy (Brad Pitt) is a fearless astronaut who embarks on a daring mission to Neptune to uncover the truth about his missing father and a mysterious power surge that threatens the stability of the universe.


Casting Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland ensured that audiences paid good attention to their characters because while they are not in the film all that much, they were essential for keeping the story going. They each had a small platform they used to give their small performances just a little extra spark but that spark made no fireworks.


The only performance aside from Brad Pitt that I can really acclaim is Ruth Negga. Ever since her Oscar-nominated performance in Loving, she’s been here and there but nowhere she can really show off her talent. She is calmly fierce in her small but masterful performance as Helen Lantos. Helen is a facility director who helps Roy when things get really terrible for him. Ad Astra is a story that comes with unseen revelations and Helen is the one to bring them to light. I could tell when she was about to depart from Ad Astra for good and that moment was unfortunate. It would’ve been nice if the writers had found a way to keep her in awhile longer.


Brad Pitt is obviously the tallest tree in Ad Astra’s forest. He spends much of the movie by himself and gives a performance that is tender and raw. Roy is not a miserable person but he is unhappy. Society sees Roy’s father as a lost hero and Roy constantly feels his father’s shadow instructing his every move. Roy’s been living this way for a long time and the possibility of finding his father gives him a possible way out. He says he doesn’t think his father is still alive but deep down, he must sense this mission was a long time coming.


Hoyte van Hoytema’s elegant cinematography is strong enough to lure audiences in from the outside. The variety of colors he uses for the space scenes may as well come from a rainbow as they will cinematically overwhelm you but leave you in a state of deep relaxation.


Overall, Ad Astra is a gorgeously structured work of art for the sci-fi genre to hang its massive gallery. There’s something there for everyone and everyone will walk out of the theater looking up towards the sky.

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