It’s hard to quantify the trailer for James Gray’s Ad Astra, which stars Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. The 20th Century Fox and Regency Entertainment flick from Mad River Pictures attempts to combine a little bit of sci-fi realism with space fantasy fiction.
With the trailer clocking in at just under three minutes, the film is about astronaut Brad Pitt who is tasked with journeying into deep space after surviving a cataclysmic event on a space station. The reason he’s selected to head back into space is because he’s the son of an astronaut who was given a classified, top secret mission that may be the answer to Earth’s problems. Meanwhile, Earth is suffering from massive firestorms and climate disruptions due to some unknown force. The government believes that it’s tied to the mission that Tommy Lee Jones had embarked upon years prior before disappearing off the face of the galaxy.
And so now we get to the actual meat of the plot, which is one part Interstellar and one part Sunshine. I do worry about the scope, pacing, and scale of the film, given that it feels like a television series condensed down into a theatrical release, but you can check out the trailer for yourself to get an idea of what it’s about, courtesy of Rapid Trailer.
So first thing is first, Brad Pitt is playing a straight male. So wipe the beads of sweat off your forehead and stow away that pitchfork back into the shed because as far as the leads are concerned, a straight white male has not been subverted for the sake of a diversity agenda at the expense of the storytelling. They seem to want to keep things as straight laced as possible and without the minutiae of propaganda getting in the way of the story they’re trying to tell, which is the complete opposite of what happened to that Fantastic Four reboot that Fox dropped into the toilet a few years back.
As far as the quality of the film is concerned, it looks good…’ish.
If you ripped out the whole sci-fi journeyman aspect it almost looks like it could be a solid, grounded flick about a man coping with the trauma of surviving a life-changing incident in space. But when you combine that with the whole alien aspect, it changes the flavor of the film. For better or for worse is completely up for debate, and we’ll have to wait for user reviews before diving into that discussion.
But overall I’m of two minds about the Interstellar aspects, where Pitt is re-trained and sent back out into space to find his daddy and save humanity. On one side it really adds some extraterrestrial depth to the film. On the other side, however, it really detracts from the realism angle they’re going for.
These kind of things can usually go one way or another, and based on the gorgeous cinematography and a lot of neat interior shots of the training facility and spaceship, I’m almost willing to let the sci-fi elements slide. So long as it doesn’t devolve into something as campy as Mission to Mars or Life, I think it can end up being pretty cool. We’ll find out when the film drops on September 20th, 2019 later this year.