Is this a review? Probably, but sometimes it’s quite hard to tell. Anyway, earlier today I braved the train-tram combination to see Ad Astra at the local IMAX.
And it’s a funny little thing – part 2001: A Space Odyssey, part Apocalypse Now, odd little bits that felt almost like b-reel from Beyond the Black Rainbow (especially certain parts of the Mars sequence) and what appeared to be some very visible sellotape.
The plot is relatively straight forward; bad things start happening to Earth, the military dispatch a man to the outer reaches of the solar system where they think his estranged father might be responsible for these bad things occurring, the hero stops them and then comes home to tell everyone that the universe is otherwise empty of life and so we should be happier and nicer to each other.
And yet we take a number of odd diversions along the way. Lunar rover driving moon pirates attack the hero as he transits between two American controlled installations and then, shortly afterwards, a brief stop-off at a Norwegian space station sees a barely introduced secondary character die via free-floating space baboon. Major actors (Sutherland, Negga]) turn up for a few minutes, move the plot along a little and then disappear, never to be seen again. Liv Tyler – who, miraculously, actually manages to appear in all three acts! – seems to live in a parallel universe where every camera has a thin sheen of vaseline covering every lens. FX are what you would expect from a film of this budget and time-period but with only limited moments where it goes beyond the norm. There were no real moments where the IMAX format was used to it’s full effect.
I came away confused at what this film wanted to be – Apocalypse Now? 2001? A mediation on the need for family and community? A condemnation of the idea of sending people far outside of their natural habitat? – and, because of that, I walked away with a strong feeling that Ad Astra was far less than the sum of it’s influences and that this flaw ran all the way back to the beginnings of the production.