Ad Astra is a sci-fi adventure that proves to be a terrific combination of dazzling visuals, incredible performances from Brad Pitt and a supporting cast that embraces the material. This is actually one of the more introspective movies of the genre.
Pitt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut assigned on a special mission into space to locate his long-lost father (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared 16 years earlier.
The U.S. Space Command tells McBride that his father was conducting experiments that went horribly wrong and their hope is that he can bring his father home and explain his actions.
We do get a lot of backstory on the history between McBride and his father and we learn that the latter abandoned his son and his mother in favor of finding intelligent life in the universe. Old wounds come back to haunt Roy who has a devastating relationship with his wife (Liv Tyler).
The movie is loaded with some sensational scenes including one where the moon has been colonized and is pretty much run nearly like a shopping mall. Another scene involving Pitt climbing a gigantic space tower at the beginning of the film is nothing short of breathtaking.
Ad Astra may end up being a little too character driven and filled with too much heady ideals for some audiences, but I admired that about the movie.
The movie deals with relationships between children and parents as well as the spouses and uses outer space as a means to reestablish. Pitt and Jones deliver outstanding work in the scenes they’re in as we find out why Jones left him at an early age and their attempts at reconciliation are authentic.
Movies about space travel have certainly become a lot more ambitious and complex since the days of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” After “Gravity,” “Interstellar,” “The Martian,” and even “First Man,” “Ad Astra” belongs in their leagues.
It has visual splendor to go along with its ideas and it always leaves us wanting to go into the stratosphere.
(Rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language.)