‘Ad Astra’ reviews: Critics praise Brad Pitt as the ‘brightest star’ in the space film

Critics can agree on one thing: Brad Pitt’s performance in “Ad Astra” is out of this world.

The science fiction film directed by James Gray, which hits theaters Friday, follows astronaut Roy McBride’s (Pitt) space journey to find his long lost father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones).

USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt said Pitt is “undoubtedly luminous as the brightest star of ‘Ad Astra,'” adding that the film is an “engaging and even hopeful exploration about the consistency of human feelings, no matter where you are in the galaxy.”

“At the center of all this wonder is Pitt, who’s fabulously two for two playing back-to-back heroic figures who are also curiously complex,” Truitt said, referring to Pitt’s performance in “Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” “The depth of his performance is just as integral to the film’s success as the whiz-bang visuals.”

Here’s what others are saying:

Our full review: Brad Pitt rockets to greatness in spiffy space adventure ‘Ad Astra’

The Hollywood Reporter’s Sheri Linden said that although the film “can be stubbornly uninvolving,” there is “no shortage of striking imagery in the space odyssey.”

Linden continued: “Yet of all the film’s eloquent visuals, cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema lights nothing with more care than Brad Pitt’s eyes. Zero-gravity fistfights notwithstanding, those baby blues are where the action is. They’re the movie’s highest-impact special effect.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said Pitt’s performance “anchors the whole movie,” describing him as a “still, calm centre with the pure physical ease and charm of an intergalactic Gary Cooper.” Bradshaw added, “The film is itself an almighty power surge.”

‘Ad Astra’: Brad Pitt’s ‘nether regions’ felt the squeeze of his ‘awkward’ spacesuit

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that “‘Ad Astra’ is still one of the most ruminative, withdrawn, and curiously optimistic space odysseys this side of ‘Solaris.’ It’s also one of the best.”

He described the movie as an “awe-inspiring film about the fear of male vulnerability and the fait accompli of becoming your own father.”

The National Review’s Kyle Smith begs to differ, saying, “‘Ad Astra’ (‘to the stars’) is a semi-silly low-serotonin remake of ‘Apocalypse Now’ in space.” Unfortunately, “‘Apocalypse Now’ was a great movie. ‘Ad Astra’ is merely watchable.”

Smith concluded by saying, “Roy’s dazed musings and ‘Ad Astra’s poky pace frequently place it on the wrong side of the divide between thoughtful and inert.”

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman agreed, saying “the movie’s tagline should have been, ‘In space, no one can hear you cry about your absent-daddy issues.'”

Gleiberman said the story was missing “a genuine wow factor baked into its retro sci-fi aesthetic.”

He continued: “‘Ad Astra’ is a Latin phrase that means ‘to the stars,’ and in case you’re wondering where all this is heading, the answer is Neptune, but the real answer is: toward a standard drama of pain, tears, and reconciliation.”

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