On a Tuesday night, I decided to once again see a film that made tremendous buzz. For those that want to know about the film, I suggest not to come with lots of questions or with a mind that thinks Brad Pitt will be violently heroic. “Ad Astra,” separate from known science fiction films of “Interstellar” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” delves into a complex so deep that neither I, nor most viewers, could comprehend its meaning.
Before I go into the film, there are some plot lines that might be spoiled. You are forewarned!
Prior to seeing this film, I pondered about the title and what it meant. The words “Ad Astra” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “to the stars.” This meaning is derived from Virgil, a Roman poet. The full text from Virgil reads, “Per aspera ad astra,” which when translated, is “through hardships to the stars.” In essence to the film, there is some sense of struggle clearly exemplified throughout. Even I struggled to comprehend the films moral point.
Starring Brad Pitt as Major Roy McBride, the film’s plot takes a dive into outer space in search of Clifford H. McBride, played by Tommy Lee Jones. To me, a film that tackles a complicated issue like life is sort of good and bad. For those that are philosophers, pondering on life has always been a debate. Without spoiling anything, the film does use flashbacks and Roy’s inner thoughts to detail out his true purpose in the universe. To me, Roy’s existential purpose sounds similar to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” as well as some tint of Homer’s “Odyssey.” However, contrast to Kubrick’s film and Homer’s epic poem, Roy does not become an infant, rather he becomes a man seeking to find his own destiny as he tackles the issue of his dad and his plans.
Along with a complex plot, the film does well in having a well-known cast list. I was surprised to see actress Ruth Negga in the film, since the last time I saw her was from American Movies Classic (AMC) series “Preacher.” Along with Donald Sutherland as Colonel Pruitt, the filmmakers nailed on having a drama-type film filled with great actors.
After I saw the film in its entirety, I felt there were a lot of pros to this film than cons. For starters, the special effects blew me away at how the film presents space. I ponder if they had to do background research from NASA to have some sense of what the filmmakers were trying to make. Also, the diverse cast list was extraordinary and a deeply written plot to boot.
The drawback that the film had was the exact runtime. There were a few scenes where I felt that it should be cut, such as the amount of travel it took for Roy to get to his father. On the other hand, the film’s pace probably made sense since it was after all a space film, and not some one hour flick.
Plus, the film did not include a lot of action scenes. Do not get me wrong, Brad Pitt does face off minor groups of bad guys, but it is not a high body count film. If anyone is looking for a film that has Brad Pitt taking out a lot of people, I suggest “Troy” or “Inglourious Basterds.” These films not only have a lot of action in them, but also do not need you as a moviegoer to think about the films’ plot at all. Lastly, there were only one or two jump scenes in the film. I personally felt the film was going with an “Alien” vibe due to the amount of isolation space, but that phase drifted into obscurity.
Personally, if I wanted to see “Ad Astra” again, I would probably see it with somebody other than myself to gather the main gist of the storyline. Despite its two-hour long runtime, problems with high body count deaths and jump scares, the film was successful in creating a different perspective of life’s goal in space. Overall, I definitely recommend this film to anyone looking for a deep science-fiction film.
Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year student majoring in history. NB790429@wcupa.edu