James Gray

Best films:
, /10

James Gray (USA, 1969) debuted with Little Odessa (1994).

The Yards (2000).

We Own The Night (2007).

Two Lovers (2008).

The Immigrant (2013).

The Lost City of Z (2016).

Ad Astra (2019) is an overlong and implausible sci-fi odyssey. The protagonist is simply a new version of the invulnerable hero of Hollywood movies, and the sci-fi setting is dejavu, already seen in thousands of sci-fi movies. There are pointless and tedious detours. There is little psychological study. The father could have been a Fitzcarraldo of the galaxy but his madness is barely sketched. The father-son relationship is also left at a superficial stage. Last but not least, the acting is amateurish. All of these themes are left unfinished. All together they amount to a decent film, but also to a lot of missed opportunities to create a truly compelling story.

An astronaut almost dies when a "power surge" strikes a giant antenna where he is working. These accidents have been recurring. Roy is summoned by his commanders who inform him that the power surges come from Neptune. Roy is the son of a famous astronaut, a national hero who left for a mission to find extraterrestrial life, the LIMA project, and never came back. They inform him that they now believe that Roy's father is alive, orbiting around Neptune, and that the power surge comes from his spaceship that was armed with antimatter. They need to contact his father but his father is not responding and they want Roy to try. Roy accepts. He is famous for always being cold like a robot. The first step is to reach Mars because all the stations powerful enough on Earth have been damaged by the power surges. They assign him an old colonel as an escort. The old colonel reveals that he had an argument with his father: his father considered him a traitor for abandoning the LIMA project. The colonel and Roy travel to the Moon. On the way to the launching pad for Mars they are attacked by pirates. After the attack the colonel has heart problems and has to withdraw from the trip, but first he alerts Roy that the command is determined to destroy his father's spaceship if his Roy fails to communicate with him. Roy boards the spaceship for Mars. During the trip the captain receives an SOS from a research station and decides to help, against Roy's advice. Roy and the captain board the research station but find only monster monkeys that kill the captain. The spaceship continues its trip and last successfully on Mars thanks to Roy's skills. The Martian station is directed by a woman, Helen, but even she is not allowed to attend the top-secret meeting about Roy's mission. Roy reads a scripted message for his father that is broadcast to Neptune. No answer. Roy reads again the message but this time adds personal details about his life as a child. This time the officials escort him out and tell him that he will be sent back to Earth. He realizes that his father replied and now they don't need him anymore. While he is locked in a room, Helen visits him and reveals that she is the daughter of a couple who traveled with his father on the LIMA mission. They too never came back. Helen, however, knows the real story and shows Roy a video of his father telling his superiors that there was a mutiny and he had to kill the entire crew. His father sounds mad, obsessed with the search for extraterrestrial life, determined never to come back. Helen knows that Roy's crew is bound for Neptune to destroy his father's spaceship. Roy wants to be part of the mission and Helen helps him board the spaceship as it is taking off. When the crew realizes that Roy is on board, they try to kill him. Instead they all end up killed. However, Roy tells his superiors that he wants to complete the mission and destroy his father. He reaches Neptune and prepares the nuclear bomb that will destroy his father's spaceship. Roy enters the spaceship and finds dead bodies floating around. He then finds his father who is almost dead. His father tells him that the power surge was caused by the mutiny and he has been trying to solve the problem. The crew had revolted because they had found no trace of extraterrestrial life but he madly insisted on continuing the mission. His father is determined to stay because he doesn't care about Earth, nor about Roy himself, but Roy talks him into leaving with him. As they leave the spaceship, however, his father frees himself and lets himself drift in space, determined to continue his suicidal quest for extraterrestrial life. Roy blows up his father's spaceship and therefore ends the power surges that threatened the Earth, and he flies back to Earth where his estranged wife is waiting for him.
(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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