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Ad Astra Movie Review - Deep and Sometimes Slow but Great Message

Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who gains humanity while on a mission.

Reviewed by on Sep 20, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews Ad Astra a space adventure/mystery well-acted by Brad Pitt. Is it okay for teens? Will smart teens and tweens understand the film’s message?

By: Lynn Barker

In Ad Astra, it is the near future and Earth and the entire solar system is being attacked by massive, deadly power surges that could destroy all life. It is thought that the Lima Project 29 years ago might be responsible for these surges. Heading that project was Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), often absent astronaut dad of excellent but emotionless astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt).

Roy shows little emotionRoy shows little emotionCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The government thinks Clifford isn’t dead as assumed and might be responsible for these surges from the Lima lab which orbits Neptune. Roy is sent to Mars to broadcast a personal plea to his estranged dad. When this doesn’t work, Roy embarks on a dangerous journey to stop the surges at any cost.

Ad Astra Movie Trailer


Deadly Power

In our near future our solar system is being struck by mysterious power surges of unknown origin, threatening the future of human life. When Major Roy McBride survives one of these surges while working on a huge space antenna searching for intelligent life, he is informed by Space Command that the surges are thought to come from the “Lima Project” base orbiting Neptune. Roy’s estranged, famous dad Clifford headed this project also meant to search for extraterrestrial life. They believe Clifford is still alive even though his crew perished. Roy must go to Mars in hope of broadcasting a message that can reach his dad.

Will Roy find his dad?Will Roy find his dad?Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Cold Reaction

Roy has cut off his emotions after losing the dad that was never home. He’s not sure about this mission but coldly agrees. After taking a commercial flight to the moon where various mining companies are basically at war, Roy is transported by a security detail to the Space Com lunar base, but the group of moon rovers escorting him is attacked by pirates and everyone but Roy and an elderly astronaut accompanying him is killed. Roy finally gets on a ship to Mars but during the trip the crew answers a mayday signal from a bio lab station. Roy goes along and has to fend off an attack by a big, wild lab monkey that has killed the crew.

The moon rovers are attackedThe moon rovers are attackedCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Message

Finally on Mars, after yet another dangerous power surge, Roy records a pre-written message to his dad on the Lima station around Neptune, asking for contact. He starts to feel some emotion at the possibility of talking to his father and ad-libs a touching plea. This is too emotional for the brass who won’t tell him if his dad answered or not. He is taken off the mission. Angry and alone, he is approached by Helen Lantos (Ruth Negga) who runs the Mars base. She shows him classified video revealing that Clifford’s crew mutinied against him, wanting to go home. Determined to find extraterrestrial life, Clifford killed them by cutting off their life-support. Her parents were among the murdered crew.

Helen tells Roy classified info about his dadHelen tells Roy classified info about his dadCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Ship to Lima

Lantos also tells Roy that his dad did evidently answer because a crew will launch on a ship to destroy the Lima station and Clifford if he is alive. They will blow it up with a nuclear bomb. It should be Roy who contacts Clifford first so Helen helps Roy sneak onto the outgoing space ship. Roy is discovered as a stowaway and, despite his declaring that he isn’t the enemy, the crew tries to kill him so he fights back resulting in him being the only survivor still determined to make it to his dad at the Lima station. On the long, lonely journey, he thinks of his estranged ex-wife Eve (Liv Tyler) and the isolation takes a toll on him physically, emotionally and mentally. After 79 days, he reaches Lima station.

Roy on the way to Lima stationRoy on the way to Lima stationCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Meeting Clifford

While leaving his ship and taking a small pod to the Lima base, Roy suffers another surge that damages the pod and makes him have to enter the base manually. He finds it empty and plants the nuke but then meets the elderly Clifford who says he has been trying to stop the surges caused by an anti-matter accident when his crew turned against him. He has just continued to photograph new planets up close to continue his work as if nothing happened. Dad wants Roy to join him but Roy arms the bomb and forces his dad to don a spacesuit to travel back to Roy’s ship with him.

Roy's dad CliffordRoy's dad CliffordCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Are We Alone?

Will Clifford and Roy make it back to Earth? What has Clifford discovered about extraterrestrial life? Has isolated, emotionless Roy changed? Will he realize that connection with other humans is our true purpose? Will the surges stop?

What will Roy find inside the Lima station?What will Roy find inside the Lima station?Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Wrapping Up

Ad Astra is an acting triumph for Brad Pitt. He shows us a man at the top of his field who has lost his ability to love and basically doesn’t react to anything. Then, through the story, he regains his humanity and Pitt does a great job of showing this gradual change. The film has something to say about relationships between some parents, who are away most of the time both physically and mentally, and their kids. Do the kids still long for a reunion? Are they damaged so much that they have to lose emotion to survive?

Roy leaves to answer a mayday callRoy leaves to answer a mayday callCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The movie might seem slow to smart tweens and teens who want films to be action-packed although there are several scenes that display quite a lot of action. The story requires some concentration on Brad Pitt’s character Roy’s feelings…or lack of them.

Roy approaches the moonRoy approaches the moonCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

There are a few disconnected scenes that seem pointless and don’t really drive the story forward. Like do Roy and his crew really need to answer a distress call and deal with a lab monkey gone wild? There is a good ongoing mystery as we gradually learn about the Clifford character and his findings. Following this and Roy’s transformation was enough for me to stay interested. Younger kids and tweens will probably find the film to be too slow. The space visuals, however, are really cool. We award a weak four stars.

Ad Astra Movie Rating: 4

Ad Astra Movie PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

See Ad Astra in theaters now!

Are There Other Beings in the Universe?

Do you believe we aren’t alone in our Universe? Should Mankind be satisfied with working on fixing our own planet or go out searching for other life forms? Would you want to be an astronaut? Does learning to love solve lots of problems? Comment! We want to know.