Ad Astra (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Ad Astra 4K ReviewAd Astra is a film I purposely avoided in the theater.  I heard way too many people complain that it was boring, was trying to copy off of 2001 and more.  However, my main reason for not wanting to see it stems with the fact that father and son stories bore the bejesus out of me (here’s looking at you 24 Season 6).  On the flip side though I love science fiction so I knew despite not seeing this one theatrically I was going to visit it as soon as it was released on the 4K format.  It’s safer that way in the pocketbook me thinks.  You’ll also have the chance to discover a diamond in the rough where you may have just dismissed it rudely by judging it on the surface without properly diving in.  Such is the story of Ad Astra with me.  The film releases on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray this week and if you follow me down below I’ll not only share my innermost deep thoughts with you on the subject, but also what you can expect with the release.  Blast off!

Ad Astra 4K Review


Ad Astra is produced, co-written and directed by James Gray.  It stars Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland and very underutilized Liv Tyler, but I digress there.  The story revolves around an astronaut (Pitt) who ventures out to space to search for his father (Jones) whose experiments are threatening all mankind.  Sadly though, and I painfully say this because I love this genre so much, Ad Astra really didn’t perform stellar at the box office only making $127 million worldwide against its $100 million dollar budget.  

Brad Pitt’s character here, Roy McBride, is the astronaut son of the world’s most infamous astronaut (played by Jones).  His father was the first to venture so deep into space all the way to Neptune.  Long thought to have been killed on the job there are many who believe Roy’s dad is still alive and kicking.  Roy is therefore enlisted on a top secret mission to travel to Mars and reach out via radio to his dad as a plea for him to stop an experiment he’s conducting that’s causing dangerous power surges around the solar system.  Whether Roy’s dad knows it or not he kind of believes he’s on God’s mission to discover intelligent life outside of our human existence.  The journey to discover whether Roy’s father alive is enthralling.  The problem is once he gets to his destination it’s an absolute bore.  Sure it’s haunting and thrilling at the same time, but let’s face it Ad Astra is all about the mission first and foremost.  That’s where I’m very thankful here for without said mission the father and son story would have been a total bust here.  It’s time for Roy to man up and discover the errors of his life and not let his father’s mad legacy define him.  I can sure get behind that!  And that’s how Ad Astra ultimately works for me,

While Ad Astra is very interesting to me from an interstellar space travel perspective ultimately its father and son story was a bore like I expected.  However, outside of that father and son dynamic there was so much cool stuff that actually outweighs that plot point.  There was a gun battle on the moon, a high speed chase, bumpy space travel, exotic scenery, terror and peril and so much more sci-fi goodness.  So as a result of what I just exclaimed the enthralling part for me is obviously the science fiction and action element of it all.  I also really loved the stone cold, powerful performance that Brad Pitt delivered.  I see a lot of nods towards 2001 sprinkled throughout, but don’t get the hatred for Ad Astra saying it’s a boring ripoff of it.  It’s not!  If you’re a sci-fi geek like me, it’s actually an exciting thrill ride with lots a pretty sci-fi scenery.  I would so go on this trip!  You can have a lot of fun with it outside of the Pitt-Jones relationship.  And I’m going to stop while I’m ahead here as I fear you’re growing as sick as I am talking about that storyline.  Sorry!

FYI:  For a slightly deeper dive into Ad Astra make sure to reference Peter Paras’ film review of it HERE. 

