Ad Astra

In Ad Astra (Latin for "to the stars"), a curious mashup of 2001 and Apocalypse Now, new facts have recently come to light about the disappearance of a deep, deep space probe launched to find intelligent life in the cosmos. The commander was Cliff McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), the most decorated man in the history of the space program, and now his son Roy (Brad Pitt) is tasked with his own top-secret mission, to reestablish contact...perhaps. Father- less Roy has chosen a life of emotional isolation, which is desirable for the difficult career of an astronaut but not healthy for his long-suffering wife, and certainly not ideal for the audience. Other than his daddy quandary, there isn't a lot here to engage us on a human level, and the constant narration of his every thought and feeling—as if his frequent psych reports aren't enough—only make matters worse. There's some action on his journey from Earth to the moon to Mars and beyond, but much of it is gratuitous, and Mr. Pitt's strong-yet-stoic performance doesn't help much.

120ada.boxSomewhat surprisingly for a modern movie about futuristic technology, Ad Astra was shot on film before getting a 2K digital master (according to IMDB). The results display faint (but always welcome) film grain, while an abundance of colorful, likely artificial, lens flares adds verisimilitude. The special effects often impress, sometimes with their subtle realism, and other times with a sense of grand spectacle. Glows and blooms of light show smooth, ring-free transitions. High dynamic range brings out generous detail in the many dimly lit environments, notably in faces, and the sunshine high above earth's atmosphere looks exceptionally, appropriately bright.


Ad Astra's Dolby Atmos soundtrack makes excellent use of hard-panned surround effects and does wonders to render a variety of strange alien environments. Many scenes feature an ambient bass rumble that contributes to their believability, although the big old boom we expect for explosions and rocket launches is lacking. Moments of silence also come with the airless territory, eventually offset by distant, quiet sounds. Compared with the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track on the included regular HD Blu-ray, the Atmos mix brings a pleasing verticality to much of the movie.


The 4K disc of Ad Astra includes a commentary by director/co-writer James Gray, and the regular HD Blu-ray ups the ante with a pair of deleted scenes plus five featurettes. A sixth featurette about the film's visual effects is a digital exclusive included with the supplied Movies Anywhere copy.

STUDIO: Fox, 2019
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 123 mins.
DIRECTOR: James Gray
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, John Ortiz

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Maybe the fact that I saw Ad Astra while hungover in Portugal on vacation has influenced my opinion....but did not like this movie. The production value was high but the story/plot just didn't do it for me. There is zero chance I would buy this on disc, I would never watch it more then once.