Ad Astra (2019) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 7

directing 7

effects 8

editing 8

writing 6

SW SCORE: 36

3.6 out of 5 🐙

++

Ad Astra felt more like a feeling than a movie to me. It felt more like a vibe than a narrative. If I had a cauldron and wanted to mix a potion that would reproduce this vibe, I would combine 2001’s careful pace, Heart of Darkness’ central conceit, and Alien’s loneliness. 

Brad Pitt, as usual, was great. He’s been in plenty of bad movies but he rarely gives a bad performance. He carries the movie on his able shoulders. The plot, a man sent to find his long lost father, seems to only exist for the facilitation of Pitt’s inner monologues. 

Did I mention this movie is all about atmosphere? That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I think they could have thrown a couple moments of levity to give the audience a chance to breathe. Watching this movie felt like you had to hold your breath and could not exhale until the very end.

Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Despite my love for Tommy Lee Jones in general, I feel his performance was unremarkable and he didn’t nearly have enough screen time to justify his legend. I think I would have preferred he was never found at all. That would gel more with the feel of the movie. 

Overall, the movie felt like it held back and was about to release greatness but greatness never came. It left me unmoved. And that’s not the vibe you want when you leave a film. 

The thing I liked best, and what I’ll close with, are Brad Pitt’s bookend affirmations at the beginning and end of the film. I think I should say them to myself when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night respectively. I’m sure it would transform me into Brad Pitt. At least in my mind. 

Start:

“I am focused only on the essential, to the exclusion of all else. I will make only pragmatic decisions. I will not allow myself to be distracted. I will not allow my mind to linger on that which is unimportant. I will not rely on anyone or anything. I will not be vulnerable to mistakes.”

End:

“I’m attentive. I am focused on the essentials, to the exclusion of all else. I’m unsure of the future but I’m not concerned. I will rely on those closest to me, and I will share their burdens, as they share mine.”

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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