I wanted to see this film in the cinema, but I never did. It was probably one of the few recent releases that drew me to that magic of a large screen and empty theatre, the smell of popcorn wafting through the air like a perfume.
My conclusion after watching this at home: I'm glad that I did not go to watch this at the cinema.
Ad Astra's trailers were ambitious, and carried the vibe of a 2001: A Space Odyssey rebirth. This is not what I got.
Instead, I got another edgy film about a grown man with daddy issues, except his daddy is an astronaut a generation ago, and is in the far reaches of the solar system.
So much about this world that we're thrust into doesn't make sense at all.
Firstly, through the various hops that Brad Pitt's character makes to the outer reaches of the solar system - there seems to be no governance or knowledge of his impending arrival on Mars. You'd think a sufficiently advanced Human civilisation wouldn't require something along this lines... but it does. It makes for an akward "space customs" scene.
The next thing that doesn't sit right is that there's no real depth to the horrors of space, beyond a brief scene where duct-tape is hilariously employed on a broken visor to try and save someone - spoiler alert... it doesn't come close to working.
Overall, the plot is anaemic, the visuals are adequate (for a production with as much money behind it as this) - and the crescendo where everything falls apart and comes back together is unsatisfying, as the emotional investment into one-dimensional characters doesn't even return on the sunk cost fallacy.
The pacing is okay, but it feels too long. It tries to be meditative, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it fails at visual story telling throughout. Details are thrust in front of the viewer, instead of being placed in the background, to allow you to discover and "click" at your own pace.
This is low IQ science fiction at its best. Give it a miss.