Ad Astra review roundup: Brad Pitt film 'had a genuine wow-factor baked into its retro sci-fi aesthetic'
The artful yet accurate depiction of space in Ad Astra has been praised by most publications.
Ad Astra has created considerable buzz ever since its trailer launch in June. Co-written by James Gray (who also serves as director) and Ethan Gross, Brad Pitt stars in the sci-fi film as astronaut Roy McBride. Early reviews of the film have already begun making headlines.
Gray's efforts have been lauded by The Guardian, which feels the film has been the director's most ambitious project to date. "Gray is an established purveyor of big, brooding, ambitious cinema, from The Yards through The Immigrant to 2017’s Amazonian adventure, The Lost City of Z. But he’s never made anything as ambitious as this soaring psychological space-opera, with its cool surfaces, dark pockets and sudden flashes of violence. Ad Astra is so deadly serious that it verges on the silly; so immaculately staged and sustained that it sweeps us up in its orbit," says the publication.
Variety praises Brad Pitt's difficult-to-go-wrong performance in the film, and highlights how the star may well be having his moment under the sun, what with the spectacular feedback of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood also making buzz. "Yet what would help it more is if the movie had a genuine wow factor baked into its retro sci-fi aesthetic," opines the publication.
Empire also compliments Gray's efforts to make an authentic space experience with the film, admitting that Ad Astra has only built upon the deft finesse of Gravity in depicting space believably. "This is a future that feels recognisably familiar and deeply plausible, a world in which space travel has become commercialised, normalised, and blighted by the same overpriced pillows as the budget airline," says Empire on the cinematography.
The Hollywood Reporter's take on the film seems less celebratory. While they admit that Ad Astra may be a new benchmark for space odysseys in Hollywood, the narrative of the film is inconsistent, at least in terms of its impact on audiences. "But while less is more for the actor (Pitt), that's not necessarily the case for the movie, which tends toward the obvious and often feels adrift in a suspense-free void. Writer-director Gray's handsomely crafted planet-hopping drama is by turns vividly eventful and deliberate in its uneventfulness, and it feels caught, somewhat awkwardly, between stark simplicity, and violent leaps into hyper-drive," says THR.
Ad Astra was initially slated for release on 24 May, but was pushed to 20 September after Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox.
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