when it comes to exterior shots on planets. Having astronauts cross the surface of the Moon or Mars has a dirtiness that isn't present in other space movies. It helps to create these lived-in regions that feel old, making you buy into the premise further.
It's too bad that the rest of the film doesn't enjoy the same praise. Most of Ad Astra's problems stem from how it tells its story. The plot itself is very simple: it's about an isolated astronaut traveling through space. The problem comes from being reminded that they are lonely in every aspect of their life. It hammers this point home, never letting up; it intercuts flashbacks to support this theme. Even the ultimate goal is for Brad Pitt's character to learn to open himself up to others and embrace others. It's a message you've seen before and you've seen it done better.
Ad Astra is at its best when it relies on Brad Pitt, stunning visuals, and fun details. So what I'm saying is, the rover scene that you catch a glimpse of in the trailer is the best. It even has off-center framing to make it look like it's being shot practically. I didn't particularly love this film, but it's not terrible. If you need your annual fix for an Oscar-bait space movie, this is it.
They reused a shot and it was weird
It's for that reason I prefer the first half to the second because there is more discovery going on in the story at that point. Having all of these characters meet and get to know each other, allows the audience to sympathize to their situation. With the backdrop being a fancy strip club with a dot matrix display for the main stage, there is a flair just not present later on. The obvious standout is Jennifer Lopez as she delivers a great performance that ties the whole movie together. It's not Oscar-worthy like some are saying, but it is the highlight of the cast.
The director, Lorene Scafaria, made some strong choices, some of which worked well and others outstayed their welcome. For instance, the idea of using piano music when depicting emotions in key scenes ended up clashing with other scenes that flanked it later on in the film. The decision to structure the plot around an interview in the same vein as I, Tonya was interesting, but wasn't necessary until the end of the movie. The overabundance of slo-mo shots of the cast making entrances got repetitive, and the little audio trick at the end lost meaning when it was reversed seconds after use. With more practice, I suspect that Scafaria will be a more seasoned filmmaker and that this was a really good start.
The final thing I can say about Hustlers is that the characters are a little ironic. Constance Wu has a line of dialogue that states, "I don't want to make it seem like all strippers are thieves. I don't want to add to that stigma." This was hilarious, not only because the story being told is about strippers committing crimes but that Cardi B has a cameo. She infamously was a stripper before she was a popular performer and actually drugged and stole from men herself. The film tries really hard to put these character's actions into context, but never succeeds in making you feel bad for how they ended up.
A little small in scope and way less crazy than you think it is