Ad Astra is a science fiction adventure produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. The Movie follows an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System. The trailers for Ad Astra indicated the film as a possible Oscar contender, which piqued my interest so I went to see the movie. I do not agree that Ad Astra is Oscar-worthy.
In the near future, Earth’s solar system is being struck by a series of mysterious power surges, threatening human life. After surviving an incident caused by a surge, Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), son of famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), is informed by U.S. Space Command (SpaceCom) that the surges have been traced to the “Lima Project” – created to search the farthest Solar System for intelligent life, under Clifford’s leadership – from whom nothing has been heard for sixteen years after reaching Neptune. Informed that Clifford may still be alive, Roy accepts a mission to travel to Mars to try to establish communication with him, joined by his father’s old associate Colonel Pruitt (Donald Sutherland).
**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****
Once on the moon, Roy transfers to the ship, Cepheus, that takes him to Mars. The ship receives a distress signal from a Norwegian biomedical research space station that seems abandoned, but a baboon test subject escaped, killing the captain of the Cepheus before being neutralized by Roy. Another baboon attacks, but Roy locks it in a module and depressurizes the chamber, killing it instantly. The Cepheus lands on Mars as a surge hits, forcing manual intervention. The interim captain is too afraid to fly, leaving Roy to land the ship. Upon landing, Roy is taken to the underground SpaceCom base where he meets facility director Helen Lantos (Ruth Negga) and is tasked with recording voice messages to send to the Lima Project, in hopes Clifford will respond. During a recording, Roy goes off-script with an emotional appeal to his father and is abruptly taken off the mission, presuming a response has been heard and his personal connection poses a risk to himself and the mission’s success.
Kept in a “comfort room”, awaiting expedition back to Earth, Roy is visited by Helen, who reveals she was born on Mars and the daughter of Lima Project crew-members. She shows Roy classified footage revealing that Clifford’s crew mutinied by trying to return to Earth, leading him to turn off their life-support systems and that her parents were among the crew killed. She tells Roy that the crew that brought him to Mars are leaving to destroy the Lima Project base with a nuclear payload. The two decide that Roy should confront Clifford himself, and Helen sneaks Roy to an underground lake beneath the rocket launch site. From this point, Ad Astra gets somewhat interesting. I’m stopping here as not to spoil any more of the movie.
Ad Astra made me feel tired and a little bored. It is as though the movie was filmed in slow motion. The trailer wasn’t very clear about the film’s plot but deemed Ad Astra as one of this year’s best. While I love Brad Pitt, I didn’t love Ad Astra. It was too slow and too stretched out. The movie showed an old concept from a different perspective. Son follows in dad’s footsteps with a huge twist. There’s no relationship between them, plus a 16-year gap as dad was presumed dead after being trapped on Neptune during a failed mission. New evidence indicated life combined with a mental challenge, dad lives. Interesting but not a lot of substance causing technical fill-ins that make great special effects but little interest or excitement. Well done but boring with a predictable outcome. Considered a box office underperformer, Ad Astra has only grossed $111M to date. Skip this one or see it on DVD/Blu-ray. If Brad holds that special place in your heart and you just have to see Ad Astra, do Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged Adjutant General Amelia Vogel, Bobby Nish, brad pitt, Captain Lawrence Tanner, Chip Garnes, Colonel Pruitt, Donald Stanford, donald sutherland, Donnie Keshawarz, Eve McBride, Franklin Yoshida, General Rivas, General Stroud, Greg Bryk, H. Clifford McBride, Helen Lantos, Jamie Kennedy, John Finn, john ortiz, kimberly elise, LisaGay Hamilton, Liv Tyler, loren dean, Lorraine Deavers, Major Roy McBride, Natasha Lyonne, Peter Bello, ruth negga, Tanya Pincus, tommy lee jones
Going in Style is a 1979 remake of a totally unrealistic answer to a realistic problem in today’s society. Too bad we couldn’t all be clever enough to pull off a guilt free bank heist, (just kidding). Going in Style is also a delightful, humorous story of three senior citizens who are lifelong best buddies who are getting the shaft every where they turn. Living off their less than modest pensions, in situations that afford them little to no extras in life, they are now faced with the company they worked for all their lives being bought out, causing their pensions to become a thing of the past. Ironically, an unusual incident at the very bank that’s threatening to take what little they have, becomes the very solution to a peaceful, happy existence for these 3 old geysers and their families.
Joe Harding (Michael Caine) has a small house in which his divorced daughter, Rachael Harding (Maria Dizzia) and his granddaughter, Brooklyn, (Joey King) are living in with him. Joe has been receiving pink foreclosure notices from the bank and will have 30 days from the forthcoming red foreclosure notice that will render them homeless. Despite Joe’s x son-in law’s, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz), estrangement from his family, Joe attempts to get Murphy involved in his daughter’s life. Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) live together, directly across the street from Joe. All three belong to the usual community clubs for the elderly and do the usual senior citizen activities like food shopping, frequenting the park, eating at the senior citizen shelter and for Willie, Skyping with his daughter, Cary Sachs (Melanie Nicholls-King) and granddaughter, Kanika (Ashley Aufderheide) who he seldom gets to see because of the long distance between them and his financial situation. Willie also learns that he is in need of a Kidney and should confide in friends or family members to get one asap or prepare for his funeral. In the meanwhile, Albert is having a much easier time at life being pursued by Annie, (Ann-Margret) a beautiful senior worker at the super market where he shops.
As Joe tries to deal with his foreclosure notice at the bank, he becomes a victim and a witness to a robbery in progress, carried out by three individuals wearing black masks. When, the robbers manage to escape with over 1.5 million dollars, Joe decides this might be a way out for the three seniors. Of course the bank was no help to Joe regarding his foreclosure notice and any chance of getting their pensions reinstated was never going to happen, as they later learned the bank intended to steal their retirement. Did I mention this plot was unrealistic but still fun to watch. Here are some other actors and actresses that are definitely an excellent reason to see Going in Style: Matt Dillon as Special Agent Hamer, an FBI agent who investigates bank robberies, Christopher Lloyd as Milton, the guys’ lodge buddy, Annabelle Chow as Lucy, the child witness, Kenan Thompson as Keith, a grocery store manager, Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Mitzi and John Ortiz as Jesus, a man of unspecified credentials who agrees to show the guys the ropes. Well done — no need to pick this one apart — just enjoy it for what it is, entertaining and funny!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged alan arkin, albert, ann-margaret, annabelle chow, annie, ashley aufderheide, brooklyn, cary sachs, christopher lloyd, going in style, hamer, Jesus, joe harding, joey king, john ortiz, kanika, keith, kenan thompson, lucy, maria dizzia, matt dillon, melanie, michael caine, milton, mitzi, morgan freeman, murphy, nicholls-king, peter serafinowicz, rachael harding, siobhan fallon hogan, willie