Brad Pitt soars in career defining “Ad Astra”

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Hubble telescope estimates there are 100 billion galaxies in our universe. Outer space is an inconceivable, infinite place.

Ad Astra is Latin for “looking to the stars,” which has been a sign of hope on our Earth, a symbol of a kind of goal for humanity to achieve. We’ve been looking for life outside of Earth for so long.

What happens if we figure out that there is no other life? What if we’re all alone in our galaxy?

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is struggling in “Ad Astra.” His father (Tommy Lee Jones) left Roy when he was 16 to search for alien life at the edge of our galaxy. Roy’s wife has left him. He has no friends in the space program. He is just a machine with no true goal. He’s stopped struggling with his depression and now, he’s just living. He’s alone, just like humanity.

When the space program comes to McBride with news of his father’s survival on Neptune, McBride does not know what to feel. He just knows that he needs to see his father again. Maybe he’ll finally feel something.

The movie “Alien” was released in 1979 with the tagline “in space no one can hear you scream.” In “Ad Astra,” apparently no one can see your pain either. In a lot of ways, Brad Pitt’s character is screaming for help.

With every fiber of his soul, he wants to help people so that they see him. He can get people out of the most difficult situations. He can fight space pirates, but he also has to fight his thoughts of worthlessness.

That’s depression for many people. It’s an inner struggle that you just can’t escape, no matter how much you want out.

“Ad Astra” is a slow-moving movie. Almost in the vein of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” there are scenes in the film that merely show off the sheer beauty of space. That beauty, in all forms, is a testament to what McBride truly wants. He hopes that one day he won’t feel so alone. “I am looking forward to the day my solitude ends,” Pitt narrates at one point of the movie. We all hope for that same thing, right?

Recently the sci-fi genre has been groundbreaking with its cinematography. Movies such as “Annihilation” (2018), “Arrival” (2016), “Interstellar” (2013) and “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) are beautifully shot.

Sci-fi is a genre that is truly able to revolutionize the way we look at films, and “Ad Astra” keeps that trend going. The film studies themes of solitude and depression not just through the story, but through the lens of the camera. “Ad Astra” follows McBride’s journey through the stars in an isolating and gorgeous fashion.

With Pitt’s subtle performance of McBride’s struggles, to director James Gray’s fantastic direction with the story, I couldn’t stop thinking about “Ad Astra” hours after leaving the theater. It’s a deep, powerful sci-fi film that will remain relevant for years to come.

Rating: A

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