Ad Astra

Space is a lonely place. Cold, dark, and endless, it is described as the final frontier for good reason. Still, for as long as mankind has understood that the stars are bright balls of gas billions and billions of miles away, we have dreamed of exploring the darkness, and solving the many mysteries that must be there, waiting to be found.

MV5BYmFmMDA1ZTUtMmNlOS00ODc3LTkxYWEtMTA0OWM4MDQxMjEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjg2NjQwMDQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1500,1000_AL_Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) has dedicated his life to space exploration. For better or worse, Roy has also spent his life living in his father’s shadow.  Roy’s dad, H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), was a legendary astronaut best known for disappearing somewhere near Neptune while searching for extraterrestrial life.  Roy never really knew his dad, so when he learns his father may not be as dead as was previously assumed, he’s not exactly jumping for joy.  Though to be fair, Roy has clearly never jumped for joy in his life. He’s detached, completely closed off from everyone around him, dedicated only to the missions he’s given, and his next mission is to try to make contact with his long-absent dad, who is now believed to pose a threat to all life on Earth.

The audience gets to accompany Roy on his journey, but of course we provide no company to him. Roy is alone, and while he mostly seems not to mind (indeed, he is really more comfortable in the solitude), Ad Astra weighed heavily on me. The mystery of space has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and accordingly I have dragged Jay to more sci-fi films than can be counted. Of those countless films, Ad Astra is the first to ask me to examine my curiosity and ask what, exactly am I looking for? What is it about space that draws our dreams away from our home and into the endless void?

There are no easy answers in Ad Astra, and plenty of time to think about the many big questions raised by writers James Gray (who also directed) and Ethan Gross. Space is very quiet, and Roy’s journey is a satisfingly slow one. The journey feels even all the more important because of the slow pace. It becomes more an emotional, and even spiritual, journey than a spatial one, and an exploration of what really matters to us, both individually and as a species.  And it’s a wonderful trip.

19 thoughts on “Ad Astra

  1. Brittani

    Even though there are so many movies about space travel out there, this one felt very different from the way it asked those questions. “What are we looking for?” I really enjoyed it.


  2. Jay

    I liked it because it didn\t feel like a space movie, it feels like a family drama that happens to play out between astronauts. It’s a deep dive character study, and out in the infinite galaxy, Roy is truly alone with his thoughts, with so much introspection it hurts. Can even be dangerous.

    I love reading about the universe, as you know, but I’m not that curious to go and explore it. There’s plenty here for me to be fascinated by. We haven’t even mapped out the human brain, our own thinkers, so it feels unfathomable to be to go in search of other intelligent life when we barely respect the life that grows here – we mistreat animals, we burn rainforests, we allow children to go hungry and die for lack of clean water. So yeah, I think we’ve got our hands full, and spending money on space exploration just never quite seems legitimate to me.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. David & Laura Speer

    Oh, David and I watched it and it was WAY too slow, the words, the pace the movie. Great ending, GREAT premise, but we thought we were going to watch an action movie, and it was not and we almost died several times over how slow it was. But LOVEd the message, just wish it done with more action and a better pace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Widdershins

    You have to suspend your disbelief with SF, but for a film that was trying to be all serious science-y stuff, the fact that they got some very, very, basic science-y stuff so glaringly wrong threw me right out of the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. selizabryangmailcom

    If it wasn’t for Brad Pitt, who I think did a great job, I think I would have asked for my money back. It was WAY too slow and extremely boring and so many things made no sense at all, including as Widders says, science stuff. But…for those who will enjoy a different kind of *space* movie with lots of thinking and musing and mulling over…this will fit the bill. 🙂


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