Ad Astra: A Voyage of Self-Reliance and Self-Identity

Elliot Tritto

Central Bureau Chief


There’s nothing more therapeutic than grabbing a blanket, laying down on the grass and looking at all the bright stars in the night sky. Let’s face it; life presents many complications. We all struggle to discover who we are and what fate has in store. Please do something for me. The next time you sit outside at night; I want you to think about this Latin phrase, “Ad Astra per Aspera.”  As Kelly Unger, a University of Kansas Alumni, writes “Ad Astra per Aspera” is Latin for “to the stars through difficulties.” Seeing a blanket of stars with a busy lifestyle enlightens me about the wonders of life and where humanity lies in the future. So, it would make sense for Ad Astra to satisfy my enthusiasm about the intertwining themes of space and humanity.

IMDB summarizes Ad Astra about how “Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.” If we can go off-topic, there’s something nostalgic yet refreshing about going into a movie theater. I don’t know if it’s buying the ticket in the box office, smelling the rich and buttery scent of popcorn, sipping that rejuvenating taste of a cold Coca-Cola, or that I felt welcomed to a light violet dimmed hallway. Whatever it was, I never felt more excited to see a movie. My friend, Russell, and I walked into the movie theater with high expectations that this space thriller will enlighten our minds. In doing so with stellar special effects, minimalistic music composition, subtle acting, and electrifying storytelling. The result; the film did not disappoint.

Chris Stuckmann said in his YouTube review, “I completely understand why some people might not like the film because it’s not like other space movies. It also has a lot of inconsistencies concerning movie logic.” He continues to say, “If you really want to get into judging the move’s science or it’s space travel or exploration and how things happen, you’re going to be annoyed throughout the entire film.” So, for you space nerds and astronomers out there, this is your fair warning. Besides that, I enjoyed this movie. My eyes were immediately glued to the screen when I first saw Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, climbing down on a ladder on a telecommunications tower orbiting around Earth. Not to mention, when the tower later collapses, and McBride gracefully jumps down, breaching the Earth’s atmosphere, launching a parachute and breaks his fall onto several trees.


Brad Pitt in Ad Astra. Courtesy of © Fox


Afterward, many positive aspects outweigh the negatives. To start, Roy McBride. From what I felt, Ad Astra tells the narrative about an astronaut who undergoes a personal a voyage of finding yourself, self-reliance, and what’s worth achieving. McBride’s the son of a legend in the Space Program where his father became the first man on Jupiter, Saturn, and near Neptune’s surface.  During this voyage, McBride slowly finds himself by relaying to previous faults he’s experienced, such as ignoring a potential soul mate. Also, McBride relies on himself due to how the government consistently monitors his emotional and physical state 24/7. Sadly, McBride subconsciously shuts down his feelings by remaining calm regardless if he’s in a dangerous situation.

With that, Russell and I further discussed how Brad Pitt’s exceptional acting gave a more profound meaning into the film. “Brad Pitt did an excellent job. Even in the scenes where there is no dialogue, I truly sensed his emotions and hardships through his actions and facial expressions. I enjoyed much of how stoic Brad Pitt was during his scenes when there is a danger. This showed how mentally strong his character was and how far he was willing to go,” said Russell.

Ensuing, the visuals are just so beautiful and illuminating. The Lighting blends with colors the cosmic wonders of asteroids, space shuttles launching, and the planets. Many blockbusters movies like to have gratuitous use of CGI. There was no indication in this space thriller. Furthermore, another friend, Andres, texted me his feelings towards the groundbreaking visuals. “The way this movie was shot gives it a great sense of ubiquity, feeling of being both trapped and watched at the same time.”

Overall, Ad Astra accomplishes in many feats by establishing a wholesome narrative, breathtaking visual effects, and simplistic yet effective acting to create an engaging story. If you would like to hear more of my thoughts, please listen/watch the podcast entitled Basic Nerd Experience. In the episode about Ad Astra, Russell, Andres, and I further dissect into the dramatic effects of this film. Enjoy!

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