Ad Astra Review by Tim Nasson

September 18, 2019

There has been a lot of talk during the past two weeks about how amazing 50 year old Jennifer Lopez looks in the movie Hustlers. There is no denying the fact that she is one of the most beautiful famous 50 year old women in the world. However, equal consideration needs to be given to 55 year old Brad Pitt. I dare you to find a 55 year old male celebrity who is better looking than Pitt.

I have interviewed Pitt in person countless times, first for Fight Club, twenty years ago, (and also for Snatch, The Mexican and Troy), and what he conveys is not only physical beauty, but also exudes charisma and what very few men (or women) in Hollywood are still able to pull off, the act of being a Hollywood star.

Ad Astra is a beautiful movie to look at, not only because Pitt is the focus of the film, but doesn’t offer much in the way of an interesting plot line.

The film opens with astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) working on a space station, still attached to the earth’s surface. When some sort of space flare shuts down electrical equipment, he gets blasted down back to the ground in a very spectacular opening scene. Soon after, we find out, this event – now named The Surge – has caused massive power outages on the entire planet, causing the deaths of thousands.

From that moment on, there are so many holes in the plot, it is almost impossible to take the film seriously.

The basic story is Roy is chosen to travel to a spaceship near Neptune that has been lost years ago and in which his father (Tommy Lee Jones) is the commander. Roy thinks his father is dead. The agency that we would call NASA, today, think his father is a rogue scientist who is responsible for The Surge. His father is in charge of the Lima Project, which is the first mission to launch into the outer solar system, 30 years earlier. Yes, his father has been in space for 30 years (surviving on what nourishment for that long, who knows) without seeing the light of the sun, without breathing the earth’s air, without a dentist, doctor or anything, really.

Roy’s trip to try to find out if his father is alive, (and responsible for The Surge), involves a stop on the moon after taking off from earth from a Virgin Atlantic flight, replete with stewardesses and assigned seating. “Can I have a blinking pillow pack?” Roy asks one of the stewardesses. “$150,” she responds. Upon arriving on the moon’s ‘airport’, we see just about everything we see at an airport on earth, a Subway sandwich shop, a Hudson News, an Applebees, DHL, etc.

Beginning with the first stop on the moon, danger ensues, with moon pirates, (right out of Star Wars). After submitting to a psychological exam on the moon, it is determined that Roy is not mentally fit to continue traveling on his new mission. However, with the help of a woman (Ruth Negga), whose family she claims has been killed by Roy’s father while on the same journey in space with him, Roy sneaks onto the spaceship going in search of the elder McBride. Once in space, on his way to find his father, the commander of the mission passes out “mood pills.” What was intended as a laugh falls flat.

Midway through their journey to Neptune, the ship is diverted because of a mayday call. While exploring that vessel, wild baboons attack. In one scene right of the 1986 movie The Fly, an evil baboon explodes in a capsule.

There is a lot of homage paid to sci-fi and space themed films. In addition to the aforementioned films, Ad Astra also gives nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity, Space Cowboys, Aliens, among others.

The most confusing scene in the movie is the film’s final scene. Roy, having found his father, is near the planet Neptune, a planet that would take more than 12 years to reach earth from. With the way the film is edited, it seems as if from the time Roy leaves the area near Neptune to the time he reaches earth only a few minutes have gone by.  I and the person I was sitting next to assumed, (and it would have been a much better ending if it had happened), that Roy ended up finding another planet that contained life.

There is nothing original about Ad Astra. Pitt is the film’s saving grace.

Grade: C-

Ad Astra Review by Tim Nasson