I was hesitant to see Ad Astra. I saw the trailer before several films and couldn’t really determine what it was about. So, it wasn’t a priority. Then, I had two friends say something about the film: one raved about it and the other asked what the hell it was about. Turns out Ad Astra is a beautifully shot film about daddy issues, which is underwhelming.
This is one of those films that thinks it’s smarter or more clever than it actually is. For instance, the title comes from the Latin phrase “Per Aspera Ad Astra”, meaning “through hardships to the stars”. When taking this into consideration when watching the film, or before seeing the film, it feels like a no brainer. There are emotional difficulties that Brad Pitt’s character, Roy McBride, has to deal with and he does so by literally going to the edges of our solar system, where his father may still be. The phrase becomes quite literal and, honestly, I hate that.
Throughout the film, there were two or three other stories that would have been much more interesting to tell. Off the top of my head, a story that dives more into countries fighting over unclaimed territory on the moon, or the colonies established both on the moon and on Mars. They could have also told the story of the research mission that sends out a “mayday” call. All of those storylines would have been more interesting than Roy being emotionally damaged and searching for his father.
Seeing that the only characteristic Roy McBride seems to have is that he has daddy issues, the character is one dimensional. In fact, most characters in this film are one dimensional. The most infuriating lack of backstory is for the character of Eve, played by Liv Tyler. Her character exists solely to be the wife of Roy. We know very little else about her. And things like that just come off as lazy writing. A character that does not exist outside of another is not a character. It’s a plot device.
Ad Astra very much reminds me of the film Gravity. The film is beautiful to watch and the score is phenomenal. However, the story line is mediocre, at best, with Ad Astra’s story bordering on boring. And, if I hadn’t seen the film in IMAX on a large screen, I would have absolutely fallen asleep.
*All photos property of FOX