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'Ad Astra' review: Brad Pitt's meditative space drama reaches incredible heights

ad astra movie review

There is nothing groundbreaking about James Gray's "Ad Astra." At times, it feels reminiscent of films by Francis Ford Coppola, Terrence Malick, and Ridley Scott. It doesn't feel singular, but a mash-up of sorts. It excites but for the most part, completely tempered. The film plays around with big things but ironically settles for the small, intimate ones. 

A voyage established going "to the stars" is eventually trumped by its lead character's wish for self-fulfillment, and longingness for estranged bonds. This approach is what enriches "Ad Astra," one that feels foreign in Hollywood's mainstream cinema today.

It is never shy in becoming moody. Voiceovers would frequently be overlayed to move forward with its lead's catharsis. At times, this can be a distracting creative decision, but fortunately, the move fittingly complements what Gray is vying for.

"Ad Astra" is a Brad Pitt movie as it is a James Gray movie. Pitt clearly has an interesting way to reinforce his movie star stature this year, performing at his best (in a long time) here as astronaut Roy McBride and as Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino's recent "Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood." It is a restrained performance that demands a lot, which Pitt pulled off effectively.

ad astra movie review
In "Ad Astra," Brad Pitt plays astronaut Roy McBride, who goes to Mars to reconnect with his father, who has dangerous plans to our universe.

Pitt manages to humanize and sharpen an already beautiful emotional core, an element that ended up feeling genuine in its occasional preachiness. It is this positivity and hopefulness that makes “Ad Astra” an extremely likeable movie, one wherein characters would go to multitudes for a chance to reconnect and make a better change. 

“Ad Astra” is essential viewing. On my book, it might be the best film this year has yet to offer.

"Ad Astra" is now showing in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox Philippines.

*Photo credits: 20th Century Fox

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniela Feria watches movies like breakfast: treats every sight and bite as mandatory, critical, and serious. For the most part, she just wants to have fun out of the whole thing. 

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