Ad Astra

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Wick's Review

Created Oct 02, 2019 04:58AM PST • Edited Nov 02, 2019 09:42PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Brad Pitt has his own great astronaut movie now, as every one of today’s great moviestars must.1 Ad Astra is a stately space epic, albeit punctuated with an atomic blast and more than a few death-defying set pieces. Most impressively, James Gray’s instant classic reinforces our conception of heroism even as it challenges it, personifying that dichotomy with a never better Brad Pitt and the always great Tommy Lee Jones.

    This character study of an iconic right-stuff astronaut focuses on his frequent psychological self-examinations, a clear nod to how we moviegoers are psychologically beholden to Big Tech via our personal devices. Thus it checks the Ground Control to Major Tom box in speaking to earthbound audiences. It is further relatable by avoiding Deep Space, plus deserves credit for cinematically pioneering routine travel and colonization of Mars and Neptune, the latter of which is about as far as you can go in our Solar System.

    Finally, an observation about the moviestar artistry of Brad Pitt. I’ve long asserted that real moviestars can act with their eyes only — how they move them, where they look. Pitt in Ad Astra ups the ante by holding his gaze steady even as a small artery pulses in his lower lid. He deserves an Oscar for that feat alone.


    1 In descending order, Tom Hanks has Apollo 13, Sandra Bullock Gravity, Sam Rockwell MOON, Matt Damon The Martian, Matthew McConaughey Interstellar & Ryan Gosling First Man. Brad Pitt now moves into the upper echelon with Ad Astra.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    The Brad Pitt canon has another chapter – SpaceCom Major Roy McBride – populated by an inimical icon of American manhood known as Brad Pitt. See the Summary conclusion above for one pulsing proof point.

    • Tommy Lee Jones is ideally cast as Brad’s dad, the most legendary astronaut of them all.
    • Ruth Negga underwhelms, as she does.
    • Liv Tyler also underwhelms, as she does.
    • Donald Sutherland does his lip smacking thing.
    • John Ortiz is less notable than usual.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0

    Brad Pitt

  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5

    Tommy Lee Jones is perfect, Donald Sutherland great and the rest really good.

  8. Really Great 4.5

    James Gray deserves more than one Oscar nom for producing, co-writing and directing Ad Astra. This is no surprise as he’s been a great filmmaker going back at least to The Immigrant in 2014.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Really Great 4.5
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5

    Visually outstanding, with space action the likes of which have never been seen, which is really saying something.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.8
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Brutal 2.7
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Surreal 2.5

    The supernatural circoreality score isn’t because of any supernatural beings, but rather supernatural circumstances, like using a salvaged piece of metal as an asteroid shield. Only in the movies…

  19. Circumstantial Supernatural 3.7
  20. Biological Glib 2.0
  21. Physical Glib 1.7

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