Ad Astra is a beautifully crafted, introspective space epic that takes us on a breathtaking journey through the outer reaches of the solar system. It explores themes of isolation, loss, and the search for meaning in an indifferent universe.
A 2019 American sci-fi movie, it is produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray and stars Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland.
But what is it all about, and is it worth watching?
What Is Ad Astra About?
At its core, Ad Astra is a character study of its protagonist, Roy McBride, played with captivating subtlety by Brad Pitt (Bullet Train).
It is the late 21st century, a time of great peril as mysterious power surges threaten all human life. Major Roy McBride, a skilled astronaut, receives news that these surges are traced to the “Lima Project.” That is a mission led by his father, H. Clifford McBride, who was presumed dead.
Roy is informed that his father may be alive, and he agrees to travel to Mars to establish communication with him.
On his way to the SpaceCom base on the Moon's far side, Roy and his colleague Pruitt are ambushed by scavenger pirates. Pruitt gives Roy a message that if he fails to contact his father, the Lima Project station will have to be destroyed.
As Roy travels to Mars aboard the Cepheus, he is forced to investigate a biomedical research space station where another surge hits during the landing attempt.
Now on Mars, Roy records voice messages to send to the Lima Project in hopes that his missing father, Clifford, will respond. When Clifford does respond, SpaceCom plans a mission to the Lima Project station but instead of a rescue, it is to destroy it.
During the 79-day journey, Roy reflects on his relationship with his father and his estranged wife, Eve. But will it all end well for everybody concerned or is this a doomed expedition? Find out when you watch Ad Astra.
Ad Astra Official Trailer
Is Ad Astra Worth Watching?
Director James Gray masterfully captures the loneliness and awe-inspiring beauty of space, immersing us in a world that is both vast and claustrophobic in this science fiction film.
The film's score, composed by Max Richter, is hauntingly beautiful and perfectly complements the film's contemplative tone. The cinematography, production design, and special effects are all top-notch, creating a visually stunning and immersive deep space experience.
One of the film's strengths is its exploration of the human condition in the context of space travel.
As McBride ventures deeper into the void, he is confronted with his own mortality and the existential questions that come with it.
The film raises thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human, and what our place is in the vastness of the universe.
Despite its many strengths, Ad Astra does suffer from a somewhat slow pace, which may not appeal to all audiences.
Additionally, some of the supporting characters feel underdeveloped, leaving their motivations and actions somewhat unclear.
Overall, Ad Astra is a thought-provoking and visually stunning film that offers a fresh and introspective take on the space epic genre.
With a strong lead performance from Brad Pitt and masterful direction from James Gray, this visually thrilling journey is sure to leave a lasting impression on those who seek it out.
What Does ‘Ad Astra' Mean?
‘Ad Astra' is a Latin phrase that translates to ‘to the stars.'
It is often used in the context of space exploration and represents the human desire to reach beyond our planet and explore the mysteries of the universe.
The phrase is also commonly associated with the concept of pursuing lofty goals and aspirations, often in the face of adversity.
Ad Astra Movie Cast
Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride, a major in U.S. Space Command
Tommy Lee Jones as H. Clifford McBride, Roy's father, and the Commander of the missing Lima Project
Ruth Negga as Helen Lantos
Liv Tyler as Eve McBride, Roy's wife
Donald Sutherland as Colonel Thomas Pruitt
John Ortiz as Lieutenant General Rivas
Greg Bryk as Chip Garnes
Loren Dean as Donald Stanford
Natasha Lyonne as Tanya Pincus
LisaGay Hamilton as Adjutant General Amelia Vogel