It’s Apocalypse Now in space as Brad Pitt goes from cool stuntman to spaceman in James Gray’s rich, contemplative science fiction opus. Prepare to go interstellar.
Gray’s films are typically detached affairs (The Lost City of Z being a tough nut to crack, but well worth the patience) however with Ad Astra, Gray and Pitt concoct an emotional, and thoroughly engaging journey into the cosmos. Pitt is Roy McBride; he is immune to fear, or maybe jaded by the prospect of pain, and so the ideal candidate to venture to a NASA communications base on Mars, and coax his missing-believed-dead father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) back from the rings of Neptune and a long-term research mission named The Lima Project.
The visual ravishments are plentiful, and Gray draws new aesthetic life from the extremely well-worn iconography of space suits, satellites and star-dappled vistas of the sublime infinite. Ad Astra is a lament on the things we will never grasp in our relatively meagre lifetime. It is also a fantastic voyage into the unknown, and one of the finest sci-fi films made for modern big screen cinema. (Jack Whiting) Come in the light of Silent Running (1972) on Wednesday 9th.