Ad Astra first reviews are in, critics call Brad Pitt’s space epic a ‘visionary achievement’, a ‘thing of beauty’
The first reviews for James Gray’s space epic Ad Astra are in. The film, starring Brad Pitt in the lead as a plagued astronaut on a mission, has received reviews on both ends of the spectrum. With multiple five-star ratings, the film was also hit with a few negative reviews. Someone even went so far as to call it the mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017) of 2019.
Games Radar’s James Mottram gave the film a five-star rating, calling it a sci-fi masterpiece. “Sublime and stupendous. Beautiful, bold and remarkably executed, this is Gray’s masterpiece, driven by a career-best turn from Pitt,” it read.
Xan Brooks of The Guardian also gave the film five stars and wrote, “It’s an extraordinary picture, steely and unbending and assembled with an unmistakable air of wild-eyed zealotry.”
Owen Gleiberman of Vulture praised the film’s stunning work with special effect. “The movie, for what it is, isn’t a cheat. At heart, it’s a short story set in space, decorated with major FX (the double rings of the evanescent blue Neptune are its most memorable image), held together by Pitt’s stalwart presence.
Several critics applauded the tough existential questions asked by the film. John Nugent of Empire Magazine wrote, “Existential but also intimate, Ad Astra is a stunning, sensitive exploration of the space left by an absent parent - and the infinite void of actual space.”
However, reviews like CineVue’s called the film derivative of other space epics that it has followed. “Ad Astra looks handsome and there are flashes of brilliance -- the lunar chase and the opening set-piece in particular. But scenes come and go with a weightlessness that has nothing to do with zero gravity,” their review read.
Film Inquiry’s Jak-Luke Sharp wrote, “Ad Astra is no doubt visually stimulating in composition and framing, but ultimately James Gray’s film is a meandering lifeless existential entity that overly emphasises on simplicity.”
Ad Astra premiered on Thursday at the Venice Film Festival. Fox Entertainment had planned to release the film in May but Disney shifted it to the fall after buying Fox’s movie assets. Gray began shooting the movie, which carries an USD 80 million budget, in 2017.
Pitt has said that it is his most challenging film yet. Set in the near future when mankind has set up living stations and research centres on the moon and Mars, the film follows McBride (Pitt) as he makes his way into the vast abyss through spectacular landscapes and empty space.
“This has been the most challenging film I have ever worked on,” Pitt, also a producer of the movie, told a news conference at the Venice Film Festival. “The story ... is so delicate and any clip of a frame too early or music cue or voiceover could easily tip the thing over or be too much or be too obvious. It was a constant effort just to try to maintain this balance and try to keep this story unfolding in a very subtle and delicate way,” he added.
The film releases in India on September 20.
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