‘Ad Astra’ attracts specific niche audiences

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What in the world is “Ad Astra”? What does that mean? Why would I watch this movie? These are all questions that I was asking myself when I was standing in the movie theater and saw its poster hanging on the wall.
From the poster, all I could make out was that it starred Brad Pitt and that it took place in space. This, apparently, was enough to get my butt in a seat, because I found myself curiously optimistic as I went to see “Ad Astra” over the weekend.
To answer my main question, ad astra comes from a Latin phrase and it means “to the stars,” and I think that this title could not be more fitting.
“Ad Astra” follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), an astronaut whose father (Tommy Lee Jones), who was presumed dead, is launching pulses of antimatter from his space station past Neptune that are disrupting many systems on Earth.
These pulses are threatening the existence of all human kind, and it is McBride’s job to get in contact with his father and stop him from doing any more damage.
On the surface, this seems like it could be a pretty straightforward action movie, but “Ad Astra” is anything but.
While there are some moments of action, “Ad Astra” is a character study at its core. This kind of drama is actually rare to see in a movie set in space, and the cosmic backdrop that “Ad Astra” plays its story in front of is a welcome change of pace, and it adds an interesting dimension to the story that I have not seen in a film before.
Throughout the film, we get a first-person narration from Pitt. This feels different from a traditional type of narration, however, and it comes across more like reading a novel from a first-person point of view.
If this makes you think of “The Martian,” you’d be kind of right, as their narration works in similar ways. But while “The Martian’s” first-person segments give insight into what Matt Damon’s character was doing and how he was feeling, Pitt’s narration in “Ad Astra” poses questions that belong moreso to the philosophical realm than the practical.
I enjoyed this addition to the story, and I felt that it was an interesting way to allow us, the audience, to get inside Pitt’s head. That being said, there were multiple times where I felt that the information given in the monologues could have been shown to the audience as opposed to told to us.
This complaint is one that I have heard a couple of times as I have read other reviews, and I think that it is a valid complaint.
The special effects of “Ad Astra” are top-notch. There was rarely a moment when I felt that the effects were taking me out of the moment of the film. If it did, it was only for a moment, and then I was back in.
In this era of special effects-heavy, hard science fiction films like “The Martian,” “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” the quality of the effects is a must.
Those films that I previously mentioned all have excellent visual effects and have set a high standard for any movie that comes after them, and “Ad Astra” does not disappoint.
The main thing that I would say to a person who is interested in watching this movie is that it is slow paced. Normally, this would be a negative thing for me when I’m thinking about whether or not I like a movie; however, for “Ad Astra,” I think that it really works well. If I was going to compare it to the pacing of a movie that is already out, I think the closest thing would be “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
This movie is not for everybody. “Ad Astra” is at its core a very serious, character-driven drama that just so happens to be set in space.
I’d like to say that if you liked movies like “The Martian” or “Interstellar” this movie may be right up your alley, but I don’t even know if that’s true.
“Ad Astra” has built its own niche in the landscape of film, and I think that if any of what I have talked about here made you interested, then you should go see this movie.
If nothing that I have said interests you in any way, shape or form, I’m gonna save you three hours and say don’t watch it.

BENJAMIN HAYLETT
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