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Ad Astra doesn’t add up. [Movie Review]

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to outer space to figuratively kill two birds with one stone - or one trip. There are electronic waves coming from the heavens threatening earth and this phenomenon leads scientist and high-level government officials to believe that there’s a connection between the waves and a space voyage 30 years earlier led by McBride’s father (Tommy Lee Jones) from which his father never returned.

Despite Brad Pitt’s stellar performance, Ad Astra never really takes off and it gets a Rent It rating. Screenwriters James Gray and Ethan Gross layout the story effectively and clearly. There’s the threat to destroy the world which is likely connected with the McBride’s father space journey decades earlier. But other than that, this story moseys through a series of modestly interesting scenes serving as little more than filler until McBride reaches his final destination.

And those of you who expect Star Wars-type battles and scenes, you’ll be disappointed. Many of the scenes are serene and calm – which probably better represents what outer space is really like. There’s a mildly amusing portion: The film is set in the future where passengers can take commercial flights to the moon. Those wanting the comfort of an on-flight blanket pay a cool, $125!

Again, Brad Pitt does all he can to propel this story into an entertainment sphere. And the cinematography is out of this world, with creative angles and vantage points. However, those features are not enough.

Ad Astra gets a “B” for cast diversity. This is very much a white male-dominated cast. However, Ruth Negga has a major supporting role. Kimberly Elise plays an astronaut, but with very little to say. There are other people of color with visible but minor roles.

Ad Astra is rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images coupled with brief strong language. At 124 minutes, it’s too long.

In the end, Pitt’s performance coupled with the visually stimulating scenes is what gives this film some entertainment value. But don’t see it now. Wait and Rent It

Hope Springs

Ten Points on the movie: Hope Springs:

After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple from Nebraska travels to New England for an intense, week-long counseling sessions to reignite the zest in their relationship. Steve Carell co-stars as the therapist.

It's good to see story starring baby boomer stars.

Meryl Streep shows why she's one of the great actresses of her generation. While Tommy Lee Jones proffers a solid performance, he is outshined a bit by Streep. Steve Carell is nearly perfect as their analyst.

The film exclusively focuses on Streep's and Jones's relationship and their interaction with their therapist.

It drags hopelessly through the middle portions. It would have been stronger with a stimulating subplot, maybe more involvement by their children – a son and a daughter.

The film has its amusing moments such as when the therapist asks the staid and conservative couple about their sexual fantasies and whether they engage in oral sex.

This is a low budget film, $30 million, (yes, that's low budget by Hollywood standards) which will mean that it won't have to do quite as well at the box office to be profitable.

Hope Springs get's a "C" for cast diversity. The cast is small and not a lot of opportunities to squeeze in many performers of color. But it manages to feature some black performers in bit parts such as the cab driver.

Hope Springs gets a Rent It. Intellectually stimulating and definitely the type of movie that is perfect for a wintry Saturday evening with a glass of wine and popcorn.

It's rated PG – 13 and is just under two hours in length.

Ten Points on Films Rating System:

See It – It's worth the time and expense of going to the movie theater.

Rent it – It has some entertainment value, but wait and see it at home.

Dead on Arrival – Not worth your time!

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