Now showing in Taos: ‘Ad Astra’

Brad Pitt stars as astronaut Roy McBride in 'Ad Astra.' 20th Century Fox

A futurist’s vision of what lies ahead — or not depending on how many pressing needs cry for attention here on terra infirma — has become a paint peeled utilitarian toolbox as time begins to catch up with what is likely possible.

In the new movie directed by Gary Gray, “Ad Astra” (“to the stars” in Latin), Brad Pitt stars as Roy McBride, a straight-ahead astronaut borne of “The Right Stuff” era when test pilots were chosen for their nerves of steel and highly focused ability to keep their heads even when things are falling apart all around them. He is as much part of that toolbox as well, a man whose capability is still needed but not really wanted until something dangerous comes up.

We see his stamina revealed in a first scene when disaster befalls an international space antenna, basically a very tall structure that originates on earth and ends up in space. The idea is based on the concept of a space ribbon, but isn’t tall enough. Anyway, Roy is conducting some kind of maintenance chore when an explosion blows him off the structure and gravity takes over sending him careening back to earth. One assumes he isn’t quite far enough out to burn up upon reentry so he just keeps falling until his parachute opens. While being checked out afterward it is mentioned his heart rate remained steady throughout the ordeal.

Roy is married to a woman named Eve (Liv Tyler), but their relationship is strained because Roy’s amazing ability to remain cool under pressure also means he is distant. Although he is regularly given psychological tests via computer, he sounds like he knows what to say while maintaining superior self-control.

This theme to his personality is tested when a series of enormous electromagnetic pulses start smashing into earth. Then, he is taken aside by officials who tell him how dire the situation is becoming; these pulses are threatening all technology and life itself on the blue marble. They also know what’s causing it.

It’s his dad.

See, Roy is kind of like astronaut royalty. His father, H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), was part of a legendary exploratory mission to the end of our planetary system. Its purpose was to locate a habitable world or even extraterrestrial races because, big surprise, earth is used up. But, somehow out near Neptune, a bad thing happened and now these pulses seem to be coming from the mission. So, because of Roy’s connection, he is chosen to go out there in find out what happened to dear old dad.

Roy’s journey then becomes a blend of “Interstellar” and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” which might be interesting if Gary Gray wasn’t so obvious about where he cribbed his material. And, while the above description sounds like a common space adventure flick, Gray chooses to tell his tale with a contemplative, intellectualist’s edge. He wants his audience to look at space as a place where people work, have disputes and use time as long drawn-out stretches where the mind can play tricks. But, the melancholy doesn’t make us want to watch Brad Pitt slowly fall apart because he wants to reconnect with his father, and yet he doesn’t.

“Ad Astra” wants to be a special kind of space opera but it winds up only partially realized.

Tempo grade: B+

“Ad Astra” is rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

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It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit


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Taos Community Auditorium

From the filmmaking team behind the highly-acclaimed documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years,” this a is is billed as riveting film that lifts the curtain on the icon who brought opera to the people. Academy Award-winner Ron Howard puts audiences front row center for an exploration of The Voice...The Man...The Legend. Luciano Pavarotti gave his life to the music and a voice to the world. This cinematic event features history-making performances and intimate interviews, including never-before-seen footage and cutting-edge Dolby Atmos technology.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 22) and 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 23-25) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit

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It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

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