Our Greatest Challenge Is Ourselves: Reviewing James Gray's Magnum Opus Ad Astra


To The Stars.

Like all great science fiction films of our time, Ad Astra is the story of one person’s journey to confront what is always mankind’s greatest challenge. Ourselves. 

On the outset, Astra, written and directed by James Gray, and starring Brad Pitt begins in an unspecified future. Mankind has colonized the moon and Mars. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who’s lost his father to a mission that’s been shrouded in mystery since. Energy surges are putting the earth, mars and the moon in peril. These surges seem to originate from the planet Neptune, the last place Pitt’s character Troy McGuire’s father, (played note perfect by Tommy Lee Jones) was seen. McGuire is dispatched by a secret branch of the American military government to send a message to his father. 

I knew Astra would be heady and heavy going in. This wasn’t going to be an action-packed summer sci-fi movie. At the heart of the story is a character coming to terms with his successes in life at the cost of actually living. As Pitt journeys to find his father, his real journey is to discover himself and what’s held him back. It’s a familiar yet timeless tale that should speak to anyone who’s brave enough to listen.

This film comes to me at a particularly emotionally fraught time in my life. I’ve also realized while on my own journey the fears that have surrounded my every waking moment, keeping me from living better, fuller. Astra is that call to all of us to live. Live without ceasing, cast off your fears. There is only this life. We must live it beautifully and fearlessly.

Jaime M Prater