Ad Astra Review

Ad Astra

Original films are becoming quite a rarity in Hollywood nowadays. Yet it’s even rarer to see original sci-fi films in theaters. So it’s refreshing to see a high-profile star like Brad Pitt involving himself in an original sci-fi film: Ad Astra. Is Ad Astra the kind of sci-fi film that general audiences will enjoy or is it the kind of sci-fi film that only a niche crowd will enjoy?

Although Ad Astra is a solid sci-fi film, the film’s slow-burn reveal isn’t for everyone.

Ad Astra follows astronaut Roy McBride who must traverse across the galaxy to uncover the truth about his missing father.

Ad Astra - Brad Pitt

If the trailers and TV spots led you to believe that Ad Astra would be a slow burn, visually appealing film then you’d be right. Ad Astra is exactly that. The film builds slowly and I mean slowly. It’s a slow burn type of film that will only attract the most patient of people or those with no investment in the story.

First of all, Ad Astra takes a lot of inspiration from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Thematically, the storylines are extremely similar—just without any of the napalm talk. The film isn’t about an explosive and satisfying ending but about the perilous journey to get there. So if you’re expecting a climactic ending then lower your expectations. This is a slow burn character study.

As a result, there’s a strong chance that you may not have any investment in the story. A lot of that is due to the world that the film inhabits. Because of the nature of the world, the characters themselves are devoid of any personality and attitude. There’s no explanation as to why, but it is a major component of the world.

Ad Astra - Brad Pitt and Donald Sutherland

This also includes Brad Pitt—who is as cold as ice at the beginning of the film. But his personality seeps through more and more subtly as the film goes on. This is easily his best performance of the year. Yes, more than Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. His performance here is much more layered than in Once.

But the film is strictly Pitt’s movie and his alone. Any other actor in the film is in it for a short amount of time. This means that the rest of the cast are all minor characters instead of supporting characters. So don’t expect to see a lot of the cast on the screen.

Nevertheless, Ad Astra is stunningly beautiful with Hoyte van Hoytema’s touch of realism and cinematic art. Not to mention, the small attention to detail within the audio mix is superb as well. It’s the littlest things that pull you into this rich and visceral world.

Overall, Ad Astra is a visually appealing film anchored by Brad Pitt’s fantastic performance. Yet this is a film that isn’t for everyone. The film is very slow with a lot of empty hollow characters. Also, you might not be able to put too much investment in the film due to the lack of suspense or thrills. This isn’t Interstellar nor is it Gravity—so keep your expectations in check.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1613 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.