Alright so I saw this movie last weekend and I had to give it a proper review due to the fact that the people I saw it with did not see this film the same way I did. When the credits rolled I turned to my friend and exclaimed confidently, “loved it”, to which he replied “are you serious? That was terrible.” I was completely confused at this response but the other two with me were clearly on the fence, and almost seemed like they needed to be persuaded either direction. After I shared my thoughts I convinced one of them that the movie was great. The other, not so much. Either way lets dive in so we can determine why I’m right and my friends are just not intellectual enough to see the movie for what it’s worth.
I shouldn’t even have to say it but if you’re going into a movie review, there are going to be spoilers. But, I’ll do the right thing and put in bold and all caps that THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR AD ASTRA BEYOND THIS POINT. Now that we’ve washed our hands of any responsibility for ruining the movie, we can truly begin.
If you’re looking for an action-packed movie from start to finish, or for Brad Pitt to storm the beach of Troy and take his shirt off, this isn’t the movie you’re looking for. What this movie is is a look inside a conflicted mind of a man that is trying to figure out what his priorities are, how to cope with the past, and what kind of man he wants to be. The movie clearly makes this point in the very first scene, which finds Roy McBride (Pitt), a life-long astronaut like his father before him, taking a psych evaluation. His voiceover in the background answers questions in a calm, measured manner, with calculated answers that lead to a successful evaluation. The film continues with voiceovers throughout the entire process, often interrupting Roy’s own conversations. That is, once again, because the main conflict of this movie takes place in the mind of Roy McBride.
Roy is calm and unwavering. We see this in the first scene when a space station is falling apart and he calmly assesses the situation, free falling for miles before deploying his parachute. It is noted by those who come to his aid that his heart rate never rises to even uncomfortable levels, as Roy has clearly trained for years to keep his emotions at bay. We see the first crack in his calm attitude when Roy is informed that his father, a NASA legend who he long thought to be dead, may be alive and causing a cosmic disturbance that could potentially threaten and eliminate Earth. This starts the change in Roy, he starts questioning his father, his own past actions (they often show flashbacks to his wife that he has clearly separated from), and who he wants to become.
Roy is asked to attempt to communicate with his father. He is given a script to read in hope that his father will answer from Neptune, his last known location where he was stationed to attempt to find and communicate with life outside of the solar system. Eventually, after being unsuccessful through many attempts, Roy goes off script and makes an emotional plea to his father, tearing up in the process and showing for the first time a truly human Roy McBride. This attempt is successful, and while a trip is planned to go see his father, Roy is determined to be unfit for the journey due to his emotional connection.
Obviously there’s not movie if Roy doesn’t go, so thankfully Roy gets some help sneaking onto the ship, killing 3 idiots that try to stop him instead of just letting him on when he asked. Honestly this part is hugely disappointing, because Roy had previously saved the lives of these aforementioned idiots, and they should’ve just let him on. Regardless, Brad makes a 70+ day journey himself, and unsurprisingly starts slipping into a temporary insanity. More voiceovers tell us his thoughts during the process, and I found it to be exceedingly interesting looking inside the mind of someone who is already going through an existential crisis, and is now cut off from human interaction for over 2 months.
Once Roy gets to Neptune he finds his father alive and unwilling to leave. In the climactic conversation of the film, Roy’s father admits that NASA and his mission to find other life is all that matters to him, and that his son, Roy, Roy’s mother, and everyone else in his life were simply not as important as this mission. With a tear Roy realizes that this is not the man he wants to become. All of his questioning has led to this realization, and Brad Pitt nails the emotion here as he calmly persuades his father to accompany him back to his ship. Of course his father is crazy and tries to basically take Roy with him as he has no interest in returning home. He tells Roy to let him go, which Roy very begrudgingly obliges. Roy then heroic shoots through the rings of Neptune to get back to his ship, and makes his way home, determined to be a better man than his father.
I’ll brush past the fact that Roy apparently has zero repercussions for murdering multiple crew members when he returns home. Apparently the writers or director had no interest in making a big deal about it so neither will I. To be fair the main plot is in Roy’s psyche anyway, so it’s not too important. The final scene has Roy meeting his wife with the clear intention of reconciliation. He is finally ready to become a better man, leaving behind the single-minded astronaut and embracing the life of an emotional man, perhaps a supporting husband.
So if you’ve seen the movie or are looking to see the movie, I hope you understand what the message, plot, and conflict really is. The action, and there is plenty, is not the main attraction. The main attraction is watching Brad Pitt brilliantly play the character of Roy McBride, and showing us the struggle of becoming who you were meant to be.
If you don’t like it, the last Star Wars movie of the new awful trilogy comes out soon so that will be some solid action to cover up the awful story, gaping plot holes, and terrible characters.