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378. Ad Astra; movie review

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Title : 378. Ad Astra; movie review
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Cert 12A
123 mins
BBFC advice: Contains infrequent strong language, moderate violence, threat, gory images

I have read the critics' comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey and I can see what they mean - indeed, even director, James Gray, admits its influence.
But here's the rub - I couldn't relate to Stanley Kubrik's so-called classic and yet I loved Ad Astra.
Indeed, I can't recall Brad Pitt being as good as he is here.
Ad Astra delves into the near-ish future where Pitt plays an astronaut who seems to be unperturbable, even during near-death experiences.
Thus, when the world future is threatened by devastating electric storms which are being precipitated from outer space, he is the man to sort it out.
The double whammy is that the huge electric pulses are thought to have been triggered by a space mission long which had reportedly met with an untimely end.
The kick in the tale it that it has been led by the father (Tommy Lee Jones) of Pitt's character and the memories of him prompt his heart to race much more than mortal danger.
There are clear comparisons with 2001: Space Odyssey is the preparations for travel and the almost incessant mental tests which Pitt's character has to undertake.
But I didn't find it quite so off the wall. Indeed, even its strange ending isn't as bizarre as that in Kubrick's film.
Here, space exploration has been wide and varied but much is shrouded in secrecy and pock-marked with violence.
Indeed, almost entirely excluded from the film are traces of humanity or humility.
The notable exception is when the microscope in on the relationship between the characters of Pitt and Jones - even though they barely know each other.
It is interesting how often absent fathers have an emotional grip on children who have been brought up in an emotional vacuum.
I have seen this in my capacity as a volunteer for a charity for young people and Gray touches a nerve by his examination of this damaged relationship.
But, let us not forget the action which is the backbone of Ad Astra. There are some great scenes from. the opening dazzlers to ones portraying outer space.
Indeed, it is the combination of all elements, so thoughtfully constructed and played, which make Ad Astra such a fine movie.
Will it film be an Oscar contender? Maybe. Will Pitt be up for best actor? He must certainly have a chance of a nomination.

Reasons to watch: As fine a sci-fi film as I've seen in a very long time
Reasons to avoid: The pathos is probably a tad overdone

Laughs: None
Jumps: Two
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 9/10

Did you know? Until now, the only spacecraft to visit Neptune was Voyager 2, which flew by the giant planet in 1989.

Final word. James Gray: "I don’t have a problem with the Marvel movies but, I love hamburgers, and if you're only given hamburgers to eat every single day of your life, don’t you eventually say, 'Can I please have some pasta? A dumpling? A salad?' You want something else." Games Radar

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