About half way through director James Gray’s sixth feature film Ad Astra, I began to find myself thinking, ‘hang on, haven’t I seen this bit before?’ ‘In that other film about space?’ ‘And haven’t I heard this voice over before?’ In that film by Terence Malick about the tree?’
This feeling of déjà vu never quite left me as I ploughed my way through Gray’s self-indulgent space epic/Brad Pitt Oscar vehicle, bitterly disappointed as the film revealed itself to be no more than a style-over-substance space odyssey full of threadbare cliches.
Ad Astra is a film of two halves. One is a visually breath-taking science fiction adventure brimming with seamless visual effects, The other is a tepid father/son melodrama that tries it’s damnedest to drag the rest of the film down to it’s yawn-inducing level. Ad Astra looks poised to kick-start the age old debate of substance over style, and I imagine audiences watching the film will find that which camp they fall in will determine how much they agree with critical opinion. Continue reading