CVIndependent

Sat06062020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Director James Gray and star Brad Pitt came up with a decent-looking, meditative, unsettling and messy attempt at meaningful science fiction with Ad Astra.

Pitt plays Roy McBride, an astronaut following in the footsteps of his father (Tommy Lee Jones) decades after his dad disappeared on a scientific expedition searching for alien life somewhere around Neptune. When major power surges start threatening Earth, it’s believed Roy’s still-possibly-alive father is the culprit, so Roy is sent on a mission to reach his father and get him to knock it the fuck off.

This leads to a journey that involves a lunar buggy shootout on the moon; an unimaginative visit to Mars; and, finally, a trip to Neptune. On top of the scientifically impossible things that happen in this film, the plot is stitched together with the ultimate crutch—the Apocalypse Now voiceover. Pitt is restricted to sad-puppy-eyes duty as his character deals with his daddy issues in a cosmic sort of way. They throw in a space-monkey attack to try to liven things up, but it doesn’t work.

The movie is a missed opportunity. Ad Astra is strung out and a little too boring and listless.

Ad Astra is now playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Writer-director James Gray has made a powerful film about Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who disappeared in 1925 while looking for a lost city in the Amazon.

Charlie Hunnam gives an impressive performance in The Lost City of Z as Fawcett, a man so hell-bent on restoring his family’s good name that he leaves his wife and children, for years at a time, to explore the Amazon. After many brushes with death in his travels, he returns to England—only to find himself fighting in World War I.

Eventually, Percy’s son, Jack (Tom Holland … yes, Spider-Man!), joins him for one more quest in the Amazon, and it turns out to be Percy’s last. There are many different accounts regarding the fate of Percy and his son, and Gray comes up with a conclusion that is powerful and beautiful.

Hunnam is great here, as is Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin, a co-explorer. Holland, in just a few scenes, leaves a great mark on the movie, especially in his final moments. Sienna Miller brings grace to the role of Nina, Fawcett’s strong-willed wife.

This is one of the year’s better-looking films, and a great example of a real-life story being as amazing as anything someone could make up. Fawcett was a fearless guy, and this movie displays that.

The Lost City of Z is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing