AD Astra – As good as promised, or a lot of empty void?

When I saw the trailer for this film – I had to go see it. I can cannot stress how I really, really wanted to like this film. I had in my mind an Interstellar – esque feel with an original story line. I had no idea what to expect really. What follows is a short breakdown, there are some spoilers but I haven’t spoiled everything.

The film starts well enough, Brad Pitt’s man character Roy McBride is pushed off a space structure by a mysterious energy wave and down to Earth. The scene is pretty dramatic and not a million miles away from a factual jump carried out in 2007 by Felix Baumgartner.

Moving the story forward a mission that Roy’s father was leading falls under suspicion as the cause. This mission called the Lima Project was sent out to the outer solar system 26 years ago to look for life beyond Earth. Nothing was heard from the Lima Project for 16 years after it reached Neptune and was presumed destroyed.

Now it looks like it may have survived and Roy McBride is sent out to Mars to make contact with his father. Typically Roy is very unemotional, but loses the plot after he suspects details are being hidden from him and despite being taken off the mission manages to get aboard the spacecraft bound for Neptune.

What’s the film about?

For me this is hard to say, all I can say really is that it’s about one man’s yearning for his father’s love and acceptance and how obsession has kept them apart and essentially affected both their lives and relationship.

Sure there’s a save the world aspect to this but there isn’t ever really a sense of urgency about this.

Apparently the director James Gray wanted to create a movie that depicted the most realistic depiction that’s been put into a space movie yet. For me I don’t think he achieved that and 2001 still holds that mantle despite being 50 years old although some movies like Interstellar and the Martian have been on a per but maybe not as detailed.

Scientific Inaccuracies

This is where I really, really think the film was let down.
1) Why did Roy have to go to Mars to make a phone call to his dad?
2) The messages being sent by laser (which still travels at the speed of light) from Mars to Neptune were depicted to get an immediate response.

As well as these there were numerous ‘little bits’ that added to the swarf of inaccuracy that really took something away from the realism that James Gray was trying to achieve.

What Else?

There were meant to be epic scenes in this film… hmm.. a passing shot of Jupiter and Saturn were given but there could have been more to it I feel. In a similar way that this was given in Interstellar. The depiction of Neptune was very good I have to admit, but there was something that kept me from feeling the realism.

Part of the issue I feel is that the story pace was rushed, possibly to make sure that audiences didn’t fall asleep. But that pace needed to slow, for the sake of the realism that was trying to be captured. I agree that it wouldn’t probably have been a hit if the pace / realism was worked on but then this wasn’t a big selling film anyway.

I really didn’t get the moon buggy fight scene either, it felt a bit like they threw it in to give some oomph after they looked at what they had and thought ‘meh’ but I may be wrong.

(Spoiler in this bit)
Something else that seems to have caught my attention is that human life now seems pretty cheap, between Moon marauders, lost Norwegian crews killed by killer moneys and all that there was a pretty significant body count that was thrown off as – yeah, some more guys have died. But in a way that kind of feeds into the final message in the film of ‘All we have are each other’.

What was good about it?

The concept, story and potential was great. That’s why I had high hopes for this. It saddens me to say but it just didn’t deliver. I really, really wish it had, I think it could have as well.

But the film I have to say was interesting, the world created for this story was set in the not too distant future looks at the commercialisation and exploration of space in a big way. All nations seem to be in on the action it’s humanity’s new frontier.

There were a number of EVA (spacewalk) scenes and I have to say they were pretty well done and pretty realistic. However I’m not sure gaffa tape over a broken helmet visor would survive the rigours of space. That was a little silly and maybe pinched from the Martian?

In Summary

I don’t need to say much more, the jist of it all is already here. I really hate to be negative about something like this as time, money, effort of many people have been put into a film.

I’m not saying they have done a terrible job, just that something seems to be in the way of being the great film it could have been.

No ownership claimed on Images – Taken from Google

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6 thoughts on “AD Astra – As good as promised, or a lot of empty void?

  1. This is basically how I felt about the movie as well. I thought the film was good at setting a mood, especially with the music. But overall, I feel like everything this movie was trying to do, 2001: A Space Odyssey did better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SF films….hmmmmm?

    Ever since ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, followed by ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ and also ‘2001 a Space Odyssey’ film directors have tried to get ‘The Deeper Message Behind The Message’ across. Sometimes it works, sometimes it gets lost in the Imagery, sometimes it breaks completely out of the gravity of the project and goes spinning off.

    Maybe this is why ‘The Star Wars’ franchise works so well. Good old ‘Space Opera’

    Anyway it’s good informative review Simon, better than I would get in any journal paper or ‘net’


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