Spoilers Ad Astra - Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Timelord Victorious, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Surprised to find no thread for this.

    Just came from seeing the movie.
    Got mixed feelings about it, which might change after letting the movie sink in.

    It was certainly an interesting attempt at a character study of an emotionally deattached astronaut who only lived for the mission.
    In the end he finds out the ultimate cost of this uncompromising pursuit of his mission at the expanse of his humanity when he confronted his father.

    The space scenes where very pretty, but we’re playing very fast and loose with science when the story demanded it at times.

    Looking forward to hear more thoughts on this from others.
     
  2. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I thought it was brilliant. It really demands your attention from start to finish. Not sure what the deviations from accepted science were, and they weren't obvious for someone like me, so I guess I don't care.

    Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones give great performances even though the dialogue is limited. I thought it was beautifully shot. Every scene of space was just amazing to look at.
     
  3. Evil Headhunter

    Evil Headhunter Scarecrow Keeper Premium Member

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    I have to admit I was uncertain about this film but the reviews are pretty damn good, so I'll probably go see it this weekend.
     
  4. ElimParra

    ElimParra Screaming Firehawk Premium Member

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    Still thinking about seeing. Might wait a few weeks it. Heard some good stuff about it and something else that makes me happy, with a little reference to something else.
     
  5. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    I've been looking forward to seeing this for some time. I might go next weekend, considering I've already been to the theater once this week for Star Trek: TMP.
     
  6. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I didn't care for it. It felt like a hard sci-fi pastiche that superficially echoed other movies that had actually done their homework (it's incredibly irritating to me that a movie that makes one of its major points by having the characters constantly speak in clipped, formal astronaut jargon also has them constantly say "over and out." "Over" means I am now listening for your reply. "Out" means I'm not listening for a reply. They both mean "This is the last word I am saying in this message"). It was like a fan-film, recreating favorite scenes from other movies for the sheer joy of it without really understanding what was effective about them or going any deeper than what they remembered from earlier movies. The movie's own characters were trite and superficial, with feints in the direction of characterization, as if the filmmakers just wanted to hand me their beat sheet and let me figure it out. It doesn't just leave unanswered questions; the questions themselves are only implied.

    It reminded me of the story I heard once, about how occasionally "literary" fiction writers would try on different genres as a lark, and their science fiction stories were invariably, "Astronauts are stranded on a new planet, and the twist ending is that they're named 'Adam' and 'Eve,'" and they'd be so proud of themselves for being so profound and using space travel as a metaphor and tying together the ancient past and the future in a way one of those pulp sci-fi writers would never be artistic enough to think of. That's what this felt like; a movie made by people who were slumming it in sci-fi and didn't take it as serious as they would a "real" drama.

    Gravity was a better treatment of the hostility and lifelessness of space provoking an existential crisis and emphasizing the meaning of humanity, and didn't have grade-school errors like creatures exploding after a half-second in vacuum, or people crying in zero-g, or standing up and walking on Earth after at least five months in space. The film's version of Mars owed entirely too much to the Wallace building in Blade Runner 2049 with too little reason. And in Alien, there was a logical reason why the distress signal was nonspecific about the distress, as opposed to a sequence where no less than two people are eaten alive by an enraged baboon and neither of them thinks the word "baboon" or even a shriek of agony is worth sending over the radio. Seriously, and people give Prometheus and Covenant grief for how sloppy their characters are in dangerous environments?

    Brad Pitt recognized the anger of a man-eating baboon in himself and his father; did Tommy Lee Jones beat him as a kid? Maybe, there's one nearly-suggestive flashback of him seeming angry during Pitt's childhood, but all other indications and that he never showed any human emotion, and was just a vehicle for bloodless philosophical musing and according-to-regulation procedure that the actual movie shows no indication of understanding. In areas like space travel (or air travel, or sea travel, or firefighting, or driving your damn car down the street), procedures and regulations are written in blood, and people who don't respect that end up being ink for the pen. They do not exist because people speaking in staccato pilot-cadence and using words like "nominal" and "affirmative" are super-cool and you can be just as cool by faking it with whatever you remember from other movies. Great, space is a metaphor, but it's also space. The whale is a metaphor in Moby Dick, but it doesn't grow wings and fly over Ahab's ship, because it still needs to function as a whale.

