Ad Astra

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Ad Astra Movie Poster Image
Pitt flies high to reach emotional depths in sci-fi drama.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 22 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Part of life's purpose is finding human connection. Strength comes from vulnerability. Prayer and God's presence in the universe are portrayed positively.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Roy is a measured man who exerts self-control, demonstrates courage, maintains calm under intense pressure (though not all of his decisions yield ideal results). The team of scientists, technicians, astronauts, and high-ranking brass in aerospace is diverse in terms of age, gender, race. 

Violence

A wild animal fatally attacks a human; it happens off-screen, but viewers see the gory remains. Several deaths as a result of guns, explosions in a war zone, pressurized head explosions (quick but intense/disturbing), a stabbing, an implied suicide. People fall to their death from a high platform during a natural disaster.

Sex

Flashbacks reference a failed romantic relationship.

Language

Infrequent strong language, including "s--t," "son of a bitch," "what the hell" and "goddamn," plus a use of "f--king" (paired with "sucks"). Someone flips the bird in jest. "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.

Consumerism

Brands are shown in an unflattering way in conjunction with a commercial space trip to the moon (on Virgin Atlantic) with terminals that reflect airport terminals (Subway, DHL, Applebees are among logos seen).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Astronauts take a prescription pill mandated by the government for space travel.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ad Astra is a stunning, thoughtful sci-fi drama starring Brad Pitt. The title is Latin for "through hardships to the stars," and while the film has all the trappings of a great space adventure, space travel is just the setting. This is really the emotional odyssey of a man who's trying to make peace with his conflicted feelings about his father (Tommy Lee Jones) -- and therefore it's not especially likely to entertain most teens. Still, Pitt's character, Major Roy McBride, is an admirable man -- courageous, calm, and thoughtful -- who's living in a future where it appears that race, gender, and age have equal professional footing. Sci-fi action includes guns, moon battles with explosions, solar flares, and other things that might go wrong in space, including a jarring animal attack that isn't shown but has gruesome results (which are shown). Characters die, including via a brief but intense/disturbing head explosion due to pressure issues. Much of the sound is muted through the quiet of a spacesuit, so this may be a good choice for those with audio sensitivities. Faith-focused families will appreciate elements such as prayer and positive acknowledgements of God's presence in the universe. Strong language is used sparingly but includes "hell" and "goddamn" and a possible use of "f--king."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byJohn K. September 21, 2019

Thoughtful, Beautiful & Powerful

I saw Ad Astra with my 11.5 year-old son. He gave it an “A” rating, and so do I. Ad Astra is an intelligent psychological chess game, exploring parent/child i... Continue reading
Adult Written byCriticus September 23, 2019

Ad Astra Per Aspera

"Through hardships to the stars". An apt title for this intergalactic odyssey of downbeat mystery and conflict set upon by our stoic journeyer, Roy Mc... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDustin Henderson September 20, 2019

Ad Astra is a Solidly Crafted Drama With Some Flaws

(WARNING- MILD SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS)
Ad Astra is a science-fiction drama starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Liv Tyler. It takes place i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bypeopleparlor May 12, 2020

Very Disappointing

I was expecting maybe a little too much when I went into this movie, but I definitely didn't get enough. I was extremely disappointed when this movie ended... Continue reading

What's the story?

After his father (Tommy Lee Jones) goes missing on an expedition to search for alien life near Neptune, aeronautics engineer Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) goes on a mission to find him in AD ASTRA. Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, and John Ortiz co-star.

Is it any good?

"Daddy issues" in all their forms may be humanity's greatest common experience, and so writer-director James Gray's space drama will be relatable to most adult viewers. Decades after his legendary father is presumed dead during a space exploration, Roy has come to realize that he's created a life that echoes his dad's -- perhaps as a connection, but also as an escape. Gray smartly uses the self-contained existence inside a spacesuit to represent the emotional barrier that Roy has created to prevent true human connection.

Every shot is perfectly arranged, and the cinematography and visual effects are stunning -- it's almost impossible to believe you're not truly passing by Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. And, get ready to see a different Brad Pitt. There's no sandwich eating or coffee slurping here -- in fact, one scene has Pitt hooking up to a feeding tube in space, almost as proof that he can act without his hallmark crutch. Portraying a calm, cool, collected character could be a challenge, but Pitt's eyes express everything; when the stoic major allows himself to express the smallest amount of emotion, it's the audience who cries.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Roy demonstrates self-control in Ad Astra. Why is that a positive character strength? Roy's self-control seems to have arrived at the cost of bottled-up emotions. Is there a healthy way to express yourself while retaining control?

  • What's the importance of human connection? Why is social connectedness different from person-to-person relationships? Do you think someone might choose loneliness?

  • What's your takeaway from the film? It's a transformative journey -- does that kind of story need to have a message? Do you think you'll notice and learn the lessons life teaches you?

  • What do you think about the film's prediction about the future of the moon as a tourist destination and war zone? What do you think the future of space travel will look like? 

  • Author Arthur C. Clarke famously said, "Either we're not alone in the universe, or we are, and both are equally terrifying." What do you think? 

Movie details

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