James Gray, head of Z, The Lost City, returns next September 20 with Ad Astra, a sci-fi thriller starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Liv Tyler. This film takes us to a near future in which humanity has left in search of extraterrestrial intelligent life to the limits of our solar system. This is how Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), the astronaut's son in charge of the space exploration (Tommy Lee Jones), who lives tormented by the loss of his father 16 years ago after disappearing his ship when he arrives in Neptune.
Of course, Roy will be forced to face his fears and his past in Ad Astra since the United States Government entrusts him with the mission of departing to the limits of the solar system in search of his father, who could have given signs of stay alive, and a solution to a problem that threatens to destroy all humanity.
Thus begins a journey through space and Roy's mind because, Ad Astra is not a science fiction film to use, but a study on the fragility of the human mind and on the fears of loneliness of the individual.
James Gray knows how to present this metaphysical study through his film, something he does both with what we see on screen and with what we hear. And it is that the essence of Ad Astra lies more in the constant messages that Brad Pitt's character leaves us through the voice-over than of what happens before our eyes.
That said, do not underestimate the interpretation of Pitt since in Ad Astra is the real protagonist, appearing on the screen from minute one to the last and giving a new lesson in interpretation in what some are already cataloging as 'rebirth' of the actor.
And, Pitt knows how to convey Roy's emotions at all times, making us see that he is a traumatized character who has had to learn to live without a father and hiding, and controlling, his feelings at all times. It would not be unusual to find the good Brad Pitt among the Oscar nominees as best actor for his performance in this film.
With all this, you will have already realized that Ad Astra is not the typical modern space opera. We are facing a film closer to 2001 An Odyssey in Space with Apocalypse Now dyes than Valerian and the city of a thousand planets or any other. Ad Astra is a slow movie, which must be digested and that can bore the most adventurous, but that is not heavy at all if you are patient.
This does not mean that Ad Astra has no action, some exciting scenes help the plot progress and put a bit of adrenaline in the body. Highlights in this regard are the opening scene of the movie and the chase of buggies on the moon that is already shown in the trailer, but others, such as one with certain animals, are difficult to digest because of the little they contribute to development. And, when Ad Astra needs speed, James Gray gives it to us and makes us feel inside the action with some first-person planes from inside the scuba of Roy's suit that takes away the hiccups.
In this sense, Ad Astra's photography is worth admiring. Both when we are shown open landscapes and when we travel to lunar or Martian facilities, everything is focused and framed with care. Each shot of this film seems to have been studied in detail so that the immersion experience is complete and so that there are no unnecessary distractions.
Gray wants us to pay attention to the dialogues and voiceover of Roy's mind, and he succeeds. Its 124 minutes fly by, despite its slow development, and when the screen melts to black so that the final credits begin, all that can be done is to reflect on what has just been seen. And, Ad Astra achieves its goal, that we ask ourselves why we feel alone.
Everyone may not like it, but Ad Astra has all the ballots to become a cult movie. And not only within the genre of science fiction because, we insist, even if we are facing a space odyssey, its message does not focus on the vastness of space or extraterrestrial life, but on what happens inside the human being's head.
If you expect a thrilling movie, full of action, spaceships, and clashes with laser guns, Ad Astra is not for you. James Gray wants to reflect and looks into the recesses of the human mind. In this movie, you will find dialogue, a lot of dialogue, but his speech fills. Also, you will find one of the best versions of Brad Pitt, able to eclipse Tommy Lee Jones himself, and you will enjoy a visual experience that will make you feel that you are really in space. It may not be perfect and have hit as your pace, but it is a trip worth doing.