Ad Astra (Latin for "To the Stars") is a 2019 American psychological science fiction drama film produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. The film follows an astronaut who ventures into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the solar system. It was released in the United States on September 20, 2019.
Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, thirty years later, threatens the universe.
- The opening scene of film is unoriginal, as it copies First Man. Coincidentally, the film ended up having the same fate as the former; costing the studio $30+ million.
- It was intended to be a realistic space film. However, the movie was dogged down by questionable physics and factual errors, worse than even Star Wars and Star Trek combined:
- The characters' shadows on the moon end up being behind of them instead of being in front of them, just before moving to the dark side. Even worse, the Moon's gravity got downplayed to the point that it's exactly the same as Earth's.
- How did Roy perfectly nailed his jump and landed on his rocket and also deflected Neptune's ring debris with a metal plate? And also, Neptune's rings are supposed to be black, not purple.
- While on Mars and indoors on the Moon, characters experience normal gravity rather than the dramatically reduced gravity they should.
- How did Roy also get into a rocket from a magical airlock near the thrusters after lift-off?
- When Roy arrives on the moon he's told the moon is nearly full from the Earth. Actually, the Sun should be nearly behind Earth, making Earth appear dark in shadow and visible only near sunset/rise. Instead during the rover trip the Earth appears about 2/3 illuminated, and thus from the Earth, the Moon should be about 1/3 illuminated, and the moon scene's drop shadows are consistent with this.
- There's a manhole in the Martian dessert, while there's even a recording booth set up on Mars!
- How did Roy discharge a firearm in a pressurised confined space travelling through deep space
- In the final act, Roy used a nuclear explosion as propulsion. Actually, explosions of any kind aren't powerful enough to push a spaceship as big as the Cephaeus.
- Roy somehow manages to re-enter Earth's atmosphere after falling off the ISS in just his spacesuit with the 'assistance' of a broken parachute.
- Lackluster character development and exposition.
- Roy suffers from the "daddy issues" cliché, which ends up being executed weakly.
- Ridiculous and incoherent plot that requires Roy to fly via the Moon to Mars to... make a phone call to his dad.
- There are several plot holes in this film, including:
- It is never explained as to who the lunar pirates and space baboons are.
- For some reason, Cepheus can travel to Neptune in 79 days. Such a feat is impossible in real life except with liquid propellant, of which that ship didn't utilise.
- For some reason, one can casually stop midway from Earth to Mars to check on a distress call from Neptune.
- The main goal of the hero could basically have been completed by fax.
- Poor acting from several of the cast members, with Brad Pitt being an exception.
- The distances between individual planets in space are all messed up.
- The pacing is very slow, and thus the film becomes boring very quickly.
- The ending undoes the main character's goal of finding extraterrestrial sentient life in space, which gets thrown out when the twist reveals that all those sentient life was the result of Roy’s father's deadly experiment through the Lima Project.
- Excellent sound mixing and visual effects. It received an Academy Award nomination for the former.
- Great soundtrack by Max Richter.
- The idea of a man plotting to investigate his father's atrocious experiments in space is pretty decent.
- Brad Pitt's performance as Roy is decent.
- Mind-blowing cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema
Ad Astra grossed $50.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $85.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $135.4 million. Deadline Hollywood deduced the film would lose $30 million off a projected $150 million final worldwide gross (a figure it would ultimately fall short of). The film made $10.1 million in its second weekend and $4.4 million in its third, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 369 reviews, with an average rating of 7.56/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Ad Astra takes a visually thrilling journey through the vast reaches of space while charting an ambitious course for the heart of the bond between parent and child." On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 80 out of 100, based on 56 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". However, reception from audiences is generally mixed-to-negative. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale, while those surveyed at PostTrak gave it an average 2.5 out of 5 stars, with 40% saying they would definitely recommend it, while on Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 40%, with an average of 2.85.