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Ad Astra


Stars: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, John Ortiz, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, Greg Bryk, Loren Dean, Kimberly Elise, John Finn, LisaGay Hamilton, Natasha Lyonne

Director: James Gray

Once again we are launched - Hollywood style - into Outer Space when, in the future, astronaut Brad Pitt, having survived an edge-of-the-seat disaster in space, boldly travels to the far reaches of the solar system to search for his father (played with a commendably straight face by Lee Jones), missing after vanishing in deep space 16 years previously.

Don't worry too much about following the slim but pretentiously decorated storyline co-concocted by director Gray and Ethan Gross. It's essentially deigned to showcase the star (who doubles on the credits as a producer with the initials p.g.a. after his name), who stays centre screen while his co-stars make minor appearances designed to bolster Pitt's performance.

Regrettably, much of Pitt's perfunctory portrayal is delivered with the saddened expression of someone battling chronic constipation, but determined to carry on regardless.

If eye-dazzling special effects - at times the moon resembles Disneyland reimagined for future profit - were all that were needed to make a great science fiction movie, then Ad Astra would be flying high with genre greats.

But it's been a long time and many genre movies since 2001: A Space Odyssey and other seminal science fiction films made cinema history with their eye-dazzling movie magic. Nowadays we expect superb sci-fi effects as a standard element of these pictures. Once again, the story that drives the film is what should really matter.

So, if what you are looking for is a superbly visually realised futuristic journey into deep space, then Gray, Pitt and everyone else on both sides of the camera deliver. Providing, that is, you can accept the pretentious plotting, plodding pace and - in the final analysis - the star's predominantly one-note performance.

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
123 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 04 Oct 2019