Ad Astra is being described as a mixture of Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Expectations could not be any less realistic. But hey, James Gray is directing so anything is possible.
There are six reasons eagerly to look forward to Ad Astra and lead actor Brad Pitt is not one of those six. Little Odessa, The Yards, We Own the Night, Two Lovers, The Immigrant, and The Lost City of Z: the six films that the tragedian James Gray has directed thus far were each utterly brilliant.
In Ad Astra, an autistic engineer goes in search of his father who disappeared twenty years earlier during a journey into space that sought to discover whether there are signs of intelligent life on Neptune. Brad Pitt, who gave a great performance this summer in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, stars in the lead role. He is flanked by Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, and Donald Sutherland in supporting roles. Gray is an excellent actor’s director who gets the best out of greats like Joaquin Phoenix and out of wooden blokes like Mark Wahlberg.
He has only himself to thank for the pompous and impossible comparison to Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In an interview, Gray associated his space epic with Heart of Darkness, the classic novel by Joseph Conrad that Francis Ford Coppola used as the basis for Apocalypse Now, and he has referred to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as his favourite sci-fi film.
Don’t expect a war in space. Gray is a storyteller who is not afraid to explore melancholy, dark romance, and profound tragedy. You can definitely expect beauty. Gray is a stylist who is proud of neoclassicism. This film is a collaboration with Hoyte van Hoytema, the director of photography who made Let the Right One In, Interstellar, and Dunkirk into visually stunning films.
- Ad Astra Release: 18/9