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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