Ad Astra

A space odyssey with a very human touch - 8/10

by Movies-Graded

Performances: 5/5
Screenplay: 4/5
Special Effects: 5/5
Costumes/Makeup: 5/5
Editing: 4/5
Cinematography: 4/5
Score/Soundtrack: 5/5

Verdict: These are fascinating times we live in. Times in which space exploration is being done through movies more than anything else (with films such as "Interstellar", "Gravity", "The Martian" or "High Life"). And James Gray's "Ad Astra" may be the one that presented that exploration in the most realistic of ways.
The film's narrative shares a lot of similarities with "Apocalypse Now". In it, Brad Pitt proved for the second time this year that he's undoubtedly one of the best actors alive. His nuanced performance as astronaut Roy McBride is as cold and empty as the nothingness surrounding him, and yet he managed to showcase a vast range of emotions through it. The film can definitely be described as a space epic, but it also feels very intimate and even to some extent philosophical, as it deals heavily with the theme of loneliness. Technically, Max Richter's score was fantastic and Hoyte Van Hoytema's cinematography, while not being phenomenal, did present us with some of the most beautiful shots of the year. The special effects were flawlessly executed and blended extremely well with the practical sets. I definitely recommend watching this film on the biggest screen possible.
I cannot, however, call "Ad Astra" a masterpiece as I did sense that it contained a few scenes that felt either convenient or a little out of place. The excessive narration was also a burden on Pitt's acting, which loses some of its weight when he's explaining to the audience what's going through his mind. I also wish that the film's final act was developed a little more to have a stronger impact than it did.
"Ad Astra" remains one of the finest films of the year so far and one I definitely will be revisiting in the future. The scale of it is infinite and yet it manages to feel very personal and small. It'll definitely be in the conversation come award season.

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