Brad Pitt in 'Ad Astra'

Trailer for Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra Is the Latest Space Drama to Explore Daddy Issues

More like "Dad Astra" am I right? I'll show myself out.
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20th Century Fox has just dropped the first trailer for its upcoming space epic Ad Astra, Latin for “To The Stars”. The film stars Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride and is directed by James Gray (The Lost City of Z). The film’s synopsis reads “Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.”

Tommy Lee Jones plays Pitt’s father, and Liv Tyler plays Pitt’s girlfriend back on Earth. The trailer is filled with some beautiful. striking shots of outer space, including a satellite explosion that sends Pitt hurtling back to Earth. We learn that Earth is suffering from some sort of attack known as “the surge”, and Pitt is enlisted to find his long-lost father and figure out what his covert mission has to do with what’s happening on Earth.

With its cinematography and tone, Ad Astra immediately brings to mind other recent elevated sci-fi films like Gravity and Interstellar. The film also appears to join the pantheon of outer space films centered on daddy issues. This is hardly a new conceit: similar terrain was covered in Robert Zemeckis’s 1997 film Contact, where Jodie Foster’s character encounters an extraterrestrial who has taken the form of her father.

Issues of fatherhood also anchor Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, where both the heart and the conceit of film rest on Matthew McConaughey’s relationship with his daughter. Similarly, in Gravity, Sandra Bullock’s journey of survival mirrors her grief over her daughter’s death. First Man explores these themes as well, as it focuses on a grieving Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) recovering from the death of his daughter.

It’s no surprise that films about outer space use family dynamics as an emotional cornerstone. After all, these relationships serve to personalize narratives that exist outside the scope of our experience. What better way to humanize the alien isolation of deep space than to tap into our most essential human relationships?

Expanding the emotional bandwidth of these films not only elevates the genre, but can also bring a gritty realism that grounds these films. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, blending awe-inspiring visuals with intimacy and emotion.

Gray said of the film, “The science-fiction genre is so tricky because there are elements of fantasy usually involved, and there are also fantastical elements. What I’m trying to do is the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie and to basically say, ‘Space is awfully hostile to us.'”

Ad Astra hits theaters on September 20th, 2019.

What do you think of the first trailer? Will you be seeing Ad Astra when it hits theaters?

(via IndieWire, image: 20th Century Fox)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.