A Brad Pitt space movie might be just what you fancy but in the hands of pretentious American director James Gray, it’s a space drag.
Brad is so hot right now with his post-Tarantino top off glow, but now he breathes a heavy voice-over narration, like he did in Terence Malick’s Tree of Life and is sent on a long journey to Neptune to search for his astronaut father, Tommy Lee Jones, who went off radar over 15 years ago, when Brad was a nipper.
Jones, long presumed dead, has actually gone rogue and is still out there, sending back powerful surges to Earth which are disrupting the solar system and causing space accidents. What?
Hand-picked by a glinting Col Pruitt (played by Donald Sutherland) and given a tough “psyche eval” to prove scientifically and officially how totally cool he really is, off Brad rockets, on a series of incidental space adventures, starting with a trip to the moon, which by now (this is set ‘some time in the future’) has been colonised and is a kind of Wild West frontier-cum-shopping mall. Like Westfield Stratford.
Brad fends of space pirates as he buggies to the far side of the moon. It’s a good-looking, exciting sequence. And then it’s over, and Brad’s off to Mars, to meet an ex-space girlfriend, then on to Jupiter and Saturn for further, increasingly unlikely and un-illuminating adventures of the sort you get in all space movies.
There’s even a bit where he encounters a rogue ship that’s been overrun by rabid space monkeys. Clearly an experiment has gone wrong here. But that’s another movie, and Brad must press on with his space odyssey, on to Neptune to find his craggy Daddy.
Yes this Apocalypse Now in space, a journey up river to find the rogue Colonel. But it’s ponderous and pretentious and often silly. The script is a bore, the plot drearily linear, the existential philosophy a drag and the ending infuriating. And it’s not an Ad for Astra at all – I couldn’t even spot one Vauxhall logo.