I, like most of you probably, enjoy movies. I have gone to the theater to watch hundreds of films. Some I’ve loved. Some, not so much. But few movies have ever left me as puzzled, confused and just utterly dumbfounded as Ad Astra.
Honestly, I just got out of the theater about an hour ago and I’m still trying to figure out what I just watched. I’m going to do my best to share my thoughts on the movie. Some will be positive. A lot will be negative. But mostly, I’m just confused.
Ad Astra feels less like a movie and more like an overly dramatic episode of Cosmos. It certainly is visually stunning. The movie is filled with beautiful shots of space that will make you feel like you’re watching a documentary on NASA. Then somebody talks again and completely ruins that vibe.
And the person most likely to talk first is Brad Pitt’s character Roy McBride, but not by speaking to another character. No, this movie is narrated by Pitt’s inner monologue that makes the whole film feel like his audition to replace Matthew McConaughey in those Lincoln ads.
Narration aside though, Pitt actually does a fantastic job in this movie. Or at least I think he does. McBride is such a strange character that I have to assume he was written that way and it wasn’t just choices made by Pitt. McBride as completely robotic and totally relatable and, for better or worse, Pitt plays the role fantastically.
Now, because this movie is so out there (both figuratively and literally) it’s going to be hard for me to keep talking about it without at least mild spoilers. So be warned that from this point on, I’ll be revealing some minor plot points without going into too much detail.
Still here? Ok. At times, this movie is completely insane! I went in expecting a dramatic, plot-driven film with little to no action. Instead, the first hour of this film features Brad Pitt being attacked by moon pirates and space monkeys. Let me say that again just so it’s clear. MOON PIRATES AND SPACE MONKEYS!
No, those terms aren’t actually used in the movie, but that’s only because there is no context or explanation for anything in this movie. But there’s no mistaking it. This film features pirates on the moon and monkeys in space and Brad Pitt does battle with both. So, you know, do what you will with that information.
Actually, as I read that all back, I’m not entirely sure if I really saw Ad Astra or I am currently the victim of an incredibly elaborate prank.
The plot of the film (if you want to call it that) focuses on McBride embarking on a mission to Neptune to find his long-lost father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, whom he believed to be dead. The story seems to have a frame that could lead to some incredibly emotional moments, but because all of the characters are so robotic and not at all relatable, there is little to no emotional attachment to them at all. To quote McBride: “why don’t I feel anything?”
Actually, the one relatable and likeable character is Helen Lantos, played by Ruth Negga, but unfortunately, she only gets maybe 10 minutes of screentime at most.
The story only progresses because of characters doing complete 180s on their beliefs at the drop of a hat. For example, even after McBride is given the mission to find his father, he explains that he still believes him to be dead. Then, after being asked to contact him, without even a shred of proof that he is alive, he suddenly becomes determined to find him. Keep in mind, this is just one example. There are plenty more but I can’t go into detail without spoiling the movie.
The best part of the movie is the fantastic and yet somewhat dystopian future it creates. Humans now live on multiple planets in our solar system, the moon has become the futuristic equivalent of the Atlanta airport, a blanket and pillow cost $125 during commercial space travel and there are, and I cannot stress this enough, MOON PIRATES AND SPACE MONKEYS!
Despite all of that craziness, the movie is done in a very artistic way and not at all to be taken as a joke or even as fun. That is evident from the fact that there is not a single laugh and barely even a smile from any character in the film. And from what I saw in the theater, the same goes for the audience.
I give Ad Astra 1 and a half out of five MOON PIRATES AND/OR SPACE MONKEYS.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”