Ad Astra 4K Review


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Fox’s Ad Astra.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • HDR: Yes (HDR10)
  • Size: BD-66
  • Clarity/Detail: Ad Astra was shot on film with a variety of cameras and then finished at a 4K DI.  Yahoo!  That means the grain is intact too!  Flashbacks and different video sources produce various results in the image clarity department, but ultimately this one’s a looker right down to the O2 Actuator verbiage on Pitt’s astronaut backpack.  The verbiage is so pronounced and easily visible.  This one’s definitely crisp!  Close=ups reveal the finer details like stubble and wrinkles to the textures like the stitching in badges or wardrobe adorned in this one.
  • Depth: This is a space movie so you’ll just have to imagine plenty of vastness and depth in this one.  There are gorgeous views above the Earth from the international space antennae.   Another great example includes the long hallways in the various space stations on East, moon and even Mars.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are consistently deep and inky throughout.  
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are mostly natural, but certain ones do pop like bright yellows, oranges and even the blues in flight crew uniforms.  However, sometimes the colors do get a bit murky and yellowish in tone, but it’s stylistic in nature.   
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural and authentic throughout this 4K presentation here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There are zero nasty artifacts or noise to be found here.  Things are crystal clean with the exception of the very fine grain throughout the presentation.  

Ad Astra 4K Review


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Fox’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Ad Astra.  It’s worth noting that while the 4K Disc presentation includes an Atmos surround track the 1080p Blu-ray does not, but instead offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 one.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The audio presentation is well mixed with plenty of authority, prioritization and directionality throughout.  Best of all nothing gets lost in the shuffle, not even the dialogue amongst all the thrusters.  When speaking of a sci-fi film with this kind of subject matter one always hopes the dynamics are wide throttle opened and they are.  There’s even a slight horror element to this one too complete with jump scares thanks to the audio on this track.  There are a few moments where you would not expect to jump, but you do.  
  • Height: Examples of Atmos include pulses, power surges, explosions, alarms and the many other overhead moments like liftoffs and more.  
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel, by trait of the subject matter, has to be heavy hitting and aggressive to match the many blast offs and associated thrusters.  I’m pleased to report it is!  You feel every explosion, bump and bruise, turbulence and more with the utmost of heftiness.  
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels are engaged throughout with discrete directionality as both the effects and score surround you in immersion.  The action sequences and flight ones put you in the middle of it all just like a good surround track should.  
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialog levels throughout the presentation are loud, clear and consistent.  Nothing gets lost under the action or anything else.

Ad Astra 4K Review


There’s not a heck of lot to sift through here, but there’s some minor engagement to be had with the supplemental features here in this Ad Astra 4K package.  The 4K UHD disc contains the Audio Commentary with James Gray also found on the 1080p Blu-ray disc included in this package.  However, everything else that is listed below can only be watched via the Blu-ray Disc.  There’s also a redemption code good for redeeming the feature here in 4K via the Movies Anywhere service.  Come on let’s dive in below and explore everything you’ll find here with this supplemental package.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 3:25) – There are only a total of two here with Optional Audio Commentary by Director James Gray.
    • The Void
    • Epilogue
  • To the Stars (HD, 8:35) – This is your basic EPK style offering with interviews, scenes from the film and more.
  • A Man Named Roy (HD, 8:45) – This one is all about Brad Pitt’s character and features some behind the scenes footage of the actor complete with zero gravity moments.  Boom!
  • The Crew of the Cepheus (HD, 9:08) – This one explores the other characters of the ship and the long journey they had to their destination.  
  • The Art of Ad Astra (HD, 11:15) – The title of this extra kind of gives it away…the looks of Ad Astra that is!
  • Reach for the Stars (HD, 7:21) – This one finds the cast and crew discussing space travel and more.
  • Audio Commentary – This feature audio commentary is with Director James Gray (this one is found on both the 4K and 1080p Blu-ray Discs)

Ad Astra 4K Review


There you have it folks.  Ad Astra not be an interstellar journey that Kubrick’s 2001 was, but there’s still a lot to appreciate and cherish with this space travel feature.  First and foremost there’s the sci-fi space travel aspect of it.  That part is riveting.  Second, Brad Pitt does a fine job with his performance.  Last but certainly not least, there’s this 4K package itself.  Things look and sound “out of this world.”  If you’re a fan of Ad Astra, then there’s no denying what your next move should be.  Of course buy it!  If you’re just curious or a little apprehensive of it like I was, then I would encourage you to seek the rental route first to ascertain whether or not Ad Astra is a rocket ride you want to be on.



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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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