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Ad Astra, An astronaut travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
That James Gray can create something completely new from a stereotyped genre,
it was already evident in his latest movie The Lost City of Z,
in which he transformed a classic adventure material of the early twentieth century, into an exciting introspective story about the many facets of deception and failure.
Finally, he turned the “history teaching” back into what it should be:
the exploration of the dark side of human dreams and achievements.
This principle, established in the historical context of this previous film,
is applied again in Ad Astra. Here we also see a man,
Roy McBride (Brad Pitt),
who fights with his present. In a way,
Roy is like Percy Fawcett in The Lost City of Z,
a researcher-traveler with serious relationship problems,
because McBride is an astronaut who dominates the toughest professional crises with autistic precision.
But in his life outside the professional, in everyday things,
we know that Roy pays a high price: he has an extraordinary inability to communicate satisfactorily with others,
including his former partner (Liv Tyler).
This break in Roy’s personality becomes even clearer when he learns that his father,
who believed himself lost in space as a hero, is still alive,
which is not good for Earth, for reasons they will understand.
Roy starts on a rescue trip, which reminds a little of the darkness in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, it’s almost inevitable not to relate them.
Gray remains true to his favorite theme, family, and what has always been his strength: an intimate cinema, with an impressive ability to bring his characters to life. Because despite its theme, the important thing here is not space travel, but the hero and his quest. In fact, there are some action scenes (very effective) and a sound soundtrack, but the narrative remains more attached to intimacy than to excess. The human being is still the center of the film and is particularly well served in the person of Brad Pitt, with a sober, precise performance, and an almost unchanging face. Gray’s delicacy and Pitt’s intelligence allow the protagonist to express his doubts, his hopes and his bruises of the past, with a small number of words and a particularly fertile script development of minimalism.
Gray closes the gap with other modern and historical models,
not only fulfilling what Stanislaw Lem had always wanted with his
“psychological” of outer space through father-son history,
but also closing the gap with the idea of a universe lonely,
in which only human beings live (if there are other intelligence,
they are not recognized by human beings),
with current cinematographic science fiction designs,
In which outer space is nothing more than a
“new ground under the plow “, with the bitter consequence that (as in the days of the discoverers of new continents), things continue basically as they did on earth.
In this sense, Roy is the same as Mark Watney in The Martian by Ridley Scott.
Because both films show that only by accepting the unlimited solitude of the universe is it possible to live in space.
If you embrace your own unfathomable depths, you also support those of the universe.
This will of “modern utopia” is an important part of the realistic dystopian analysis of our present,
because, however weak man is, there is little chance that Earth’s problems will be solved.
The great strength of the film is its universe, its context.
It is almost fascinating to see the progress made by the human race.
The Moon is not just a tourist destination for the rich.
There is exploitation of resources and, therefore,
divergent interests among human beings and, consequently, violence.
These resources are valuable and the attacks to seize them are legion.
Astronauts are subject to a whole battle of procedures,
the most important of these is the daily psychological test.
Roy goes on with his mission. During each step, you will encounter problems. In this aspect, the scenario is somewhat repetitive. Reproduce the same structure over and over again until the end point.
The universe of James Gray in Ad Astra would not be as interesting without the work of his cinematographer, the Dutch Hoyte Van Hoytema, known for his work on Interstellar and Dunkirk. It makes each take something memorable, letting its talent explode on screen once again. The music, signed by Max Richter, also contributes greatly to creating this atmosphere of anxiety.
Brad Pitt is obviously the real star of the movie. Once again,
he demonstrates his excellent acting skills, but he is not alone.
Some great actors have supporting roles, or even appearances,
such as Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland or Liv Tyler.
They are great, even with their short participation.
Lee Jones in that reference to his Colonel Stutz, is scary.
Ad Astra shows that James Gray is a very talented director who knows how to adapt to any context.
He managed to film this space adventure without focusing on major sequences or battles, the real war here is the interior.
We see the little explored stormy relationship between Father-son, where love-hate is as latent as the gravity that surrounds them.
Original title Ad Astra
IMDb Rating 6.7 120,286 votes
TMDb Rating 6.1 778 votes