Ad Astra (2019)

This was the perfect movie for me at this time, it’s just what I needed. The last film I watched was so bad it almost put me off the concept of film, and the concept of enjoying things. This film put me back on track. It’s glorious as fuck. It looks magnificent, there’s not even a single second where you don’t buy into everything you watch on screen. I was sold in the opening scene when a space station blew up and people plummeted to earth (horrific way to die when you think about it by the way) and the way it looked meant this scene which could just look like a standard action scene, instead looked as terrifying as it would be in real life. Really, think of how that scene would play out in most films; it would be loud, lots of screaming, but you won’t feel anything. You’d be very aware you’re watching a movie and that there is no suffering on screen. This is the opposite, you feel everything that happens.

It’s not just the visuals, the sound work is great too. Well not just the sound, the use of silence too. Far too many films are scared of silence or don’t utilise it properly. When it’s used effectively it’s one of the best tricks in a filmmakers arsenal. This is doubly so in two specific genres; horror and sci-fi. The sound of silence can really help drive home isolation and nothingness. We’re so used to some form of background noise that complete silence is incredibly unnerving to experience, in a good way.

Now onto the bad; I felt this movie was lacking emotional depth. There’s a moment at the end which is supposed to be a huge emotional moment but for whatever reason, it didn’t really hit home. I think it might be because the entire film was building towards something happening, and then it did happen it wasn’t executed very well and just seemed kind of bland. Also, the narration was unnecessary.

There were also a few moments where it dragged slightly. Not as much as you’d think though. It’s a long film, and A LOT of the film is just padding, but it kind of works as these are the moments where the film breaths and truly comes into its own. Some of the wasteful scenes do highlight another problem with this film; disposable side characters. Brad Pitt’s character is undoubtedly the main character, but that would be a weird film to watch for two hours, so the film brings in side characters for very brief moments. Sometimes they just tell him “your dad killed my parents” and then help him on his way, sometimes they worked with his dad years before they had an argument and stopped talking, and sometimes they want him to detonate a bomb on a planet to kill his dad. Either way, these characters all only appear for a few minutes and then are never referred to again. Also, it’s kind of weird how his entire character is his dad, even in terms of how other people relate to him. Look at all those characters I just described, they’re all focused around his dad, not him. As such he doesn’t really get chance to develop much of a character, I realise that could be the point to show how we live in the shadow of the sins of those that came before us, but the character spends most of the film on his own, it’s important he is well defined and this just about doesn’t manage it.

So in summary, see this, and see it a cinema, it’s what it deserves. This film is crying out for a big screen and immersive experience. And it’s great to see Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland again. Side note; Donald Sutherland would be a great voice for an animated movie.

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Let’s See You Do Better (Update #1)

So, last month I posted this. So since writing the opening scene, what have I done? To be honest, nowhere near as much as I feel I should have done. Still kind of finding the rhythm of what this story is. The main thing is I still need to plan out who the main characters are. I’ve got ideas for set pieces and general plot etc, but the characters will be what makes it work. So far I’ve got some ideas. One is Bruce and Carol. Carol is a middle-aged single mother who starred in some low budget horror movies in her youth. Bruce is her teenage son. This is what that leads to:

Nightmare Carol

I’m going to set up the abuse throughout the film. Decided on this because it’s not really something that’s seen that much in horror films, not in that way anyway. When we do see a parent sexually abusing a child it’s a father abusing his daughter, I wanted to showcase the horror of when the genders are flipped. I’m considering making Bruce one of the main characters, have him kind of bring Freddy back by striking a deal; he’ll scare his friends by telling them the stories of Freddy, leaving them more open to Freddy’s influence and danger. In return, Freddy will stop Bruce’s recurring nightmares. Essentially like a mafia protection racket. That scene, in particular, will be used to kick off the third act. Bruce being in a coma will also allow me to have an absolute mindfuck of a final act.

Now onto the second scene that I’ve done. This will be about halfway through. My plan is to set up two stories; a group of children being abducted and killed by Freddy when he was alive in the past (so essentially a slasher movie mixed with IT), and the same kids when they’re older being haunted by Freddy in their dreams. The two stories will run alongside each other, leading to this:

The Death Of Freddy

So yeah, I lie. It’s not actually them, it’s someone elses memory. I’m not going to lie, this is mainly because I was fed up with the number of horror films that have flashbacks of the main characters near death, I hate them as you know the characters are not going to die so the scenes have no tension. I’m going to set up the truth subtly, so characters we establish as having no siblings in the present, will have a brother/sister in the past, and characters who are allergic to certain things will be seen eating them in the past. The main focus of this section though; the death of human Freddy. My plan for this was to have it go from “yeah, get that bastard” to “this is kind of uncomfortable”. I think I can go slightly further with what happens to him, but not certain.