I might have enjoyed Ad Astra personally but I still stand in solidarity with the three young fellows that abandoned it mid-screening at the viewing I attended. It’s definitely not for everyone. Without doubt it’s greatest quality is its aesthetic - it might just be the best looking sci-fi film since 2001. And I liked the fact that the makers had the chutzpah to make an intense character study that just so happens to be set in space, rather than a film about space featuring badly drawn characters.
Brad Pitt is great in the lead role, which is immediately more impactful than anything he’s churned out for Quentin Tarantino in the last decade. I’m not sure if the film needed his character to provide a voiceover as well but, hey ho, it kind of works. The film’s distinct lack of other meaningful characters means Ad Astra is ALWAYS laser-focused on its leading man. I’d have liked to know more about his wife (played by Liv Tyler) but it’s hard to criticise James Gray when the film is unapologetically one-dimensional.
It’s clear to see that this is a deep analysis of patriarchy, the age old father-son axis and whether the actions or ‘sins of the father’ are destined to shape the future of his offspring. In that respect, I empathised a lot with the story and thought it did a great job at trying to pick apart the psyche of someone who is so desperately afraid of history repeating itself.
Whether there’s enough to sustain viewers who can’t relate to that is I guess the main reason why Ad Astra seems to be quite divisive amongst the general cinema-goer. But I certainly saw more to like than dislike and will definitely keep an eye out for the director’s future work.