    Brad Pitt is completely dedicated to his job and his mission, but covers up a lapse by a pilot that nearly got four people killed, after he already noted that that guy was prone to panic in a far less stressful circumstance. That's not the brotherhood of spacemen or some such half-remembered stock horseshit, it's the first line of an accident investigation report that ends with "no survivors." And, sure enough, Captain Panic gets assigned a suicide mission on which the fate of all life depends because he was there (and apparently no one else was), and he immediately shoots an exposed canister of deadly gas (why is there a canister of deadly gas sitting in the open where it can be shot?), and kills himself and his surviving deputy, after one of his equally-incompetent crewmates gets herself killed by bracing for a planned acceleration neck-first. I can only assume Brad Pitt already sent the tape of his piracy back home so everyone knew that the crew of jittery ferry-drivers they decided to send to murder a legendary space-hero ended up tripping over their own dicks the second something unexpected happened and he didn't just murder them all, given the support crew didn't beat the crap out of him when he landed at the end of the movie.

    On the other hand, it'll be a little worth it if it keeps Rambo 5 from winning the weekend.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  7. Evil Headhunter

    Evil Headhunter Scarecrow Keeper Premium Member

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    Yeah, that sums up my feelings about the film as well. I did enjoy the beauty of interplanetary travel and the relative ease (rooted with my long hopes to see it in my lifetime even though I know I won't). The journey was more interesting than the destination and Pitt's mission and its ultimate outcome was rubbish.

    I try not to nitpick physics in space films, but when the filmmakers try to make the claim their film is realistic, things really stand out...badly. Not just the baboon exploding almost instantaneously in a vacuum, the tear in zero-g (which, apparently Pitt fought against and was overruled), and being able to walk on Earth's gravity after months in space. The biggest one that stood out to me is one that many films and shows do far too-often: Passing multiple familiar planets on a direct path to a certain destination, in this case, Pitt's ship passing Jupiter and Saturn while traveling directly from Mars to Neptune. And how about Pitt's one-in-a-quadrillion shot of shooting from the spinning antennae and perfectly reaching he's ship while also going through Neptune's ring without being torn to shreds (regardless of his "shield") and yet somehow his course and speed was never altered? Bleah!
     
  8. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Nightlife, Baby! Moderator

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    We just got back from seeing it.

    It’s a beautifully filmed and scored movie.

    It wasn’t what I expected. I suppose if you go in knowing that outer space has absolutely nothing to do with it, you can enjoy it.

    I’d give it a B-
     
  9. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually passing Jupiter as part of a slingshot acceleration maneuver to get to Neptune faster was probably realistic...
    I wondered if they would do that moments before they showed Jupiter.
    Direct doesn’t have to mean bee line.
     
  10. Evil Headhunter

    Evil Headhunter Scarecrow Keeper Premium Member

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    I'm willing to accept that for maybe one of them for that purpose to conveniently have both lined up in between the two seems like a stretch. Especially considering there was no talk about launch windows from Mars (or even from the Moon). Just go whenever they felt like it.
     
  11. StCoop

    StCoop Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Possibly the most boring film I've ever seen.

    And like all films that claim to be "realistic" SF, full of laughably incorrect nonsense.
     
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  12. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    https://www.facebook.com/100000234208115/posts/3365774853440288?sfns=mo

    Check this out, I played around with a solar system simulation and found that in 2060, a good enough alignment of the planets takes place which allows for the “In the near future” caption at the beginning to fit as well.
     
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  13. Evil Headhunter

    Evil Headhunter Scarecrow Keeper Premium Member

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    Here's a great rundown of all of the science the film got wrong (and what it got right). It covers some of the stuff we talked about and a lot more, including the stuff with cosmic rays which I figured was crap.

