Ad Astra, directed by James Gray, starring Brad Pitt, and shot by Hoyte van Hoytema (who also shot Interstellar), is mismarketed. From the trailers, you’re promised a thrilling, epic sci-fi adventure, and while we do get some of that, Ad Astra is different. It’s a lot more contemplative, introspective, and at the same time, grand in scale. I think this plays both to its weaknesses and strengths because while we do get those phenomenal visuals and cinematography (as well another restrained, but still emotionally packed performance from Pitt after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), the film’s message takes too long to come into play and it feels meandering.
After the breathtaking first act, it slows down a great deal from the second act on, and while I understood what they were going for with the ending, I feel like it was pretty drawn out and all over the place in terms of its themes. If the (kind of underwhelming) third act was a bit more concise, this had the potential to be amazing. Nevertheless, the quality cinematography and visuals can’t be understated, and them combined with Pitt’s performance kept me invested throughout.
Ad Astra was a really interesting sci-fi journey, albeit an often slow one.