Brad Pitt in a scene from "Ad Astra".
Once upon a time, James Gray's sci-fi epic "Ad Astra" which starred Brad Pitt in the leading role was set to be one of Fox's highly-anticipated movies in 2019.
It even reportedly had an early release date of January this year, only to be delayed until the crowded summer-movie season of May 2019. That didn't happen either, and for a while there, it looked as if "Ad Astra" remains stranded in the infinite vastness of the deep dark space.
Fortunately, after numerous delays, "Ad Astra" finally premiered at the Venice Film Festival to mostly positive responses - an early indication that the movie wasn't deemed a disastrous effort as some of us might think in the first place.
Now that the movie is set to be released in our local cinemas this 19 September, here are the 7 reasons why you should watch "Ad Astra" on the big screen!
Brad Pitt leads the cast as astronaut Roy McBride in "Ad Astra".
Over the course of his illustrious acting career since appearing in an uncredited role in 1987's little-seen comedy "Hunk", Brad Pitt has played various roles in different genres such as thrillers ("Seven", "The Devil's Own), action ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith") and war ("Troy", "Inglourious Basterds", "Fury" and "Allied"). But you'll be surprised that he's hardly acted in a sci-fi movie. The last time he appeared in such a genre was Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys" back in 1995, where Pitt earned a much-deserved Oscar nomination for his memorable supporting role as the mental patient Jeffrey Goines. Since then, it only took him over two decades (24 years, to be exact) for Brad Pitt to finally make a long-awaited comeback to science fiction in the form of "Ad Astra". Not to mention 2019 is shaping to be Pitt's banner year, especially after making such a lasting impression in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood" released in our local cinemas just a month ago.
Liv Tyler plays Roy McBride's wife, Eve in "Ad Astra".
When comes to the list of cast members, Brad Pitt isn't the only star attraction of this ambitious sci-fi epic. Co-writer and director James Gray also assembled other notable actors in supporting roles that include Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and the long-missed Liv Tyler, whose last mainstream Hollywood appearance was "The Incredible Hulk" back in 2008.
Co-writer and director James Gray and Brad Pitt on the set of "Ad Astra".
While James Gray isn't exactly a household name for most mainstream audiences, his brief but impressive filmography earned a fair share of accolades including his promising 1995 debut "Little Odessa" as well as other notable releases such as "Two Lovers" (2008) and "The Lost City Of Z" (2016). His latest movie, "Ad Astra" would mark his biggest-budgeted movie to date (reportedly costing around USD80-90 million). Despite the fact this is his first attempt in making a sci-fi film, it would be interesting to see how he can incorporate his love for character-driven drama elements into the vast magnitude of a sci-fi genre. The early positive reviews for "Ad Astra" that made its worldwide premiere at the recent Venice International Film Festival looks like the movie is destined to become one of the year's must-see films.
Brad Pitt in one of the many scenes from "Ad Astra".
Mention the words "big-budget" and "science fiction" in the same sentence, and it's easy to assume that it's going to be filled with lots of special effects and showy action set pieces. While "Ad Astra" does contain the aforementioned elements, the movie is more cerebral and meditative than it looks, the kind that rhymes "thought-provoking" and "existential". After months of big and loud summer-movie offerings, a movie like "Ad Astra" would be a refreshing change of pace for both sci-fi fans and casual moviegoers looking for a serious-minded, effects-laden Hollywood fare.
One of the space scenes in "Ad Astra".
Most of the early reviews from the recent Venice International Film Festival premiere gave "Ad Astra" tons of praises in terms of the movie's visual and special effects. Judging by some of the trailers and movie clips that have released online so far, it's fair to say that James Gray's initial promise during one of his interviews for delivering "the most realistic depiction of space travel that's been put in a movie" is no smoke and mirrors after all. This also makes "Ad Astra" all the must-watch on the biggest screen possible to appreciate the scale and scope of its production.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Roy's missing father in "Ad Astra".
The central premise for "Ad Astra" basically involves astronaut Roy McBride's (Brad Pitt) intergalactic journey in an attempt to search for his missing father played by Tommy Lee Jones. If the setup sounds somewhat familiar, that's because "Ad Astra" has been hailed by some of the critics as a homage to Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 existential Vietnam War classic "Apocalypse Now", which ironically shared the similar tone. Such a homage to one of Hollywood's most talked-about classics of all-time, of course, makes "Ad Astra" interesting enough to check out.
A scene from "Ad Astra".
If James Gray's obvious influence for Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" isn't enough, "Ad Astra" also shares a similar pattern that echoes the likes of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 seminal sci-fi epic "2001: A Space Odyssey". This is particularly evident when comes to the movie's overall tone, setting and vision.