An astronaut must venture to the edge of our solar system to save the planet in the first trailer for sci-fi drama Ad Astra.
Director James Gray (The Lost City of Z) has said he wanted to make a film that depicted space travel as realistically as possible “and to basically say, ‘Space is awfully hostile to us.’ It’s kind of a Heart of Darkness story about traveling to the outer edge of our solar system.” The official synopsis strikes just the right note of vague grandiosity: “Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.”
The trailer fleshes out a few of the details. The plot concerns something called the LIMA project, which Roy’s father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), captained. The mission was meant to hunt for advanced extraterrestrial life, but it disappeared about 16 years in, with the crew all presumed dead. Apparently that might not be the case: Clifford McBride may be very much alive—and responsible for a series of catastrophic power surges on Earth that have killed a lot of people. It’s up to Roy to head into space in search of whatever remains of the LIMA project, with orders to destroy it completely if necessary. Since that would also mean destroying his own father, it’s no wonder the pre-flight psychological evaluation is so concerned with his emotional state.
The production values are high, there’s a big-name cast and a capable director, and the studio shifted the film’s release date from May to September, perhaps to better position it for awards season. Gray’s vision is certainly ambitious. But I can’t shake a nagging feeling that I’ve seen this exact film several times before, right down to the daddy issues, and it’s a shame to see the lovely and talented Liv Tyler reduced to playing yet another sad, abandoned space wife. We’ll have to wait until the fall to see what differentiates Ad Astra from all the other sci-fi space adventures that have come before.
Ad Astra is currently scheduled to hit theaters on September 20, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/20th Century Fox