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
Almost Christmas is funny but sad. You might be cheered up on one hand but if you’ve ever lost a loved one, especially during the holidays, memories will come flooding back. After loosing his wife, Walter Meyers (Danny Glover) still living in the house where he and his wife raised their children, decides to have the traditional Christmas dinner with all the family, as usual. However, Walter knows if his daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie Usher) can spend five days together under the same roof, it will truly be a Christmas miracle. As the family begins to gather, Walter realizes this reunion, without his wife, is easier said than done. The first family member to arrive is Aunt May, (Mo’Nique) who is a no nonsense tell-it-like-it-is kind of gal with lots of spunk. Cheryl, a doctor and the eldest daughter, arrives for the holidays with her husband Lonnie (J. B. Smoove), a former basketball player who was famous when he played overseas in Croatia. Rachel struggles to financially support herself and her daughter due to her recent divorce and is studying to become a lawyer. Walter’s eldest son, Christian, struggles with balancing his campaign to become a congressman and his desire to spend time with his family. Christian even invites his campaign manager, Brooks (John Michael Higgins) along, to get more work done. Evan is a successful football player recovering from a shoulder injury, however when his coach tells him his arm is completely healed, Evan struggles to give up his pain medication.
The dysfunction and laughs started the moment Aunt May arrived. Walter remained melancholy throughout the movie. It was uplifting to see the family come together at the end and Walter come to gripes with his loss. Almost Christmas was heart warming and gave a profound message to all at a time when we really need some comfort. I think this movie is a refreshing change from the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged almost Christmas, aunt may, brooks, cheryl, christian, danny glover, evan, gabrielle union, jb smoove, jessie usher, john michael higgins, kimberly elise, lonnie, mo'nique, rachel, romany malco, walter meyers
Denzel is Doing Everything Right! *** SOME SPOILERS ***
John Q is predictable but on purpose. The plot came together quite well because of our anticipated hope for a good resolution. Denzel gives a stunning performance as a father who is both an obedient husband, down on his luck and as a loving, caring father. While I’m not sure if this movie was based on a true story or not, I found “John Q” guilty of the usual Hollywood antics like a news anchorman who happens to have the ultimate communications geek in his employ, enabling the national viewing of a police blunder, LIVE on TV. I have yet to see antics like this in real life. Kimberly Elise gives a believable performance as the desperate mom who demands that her husband “do something” to save their son after all hope has been yanked away by hospital bureaucrats.
After seeing “John Q”, Denzel is a shoe-in to win the Oscar for “Training Day”. If that sounds like an enigma, blame it on the academy. If you haven’t notice, that’s the way they operate. James Woods, Anne Heche , Ray Liotta and Robert Duvall are so believable as die-hard, by-the-book, servants of the people who can’t take YES for an answer. I stayed on the edge of my seat and applauded twice before the movie was over. A good thriller.