Brad Pitt is one of the few true movie stars left in Hollywood. The mecca of the cinema has not worried too much in doing more to strengthen the franchises to such an extent that many of them are running out of time the obsession that what worked beforehand will also do so now. With the exception of his cute cameo in ‘Deadpool 2’, Pitt is also one of the few who has preferred to stay away from the very profitable superhero movies.
He recently commented that he will play less and less, partly as a result of the change of scenery in Hollywood. That has not prevented that in 2019 we will see him in our nearest cinema in two films released with just a couple of months apart. In July it was the turn of "Once upon a time... in Hollywood", his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, and this Friday, September 20 comes "Ad Astra", an impressive space odyssey that curiously fails when it focuses on the trauma of its protagonist.
Pitt plays "Ad Astra" to Roy, an astronaut who receives a mission of the most particular: locate his father in space, who has been missing for several decades but who suspect he is behind a threat that could end up destroying the Earth. A story that is approached by James Gray, director and co-writer of the film, with an approach that to some extent brings to mind ‘The Lost City of Z’, his previous work.
There the obsession of an explorer served as the axis of the tape, while here is the internal trauma suffered by its protagonist. From the first moment it is clear that he is not a normal person and it is soon revealed that his father's mysterious disappearance has left an indelible mark on him. This is something that is handled initially with some ease, first playing with how reluctant it is to believe that their parent is still alive, but it does not take long to get stuck in the emotional section, watch now the story to get as sentimental as we did.
Soon he begins to return again and again to the same trauma without contributing anything that differentiates him, since the fact that the mission advances is not enough if he does not do it internally. And Gray constantly emphasizes this through the use of a voiceover that ends up being somewhat monotonous. It is not that the elaborate reflections abound or that it has such a distracting presence, it is simply a resource that is not taken advantage of because Pitt's inner journey can get you to disconnect from what happens on the screen.
And it is a pity that it is so, because Pitt does know how to reflect the emotions of his character, giving small details to that surprising tranquility that characterizes him and providing the knowledge to be necessary so that he does not become unfriendly although they are not true efforts to get it from Gray. The rest of the characters fulfill their mission without bragging, being Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones the only ones who really manage to print some feeling to theirs.
Where there is none but what to put Gray is in the purely technical facet. There ‘Ad Astra’ looks impressive, offering an exciting space trip where there are small spaces for the show without ever breaking the leisurely tone that characterizes the film or the purely realistic approach. He was already aware of his great talent for leadership and here he demonstrates it once again.
In this regard, it is worth highlighting the tendency to address such a complex story from the most intimate side. Short frames abound to influence the emotions of the characters - although sometimes they are not raised in a satisfactory way - and the widest ones are left to enjoy a stunning portrait of the special adventure without having to fall into unnecessary effects - if there is a scene that may convey that feeling, but in my opinion it is perfectly integrated.
Too bad he could not reach the same level emotionally as technically, since ‘Ad Astra’ proposes a series of interesting reflections and then does not know how to develop them or what exactly to do with them. It is as if Gray wanted to run away from the devices so much that it just ended up giving the feeling of something prefabricated at this point. Nothing happens to let emotions dominate you as long as it makes sense to be so.
‘Ad Astra’ is a fascinating film that is purely visual with a lot of beautiful sequences that last in memory. What will not - or will be for negative reasons - is the emotional arc of its protagonist. Pitt is not bad, but the construction of his character is quite improvable and ends up ballasting the final result, watch online the movie and you'll see.