Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Veneration / idolizing a parent
Following in the footsteps of one’s father
Son looking for missing father
Fearing one’s father
Father who cares nothing about his wife and son
Son’s feelings of abandonment and anger
Difficulties for astronauts in exploration of outer space
Attempts to find signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
Astronomy in the Bible
Roy’s comment, “We go to work, we do our jobs, and then it's over”
How can we know there’s a God? Answer
What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
If God made everything, who made God? Answer
Brad Pitt … Major Roy McBride
Tommy Lee Jones … Clifford McBride
Liv Tyler … Eve McBride
Ruth Negga … Helen Lantos
Donald Sutherland … Colonel Pruitt
Anne McDaniels … Shunga Hologram
John Ortiz … General Rivas
Kimberly Elise … Lorraine Deavers
Greg Bryk … Chip Garnes
Loren Dean … Donald Stanford
Halszka Kuza … Dancer
John Finn … Stroud
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New Regency Pictures
Bona Film Group [China]
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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a division of The Walt Disney Company
The title is Latin for “to the stars.” In addition, ad astra is often used as a shorthand for the Latin phrase per aspera ad astra, meaning “through hardships to the stars.”
Major Roy McBride has served as one of the finest astronauts in the United States Space Command for many, many years, having followed in the footsteps of his famous, yet claimed to be deceased, astronaut, Clifford McBride. Roy’s commendations and attention to detail, while his ability to remain calm under any stressful situation (no, seriously, he can actually control his pulse and blood pressure to pass his mandatory psychological evaluations), are what are about to assign him one of the most dangerous, and, for him, one of the most personal missions of his entire profession: the search and rescue of his father, Clifford, who is actually presumed by the Space Command to be alive and living on Neptune.
Now why would the Space Command be so invested in the rescue of Clifford, since he’s been assumed dead for 29 years? Is this really coming from a sense of “morality” that Space Command wants to bring Clifford home? Well…… no. You see, there have been power surges occurring all over the planet. These, supposedly, are being caused by electric beams (?) being shot into space toward Earth stemming all the way from Neptune, where Clifford supposedly lives after the failure of his team’s project, the Lima Project.
Roy’s REAL mission? Well, sure, it’s to go find his father and bring him home, but the more pressing matter is to stop the surges stemming from the Lima Base on Neptune where Clifford is residing. But the past does NOT always stay in the past, and Roy will have to face his past… one way or the other.
One word comes to my mind when I think about how someone should approach a film like “Ad Astra,” and that is “patiently.” I say this because with a run time of over two hours and only moderate amounts of action, you will need to forgive the film for some of its pacing at times.
However, what the film suffers from with regards to pacing (and even then this only occurs every so often), it makes up for ten-fold in a spectacular display of visual effects of space and God’s creation, with not a single detail out a place (there is a prolonged shot of Neptune’s rings, as Roy approaches Neptune, that is just breathtaking).
Additionally, the performance of Brad Pitt is to be commended for his depiction of the psychological restraints the character places on himself and his past interactions with his father, and the emotional difficulty in his going through with the mission when his head says yes, but his heart says no. To divulge anything more about the plot would only spoil the film for you.
Violence: Moderately Heavy to Very Heavy—and most of it unnecessary. Explosions and astronauts falling to their death. An astronaut free falls from space, then parachutes and hits the ground hard. There is a space rover battle, where astronauts are shot and killed with blasters. An animal attacks a human. We see the bloodied, deceased, clawed face and hands of its previous victim. A monkey is killed; its body explodes resulting in visible gore and blood. There is a perilous spaceship landing. A character admits that he killed people, both the innocent and guilty together. A person cracks their skull against a spaceship door; we see accompanying blood. Astronauts fight inside an airlock. Human corpses are seen floating inside a ship, amidst blood on the walls. Another character is killed. There is a nuclear explosion.
Profanity: Moderately Heavy— • J*sus Chr*st (1) • G*d-d*mn (3) • H*ll (2) • heck (1)
Vulgarity: Moderate— • F**k (1) and two obscene gestures • Sh*t (1) • son of a b*tch (1) • s*cks (1)
Sexual Content: Minor. There is no nudity other than seeing Brad Pitt shirtless, and no actual sexual content. We do see a man and wife together in bed, but they are both clothed.
Drugs: Some astronauts are seen taking drugs to pass the time on their long journey.
Other: On a positive note, a character is seen praying at times. God is referenced in a positive manner in a couple instances, with even the main character, Roy, stating his belief in God.
One of the central issues Roy faces in the film, other than having to face the danger of stopping the surges that are stemming from Neptune, is having to confront his father, having not seen him in over 20 years (remember, his father was presumed to be dead and so Roy grew up without a father to care for him).
I can’t help but be reminded of the important roles the Bible has laid out for Earthly fathers and their vital significance in raising children in the Lord.
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” —Genesis 18:19
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. —Proverbs 22:6
Likewise, it is important that we honor and cherish our parents, as Christ has commanded us to do, not simply because there is a promise attached to it, but because of how God will direct our parents in raising us to become faithful and loved children and servants of the Lord.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:1-4
I’m really pondering as to whether or not to recommend “Ad Astra” for Christian viewing. The film is a cinematic beauty, and while there are some heavy moments of violence to contend with, these don’t occur very often throughout the film (only here and there), and the profanity and vulgarity (which honestly wasn’t necessary) is limited to what I mentioned above.
However, as a reviewer, I have to make a judgment based all that is presented, and with its negative content in place, sadly, the violence and language are enough for me to not recommend this film for viewing by Christian audiences (although it may be cleaner than most films that are currently in theaters right now).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.