    The best part comes at the end:

    Ever heard of a phrase called “nuking the fridge?” That’s the Indiana Jones equivalent of “jumping the shark,” coined after Indy got in a lead-lined fridge to escape a nuclear blast in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Believe it or not that was a lot more plausible than this scene in Ad Astra, but fans hated it. This scene makes Roy look reckless, ill-prepared, and it just isn’t satisfying to the audience. His ship really needs to be an antimatter drive to satisfy other problems anyway—just get him home that way.
    Oh, sorry, I didnt see this post until now. Thanks for that link. That does help resolve that issue, but it also demonstrates the rarity of such an event which the film (and many others) take for granted and present as normal.
     
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  14. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Saw this over the weekend, and.... meh

    I dunno, wanted to like it, but when i walked out at the end, not really sure what happened or why it mattered. Seemed like a collection of events, but nothing really happened; nothing was really accomplished or resolved.

    Random pirate attack on the Moon so we could get a chase scene, but doesn't matter to the story at all. Sutherland is in it for a moment, but doesn't really accomplish anything or even have an impact before he falls away. Random baboon attack on random ship, but so what? Also, given velocities and whatnot, not sure that stopping to help is even possible, much less likely; fuel consumption would be a bitch. Speaking of which, why did he have to ride a nuke to get home? Did they not plan on enough fuel for a return voyage? And why not tether his shuttlepod so he could use it to get back to the ship instead of the jumping nonsense? Even if it can't dock, it can take the hits better and still has control/thrust. Instead, just sorta kicks it away.

    And then the big mission: didn't matter. Went to find answers, found out that daddy went nuts because he didn't find anything. Daddy still goes along with suiting up, leaving, and then tries to kill them both for no reason. Why not just refuse to leave? And what was up with the energy pulses in the first place? What was the point there, again?

    'Guy goes on a series of events, finds nothing, returns alone, probably still has daddy issues'. This one just went nowhere for me...
     
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  15. M'rk son of Mogh

    M'rk son of Mogh Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Can't recommend this movie to anyone. At all.
    Pitt played someone so disconnected from his emotions that there's zero interest in his quest, and the pointless side quests and characters do nothing to help. I wanted to leave the theatre after the baboon scene.

    Though I did think the movie had promise with its opening on the giant space antenna, it unfortunately spiralled out of control much like Pitt's character did until hitting the ground.
     
  16. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    I just don't think anything really connected; it was just a bunch of random stuff that was on the screen. What was the actual 'story' they were trying to tell? Wasn't about exploration, no discovery was made, not a psychological thriller sort of thing, not about resolving family issues even though that was played to for long periods, it just sorta....was there.
     
  17. crookeddy

    crookeddy Commodore Commodore

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    Younger me would have hated it. Older me appreciates it as a metaphor, and loved the cinematography. Would love to see some extras for it to explain some of the questionable parts.

    Also read that there were heavy reshoots adding $20 million to the budget. I wonder what an original cut was like?
     
  18. crookeddy

    crookeddy Commodore Commodore

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    Story was just a vehicle to deliver the message. So were characters and dialogue. I'd describe this movie as an independent movie with a gigantic budget.
     
  19. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    Even then, what was the message? Didn't feel like the movie had one, or at least it didn't convey.
     
  20. crookeddy

    crookeddy Commodore Commodore

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    Brad Pitt's longing for his father, while carrying ill will toward him led to his laser focus obsession for space flight - to the detriment of his personal life. He really had to go face his tormentor face to face and let him go in order to come back a new man. The message was hammered in - not sure how you could not see it.

    Meanwhile the father sacrificed everything, including his family for his obsession. At the end, he achieved a stunning amount, but not the one thing he wanted to achieve. This failure drove him insane.

    It boils down to - laser focus, to the detriment of everything else - bad. Being a well rounded individual - good. Clinging to the past - bad. Confronting your issues and plowing forward - good. Rather simplistic, but demonstrated well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
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