What’s more important? The big outside or the small internal? Or are such notions just limits we set our minds on? And at the end big or small doesn’t matter, just how we feel about it?

The question of are we alone in the universe vs spending time with the people we love.

To get an almost impossible task done, one has to be almost machine like. But is that necessary? Can one balance feeling, emotions and be focused on a task? I think it’s possible but Ad Astra breaks down doing vs feeling and sets up a battle of sorts between both.

A form of toxic male masculinity is addressed throughout the film personified by Roy’s relationship with his father. One of the most complex one to one human relationships imo. I know this from the relationship I have with my father and the relationship my father had with his.

For men often is the question when do we let go? When do we be completely vulnerable? Is it OK to be vulnerable? Are we weak if we get sidetracked from our task that we set out to do?

How focused can a person be? Is there such a thing as being too focused on a task to the detriment of everything else? What if the task is the survival of the human race? Is that a sacrifice worth making? The thought crossed my mind that at 0-3 years old is when we decide as parents on how focused we want our children to be. How we treat them when it comes to completing a task and how well that task is done. And that setting is something they will carry on through their lives.

Watching the scene where Roy went off script and had his first (seems like his first) heart to heart talk with his dad made me feel like writing a love letter to my dad. I cried during that scene. To wait for my dad to open up and to tell me how much he loves me, I’ve given up and feel that will not happen ever. Someone has to begin that process and the chances are much more likely it happens with me writing and expressing myself rather than my father first.

To muster up all the reasons I love my dad. I find it hard because at the surface, when I think of my father, I do remember the physical activities we did together, but we hardly ever did connect emotionally or mentally even. The only time I’ve ever seen my dad be vulnerable and cry out loud was at his mother’s funeral. The first and last time. That was about 20 years ago. My issues with being vulnerable, connecting and expressing myself emotionally both internally and externally to a large degree among of course other things is related with this aspect of my relationship with my father.

Having said this, there is a whole epic scene where Roy had to physically (and emotionally) let go of his father and make peace that there comes a point where one has to let our dads go and continue living. But there is forgiveness, love and understanding to be had before that point is reached.

Ad Astra can be summed up with what Roy said to his father,”You found your answer, all we have is us.” in response to Clifford’s soliloquy on his quest to find alien life. To not be alone in this universe. We have to realise the infinite is within maybe more so than without.

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Technical review

I watched this in IMAX but just didn’t like the blurry look. Not a fan of the film blurry look for this film. Maybe they were trying to sell the 70s retro alternate universe tech and thought the blurry film look went with it. The design which I loved had a 70s steam punk feel to it. One of the best extrapolations of modern technology into a scifi story with its own 70s moon landing Saturn feel to the design.

Hoytema who is one of my fav DPs did an excellent job with the closeup framing. Together with Gravity, this is the best film to depict space walking and actually being there and feeling what Roy felt going through what he went through during all those moments where his nerves of steel was put to the test. And this happened plenty of times. Also maybe because I was on the 6th row from the IMAX screen. Only thing is I wish they’ve finally found a way to portray zero gravity that’s not hanging someone from a rope from a ceiling. My mind kept filling in the invisible rope that was rotoscoped that they might as well didn’t bother with the rotoscoping. I’m thinking filming in ultra clear distilled water to portray zero g.

Also I wish they had used the sharpest lens they could get their hands on, like Master Primes with a Red 8K monstro camera. That’s how I would have shot it. What a waste not doing so. The IMAX footage looked like badly shot 1080 blown up to fill the screen. Sigh.

Also excellent music by Max Richter and Nils Frahm. There were shades of Sunshine, Interstellar, Gravity, Blade Runner 2049 and Space Odessey here. All good things. I’m adding this to my top 10 scifi films of all time. Shame on the film shooting vs Red Monstro 8K though.

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