‘Ad Astra’ doesn’t add up

T. A. MORELAND | 10/3/2019, 3:24 p.m.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to outer space to figuratively kill two birds with one stone—or one trip.
"Ad Astra"

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to outer space to figuratively kill two birds with one stone—or one trip. Electronic waves coming from the heavens are threatening Earth, a phenomenon that leads scientists and high-level government officials to believe that there’s a connection between the waves and a space voyage 30 years earlier led by McBride’s father (Tommy Lee Jones), from which he never returned.

Despite Brad Pitt’s stellar performance, “Ad Astra” never really takes off and it gets a “Rent It” rating. Screenwriters James Gray and Ethan Gross lay out the story effectively and clearly. There’s the threat to destroy the world, which is likely connected with McBride’s father’s space journey decades earlier. But other than that, this story moseys through a series of modestly interesting scenes serving as little more than filler until McBride reaches his final destination.

For those of you who expect “Star Wars” type battles and scenes, you’ll be disappointed. Many of the scenes are serene and calm—which probably better represents what outer space is really like. There’s a mildly amusing portion: the film is set in the future where passengers can take commercial flights to the moon. Those wanting the comfort of an on-flight blanket pay a cool, $125!

Again, Brad Pitt does all he can to propel this story into an entertainment sphere. And the cinematography is out of this world, with creative angles and vantage points. However, those features are not enough.

“Ad Astra” gets a “B” for cast diversity. This is very much a white male dominated cast. However, Ruth Negga has a major supporting role. Kimberly Elise plays an astronaut, but with very little to say. There are other people of color with visible but minor roles.

It’s rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images coupled with brief strong language. At 124 minutes, it’s too long.

In the end Pitt’s performance coupled with the visually stimulating scenes gives this film some entertainment value. But don’t see it now. Wait and Rent It.