Ad Astra becomes an impossibly intricate take on what it means to be human
Visionary space dramas seem to be collating themselves like fingers on a hand. Interstellar, Gravity, Blade Runner 2049. Each of the modern day masters of incredible cinema appear to love at least one foray into the emptiness around our planet, exploring the difficult themes that come with that. James Grey is no different as he takes is epic style on longevity and loneliness from the jungles of The Lost City Of Z to space, bring Ad Astra to life in a beautifully cinematic way.
Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) returns to Earth after an accident on the International Space Station is caused by an impossible power surge. McBride is informed under top secret conditions that those higher up in the space program believe the surge to have come from The Lima Project, a mission previously commanded by his father, designated obsolete sixteen years earlier. McBride is tasked with travelling to Mars via The Moon to attempt to contact his father, who may be alive even now, in an attempt to stop any future surges and discover what truly happened to those involved with The Lima Project.
Led by a resolute and excellent Brad Pitt, Ad Astra is a piece that, while taking its time, becomes an incredible epic with a true sense of loneliness, emptiness, and an affinity for deep thought. From its love of the expansiveness that cinema offers, to relating that to one man’s struggle with the wider world, how it affects him and his own struggles with thoughts inside his head, Ad Astra becomes an impossibly intricate take on what it means to be human. The film may be set multiple years in the future, but the message it wants to convey is one of utmost importance to the modern day.
The effects are magnificently absorbing, and the story offers a true ‘Apocalypse Now’ type plot line with an endless deluge of ideas and fascinating characters. As McBride learns the truth of his past, the film opens further and deepens its themes, searching into what makes us human, setting us apart from other beings, with incidents not always resulting in the outcomes we expect.
Grey has written and directed a masterpiece that not only opens the corner of space cinema to new, human levels, but it shows how immaculate blockbuster pictures can be, without focusing on explosions and violence. The internal struggles of humanity provides enough substance for any piece, and Ad Astra taps into that so incredibly well.
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