I went into Ad Astra mildly excited. I liked the cast and the trailers made it appear to be a fun movie about the hero Brad Pitt fighting his evil father Tommy Lee Jones in space. However I was also curious why there wasn’t that much buzz over it either. I found the reason pretty easily before the credit started to roll. The 2019 film, directed by James Gray, was all over the place and not in a good way. The first half of the movie starts off in the vein of a Sci-Fi action film, but somewhere in the middle it went off the deep end and becomes a metaphor filled drama. Although the run time is only two hours, it felt like five. I’m not upset I watched it, because there were some moments I genuinely liked, but I’m frustrated they were stuck in such a boring movie.
As mentioned, there was a lot to be excited for going into the movie. The cast looked incredible. Brad Pitt rarely makes bad movies. Tommy Lee Jones is a respected actor. And we have other great performances by Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland. I don’t think the fault was in the acting at all, they did a great job. I honestly blame the director/producers for making an incoherent emotional journey. The plot starts off in the near future were a lot of achievable technological advancements have been made. The human race has created things such as the sky hook and commercial travel to the moon. Tommy Lee Jones character is set up to be a mad man that got lost in space, possibly talked to aliens, and is now trying to destroy the earth with anti-matter attacks. This movie gets you comfortable in a Sci-Fi action plot. There are even space pirates, I was hooked. But more importantly I was put into a specific mindset for the rest of the movie , that for some reason drastically changed it’s tone.
About half way through the film, Brad Pitt has to take a long journey to deep space. This gives the audience a long halting scene that destroys the momentum. Brad Pitt’s character, Roy McBride, spends the long solitude reflecting on his life and the terrible choices he has made in pursuit of a career he isn’t entirely sure was ever his own choice. This isn’t completely out of place, with his father being the inspiration for his path in space travel while also being the villain of the movie. There was setup to have these kinds of parallels and to have the main character discover these truths while living in the isolation, which his father was also experiencing. I feel like this scene was supposed to give the audience context to what kind of state of mind the villain of the film could be in as well as bring depth to Roy. The long, drawn-out scene could be forgivable if the movie had a different ending. However, the grand climax, nothing happens. The finale is a total bait and switch. The end turns the entire movie into some kind of metaphor for a son’s need to remove the ideas of outliving his father or something along those lines. Tommy Lee Jones ends up not even being a bad guy at all. Also there’s no aliens. Now, this would be fine…. If this was the entire film. But it wasn’t. It had space pirates and then they ended it with a wet blanket emotional anti-climactic boring ending. The emotional journey didn’t match throughout and that will cause a potentially good ending to be received poorly.
I’m disappointed. I invested time into this movie and was left thinking “well that’s time I’ll never get back”. No movie should ever make an audience feel that way. I would say Ad Astra didn’t survive The Snappening, but I don’t think I need to. Most people didn’t even watched it and the ones that did already forgot about it. If it was a Sci-Fi action film with a cheesy ending, I would have liked it. If the entire film was more serious and the metaphor of a father and son relationship had taken a more consistent and prominent role throughout the film, then I could have liked the ending because I would have been ready for it. Next time pick a lane and stay in it or the audience will make sure you get off the road all together.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith