ROGER THOMAS REVIEW: ‘Ad Astra’ is a moving journey in space
Published 10:47 pm Thursday, September 26, 2019
By Roger Thomas, for the SNAP
There are many fine elements in the new space film “Ad Astra.”
Among these skilled arts include special effects, cinematography, editing, costumes, production design, sound mixing and sound editing, make-up and screenwriting.
Almost all of the elements of film making are utilized in “Ad Astra.” But of all the details and
thoughts that went into this film, the most impressive element of the film is the visuals.
It is hard to remember a film that has created outer space in such a haunting and realistic form.
Scene after scene, this film creates new ideas and each one is equal to the one before.
Many people ponder going into space and a film like “Ad Astra” will get those individuals as close as they can get on this planet. Scene after scene, the screen opens to a new horizon which is equal or better than the one before.
The specific creations of this film are the work of many artists. One of these is director James Gray.
One would assume Gray is the master of all the visuals, but there were many filmmakers working with him. There were creative artists who make moons, planets and stars. There are also space stations that seem real, inside and out.
All of these man-made structures and sources of transports in the film seem as real as the car the audience will ride home in after the film credits roll and the lights come up afterward.
Another strong factor in this film is the small but talented cast. There are three actors who carry most of the dialogue. First there is the pilot played by Brad Pitt.
Pitt has already acted in another film this year, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”
I liked the earlier Pitt film, but I like “Ad Astra” more. Pitt’s character is named Roy McBride in “Ad Astra.” And his role is perfectly cast.
Pitt has done many fine films. This is not his best, but once again it certainly shows how talented he is. Besides, in much of the film, no one but Pitt is on the screen.
The second lead actor is Tommy Lee Jones. He plays H. Clifford McBride, the father of Pitt’s character.
Clifford McBride is a man who has spent an abundance of time in space.
There is also a mystery about this man. In his life he has grown more obsessed of space than anything else, even his family, or his son.
Will Roy McBride complete his father’s path or will he seek another path?
The third lead actor, for a film that only has three prominent players, is played by Donald Sutherland.
Sutherland plays Dr. Thomas Pruitt. His character is brief, but significant.
Those three characters carry the whole story and all that happens within it. Most other characters that are on screen are seen only briefly.
The only criticism about “Ad Astra” is that the ending came a little too late. The film is truly remarkable and enthralling for almost all of it.
However, in the last 23 minutes, some of those moments could have been left on the editor’s cut.
Still, “Ad Astra” is one of the better films of this “summer/fall season.”