• James Rutherford

'Ad Astra': A High-Touch and Thought-Provoking Science-Fiction Escapade Across the Cosmos


Movie poster for the film Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones

Ad Astra (2019) is a potent and highly intriguing science-fiction adventure film starring Brad Pitt as Major Roy McBride, son of the famed astronaut Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared into the far reaches of space years earlier. When mysterious power surges envelop the solar system and threaten mankind on Earth, Roy is assigned to a deep space mission to determine if the surges are emanating from his father’s long-lost research station.


Christened “The Lima Project”, Clifford's station was developed as a sophisticated mechanism in the search for intelligent life, but ceased all communications after reaching Neptune 16 years earlier. Roy's expedition to locate the vessel plays out as a multi-stage endeavor, rife with deadly obstacles and dramatic turns, as he treks from Earth to the Moon, on to Mars and eventually beyond Neptune in his desperate attempt to impede the destructive energy flows.


Co-written and directed by James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), Ad Astra is a high-touch take on science fiction adventurism replete with spectacular set pieces and touches of sublime existentialism. Pitt embodies his understated role to perfection, while cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema and production designer Kevin Thompson help deliver an immersive and utterly transcendent cosmic escapade. Emotionally compelling and refreshingly cerebral, the film ultimately serves as a warmly thought-provoking reflection on the irrefutable binds of familial heritage.

 

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