Ad Astra James Gray | Review


Published on Sep 11, 2019


After that masterpiece that is the Lost Civilization director James Gray is back behind the camera to remake essentially the same film, by moving the exploration from the Amazon in 1905 (and beyond) to the orbit of Neptune in the near future, not better specified, passing by the blond young Charlie Hunnam at the blond, tired of Brad Pitt, at the end of one of the years most outstanding (if not the goal) of his career after once upon A Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

Both for the work of the 2016 to 2019, recently presented at the Venice film Festival, from which, however, returned home empty-handed, Gray borrows heavily from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and from his counterpart in the film, Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola, but if the journey of Percy Fawcett of Hunnam was followed with a curious eye and admired by both Gray screenwriter that Gray director, both fascinated by the extraordinary feats of a man who was impossible not to love even the defects, in telling that of an aerospace engineer Roy McBride (Pitt) both aspects of Gray author agree on one thing, and that is that this protagonist lends itself more to compassion than to esteem.

Cold, detached, lost and tragic, when the movie starts, McBride is emotionally adrift as emotionally adrift was Well Willard Martin Sheen in the masterpiece of Coppola, and just as in that film, a room full of officers, the summons to entrust him with a mission made up of the dossiers incomplete and half-truth: in the files there is the Kurtz-Marlon Brando but the Clifford McBride, Tommy Lee Jones, who is not a refugee in Cambodia, but in a space station in orbit around Neptune; the mission of Roy is go to recover because from that space station, sent there to investigate on the existence of other alien life forms, comes the danger that threatens to wipe out the entire Solar System.

Gray is the first director, after the attempts of Ridley Scott's The Martian, Christopher Nolan with Interstellar and Damien Chazelle with the First Man manages to detach himself entirely from the aesthetic values imposed from 2001: a Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick's with regard to the staging of the bodies that move through space (Jupiter, the planet toward which he was traveling the film of 1964, appears only fleetingly, as if Gray wanted to declare his intention to override those dictates or visual), and wanting to bring the Gravity Alfonso Cuarón, but he created an aesthetic that is her – Ad Astra is unique in the way that he is able to look at the wonders of space without even the slightest participation of the emotions.

There is the wonder of discovery in his film, which instead oozed from every frame of Lost Civilizations, there is, if anything, the terror (the horror would have defined Brando) to see the man build malls on the Moon and stations of underground on Mars, to sow to the Solar System, a capitalism that is already corroding the Earth and now is looking for new guests to consume. Between sequences already a cult, many voice-over (more numerous than those of the films of Coppola, a choice justified by the solitude of the journey of the protagonist) and a mass in a scene from masterpiece, the film errs, unfortunately, only the final, neo light inconsistently positive and optimistic at the end of an immense fresco of the darkness that otherwise would have been perfect under every point of view.

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