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
It all started in 2002 with “Jason Bourne Identity”. Jason is found with 2 bullets in his back, unconscious, with amnesia. He had no idea who he was. Since then there was Bourne Supremacy in 2004, Borune Ultimatum in 2007, Bourne Legacy in 2012 and just Jason Bourne in 2016. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) still has not fully regained his memory but is still trying to find out who he really is with the help of rough CIA agent, Nicky Parson (Julia Stiles). After Nicky hacks the CIA and learns significant information about Jason’s identity, she is exposed and tailed all the way to Jason Bourne, who is in Greece. The hunt is on once again to try and capture, kill or bring Bourne in. Once they meet up, Nicky tells Jason vital information about his father and Treadstone, which is a Black Ops he was part of. CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) orders his people to find Parson in hopes they can reach her before she can hand off the files she hacked to Bourne. Dewey calls on The Asset (Vincent Cassel), an ex-Blackbriar assassin who also holds a personal grudge against Bourne, having been captured and tortured as a result of Bourne’s actions in “The Bourne Ultimatum” and harbors resentment toward him because of it. The Asset is ruthless in his pursuit of Bourne following him from Greece to London then Las Vegas where they engaged in the best car chase (between a Police Swat vehicle and a Dodge Charger) I’ve seen in years. In fact, it may be the best I’ve ever seen. All told, the chase scene involved some 200 vehicles. The scene concludes as the speeding SWAT vehicle busts through the Riviera casino entrance and onto the gaming floor, demolishing slot machines and anything else in it’s path. This is how it looks at the end of the chase. I won’t reveal what happens next but I am saying, SEE THIS MOVIE! Dewey has a team of shady type agents working for him, including Heather Lee, (Alicia Vikander) the head of the CIA Cyber Ops Division. Dewey is also busy bullying Aaron Kalloor, (Riz Ahmed) the CEO and founder of Deep Dream, a social media enterprise that fits in nicely to his new project. I found Jason Bourne to be entertaining, thrilling, exciting, well acted, with awesome special effects and a great ending to a really good series.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged aaron kalloor, alicia vikander, deep dream, heather lee, jason bourne, julia stiles, matt damon, nicky parson, riz ahmed, robert dewey, the asset, theadstone, tommy lee jones, vincent cassel
Criminal really fell way under the radar. I was so impressed with Kevin Costner’s performance as Jericho Stewart, a criminal with no morals. This is Costner as I have never seen him before. Even his voice changed. If you didn’t know it before, you will know now if you see Criminal, Kevin can act his tuchis off! Criminal is about an anarchist, Xavier Heimbahl (Jordi Mollà) who instructs his associate, who is also a hacker known as “The Dutchman” (Jan Stroop) to create a wormhole program that would allow it’s owner access to the world’s nuclear defense codes by bypassing all computer codes via this wormhole. After following Xavier’s orders, the Dutchman panics and attempts to make a deal for $12M with Bill Pope (Kevin Reynolds) a London based CIA agent who secures the money and hides the Dutchman in an undisclosed safe house. Xavier catches Bill, tortures him and leaves him for dead without finding where the money or the Dutchman is being held. In the meanwhile, Bill’s supervisor, CIA Chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) is desperate to find the money and the Dutchman before the Russian, Xavier Heimbahl does. Quaker consults Neuroscientist Dr. Mahal Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who has developed a treatment that could theoretically plant the memory patterns of a dead man onto a living one. Keeping Pope’s brain stimulated to preserve its knowledge, Dr. Franks requests that convict Jericho Stewart be the subject of the procedure, as Stewart’s criminal behavior is the result of childhood brain trauma, leaving him with an underdeveloped frontal lobe, hindering his emotional development and impulse control, that they can use to ‘graft’ Pope’s knowledge into Stewart’s mind.
Of course there’s lots more to this story and as I said, Kevin Costner really gives a solid performance. Gal Gadot plays Bill Pope’s wife who encounters the deadly Jericho who is beginning to remember what’s in Bill’s head. There are some great and funny scenes, as Jericho rocks Criminal with his lack of ethics, morals and compassion. Criminal is definitely worth seeing. I, for one, was really entertained and enjoyed the movie. The ending was truly worth the entire film.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged bill pope, cia chief, criminal, dr. mahal franks, gal gadot, gary oldman, hacker, jericho stewart, jill pope, jordi mollà, Kevin costner, london based cia agent, michael pitt, neuroscientist, quaker wells, russian, the dutchman, tommy lee jones, xavier heimbahl