I recently watched the movie Ad Astra, directed by James Gray, with the rest my transition year class, and one thought that I couldn’t get out of my head is that it seemed to be trying too hard to get a reaction out of the viewer. This reminded me of the movie The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, as The Martian seemed to engage the viewer without trying too hard to grip them while having similar themes.
In Ad Astra, the movie tries to get you attached to the main character, Roy McBride (played by Brad Pitt), by showing how bad life has been for him and how he just survives through it, not showing much emotion. The Martian instead does this by just showing the main character, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), pushing through his challenges with a smile on his face, facing all adversity with his brilliant mind, making Mark seem more human as a character than Roy.
There is also barely any dialogue in Ad Astra, there are instead many sweeping cinematic shots with no real meaning except to make the movie seem more philosophical than it is in reality. The Martian, on the contrary, doesn’t rely on sweeping cinematic shots to keep the viewer interested, as it uses dialogue to introduce comedy and happiness to a dire situation.
It also doesn’t help that Brad Pitt doesn’t seem to have any emotion in Ad Astra. Matt Damon just seems to fit the role of Mark Watney perfectly as he shows so much emotion that you can make a connection with the character, unlike Ad Astra.
It honestly appears that Ad Astra was aware of how bad it is compared to The Martian. Some of the promotional posters for Ad Astra are scarily similar to the posters for The Martian.
In my opinion, The Martian is far better than Ad Astra story-wise, but if you want to see some pretty shots of outer space, watch Ad Astra, since it is the only thing Ad Astra does well.
Maybe The Martian is good because it is adapted from the book The Martian by Andy Weir but it still doesn’t excuse how bad Ad Astra is at telling a story.
Karolis Pocius – TY Press