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JohnC
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I enjoyed it but I totally appreciate this is not going to be a film for everyone.  I guess the film I would most compare it to is Arrival.  No spoilers there as plot is entirely different but if you are fine with that kind of pacing, along with having to think about what you are watching then you will likely enjoy.

 

7.5 outta 10 from me.

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9 minutes ago, Waggo said:

I enjoyed it but I totally appreciate this is not going to be a film for everyone.  I guess the film I would most compare it to is Arrival.  No spoilers there as plot is entirely different but if you are fine with that kind of pacing, along with having to think about what you are watching then you will likely enjoy.

 

7.5 outta 10 from me.

Sounds good to me. I've got Monday off, so will likely see it then.

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Just back and I thought it was good, but the hyperbole is a bit head-scratching. It looks good and sounds great (the soundtrack is even better than the visuals) but it flows entirely in one gear. 

 

Spoiler

It's much in the vein of New Hollywood sci-fi, but instead of having an honest ending it's a complete cop-out.

 

It doesn't have the right emotional kick, and acknowledging that this is the end of all things, sending the data back but losing his life, would have been the gut punch the film needed. 

 

Good enough, interesting enough (it's kind of like Interstellar directed by Terence Malick) but not brilliant. 

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I enjoy hard sci-fi and absolutely adore Interstellar. I was hoping for more of the same but this was just so boring. Cinematography was poor and it just lacked all emotion. 

Probably scraped a 5/10 for me. Just. 

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33 minutes ago, tbb said:

I enjoy hard sci-fi and absolutely adore Interstellar. I was hoping for more of the same but this was just so boring. Cinematography was poor and it just lacked all emotion. 

Probably scraped a 5/10 for me. Just. 

 

Completely agree.

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Some of the stuff in this niggled at me tbh. 

 

Spoiler

I didn't really understand how the power surges were being generated or why his dad was attacking Earth, was it explained and I missed it? His ship had that blue crackly antimatter bit, but that seemed to disappear when they were doing the space walk at the end.

 

The way he snuck into the rocket on Mars, was that badly edited or did he really hang off the side as it took off before climbing onboard?

 

Why were the Moon pirates aggressively attacking them, they didn't seem to have anything with them of any value - especially compared to what was available in the Moon mall.

 

Sending the science crew on the mission to save the Earth after they'd just lost their commander, like there was nobody else more qualified, was odd. 

 

My confusions aside, I really dug

 

Spoiler

Climbing out onto the antenna. The surprise on the distress ship, did not see that coming. All the space travel stuff was rad, really felt like gong on some kind of star trek. The flashback with his wife being pushed away was powerful stuff. The chill room! The undercurrent of government control was pretty creepy and effective on Mars. 

 

There's lots to like, but ultimately it felt unoriginal - like Apocalypse Now, mixed with Interstellar and Disney's The Black Hole directed by somebody who has watched a Malick film - but cold as ice. Still, happy to spend time in the company of Brad Pitt. 

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I loved it. Yet another great Sci Fi film for 2019. Turning out to be one hell of a year for the genre (in particular slow moody Sci Fi).

 

The music was fantastic. I was delighted to see in the end credits that it was by Max Richter, who did the phenomenal score for The Leftovers.

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So it was...ok. It's not a great spectacle - by which I mean there aren't a great number of shots that you be happy to stare out for ages (though some nice Earth stuff), the plot is fairly meandering rather than frenetic and a lot of the film is watching Pitt pull sadface.gif

 

And yet there is something about it; there's a brutalist architectural approach here - this isn't nice, shiny, glossy space, this is functional and gritty. There's some social commentary in there, both from Pitt's narration and the set design and there's an overall message that you can choose to take either way - but this isn't a great thinker of a film either. I think the film is missold completely by the trailer and people should know that this is not an action film in any way.

 

But yeah, it was ok. If you get cheap cinema tickets and have a couple of hours to kill it isn't the worst thing in the world.

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There was stuff I liked, but there was also stuff that also really took me out of it.

 

Spoiler

The whole, apparently enforced, emotionless feel was a bit weird and just felt bad to me.

 

One of the things which I couldn't buy was the aforementioned sneaking onto the Mars rocket. But even worse than that was jumping through Neptune's rings. Nah.

 

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Saw this today, I have to say I thought it was terrible.

 

I got the feeling that at one point in time this may have been a rather interesting slightly abstract film that then had the Hollywood treatment applied as it possibly didn't play well in previews or something as the Bladrunner OG style voiceover was very incongruous and the editing all over the shop, it felt like they shoehorned in some peril and traditional plot elements and then the bit with the father at the end was rather unsatisfactory, it was just a mess.

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On 19/09/2019 at 19:22, tbb said:

I enjoy hard sci-fi and absolutely adore Interstellar. I was hoping for more of the same but this was just so boring. Cinematography was poor and it just lacked all emotion. 

Probably scraped a 5/10 for me. Just. 


In what way poor?  What were you wanting from it?  I can sort of see it from a production design where certain locations felt a bit “Which multi-storey carpark did you film this in?” but I thought the brutalism worked, as mentioned above.

 

I thought the cinematography was a high point.  The obsession with reflections, especially with the character visors so you could see what they see and the reaction.  And when the gold visors are down giving a completely reflective surface those were used to great effect, especially when they opened an airlock into darkness and a reflected black hole opened up on the character’s faces.  Lots of Kubrick-esque one point perspective but breaking the symmetry either through set design or in places where it was symmetrical not shooting square but at an angle so the line of symmetry doesn’t run horizontally or vertically so it doesn’t read as symmetrically.

 

I would have ended it earlier, more ambiguously

when he shoots off towards earth with the explosion

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On 20/09/2019 at 12:11, SpagMasterSwift said:

Some of the stuff in this niggled at me tbh. 

 

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I didn't really understand how the power surges were being generated or why his dad was attacking Earth, was it explained and I missed it? His ship had that blue crackly antimatter bit, but that seemed to disappear when they were doing the space walk at the end.

 

 

Spoiler

He wasn't attacking Earth - that was a red herring set up to make us think this might end up like Apocalypse Now / Event Horizon, with the guy gone mad and rogue. But he didn't cause the surges to happen. It's not deliberate. He explains to his son that this was accidental damage to the antimatter core and he (presumably) can't shut it down, the damage being caused when the last batch of his crew mutinied and he killed them. Presumably there was an explosion etc. Why this shit is now hitting Earth isn't explained, but it's kinda immaterial anyway. This really isn't hard scifi in the Asimov sense. This is just a McGuffin for the emotional, spiritual stuff (that doesn't quite work imo as I've tried to explain above). 

 

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I might have got it wrong, but thought that:

Spoiler

Daddy Lee Jones hadn't made any attempts to deactivate the Maguffinator, as he was still convinced it was his only chance at contacting ALF. 

 

Further thoughts on the final act:

Spoiler

 

I actually thought one of two things were going to happen to rescue the plot. Either 1) we find out the whole thing was a stress test for some other - more plausible - mission, such as finding water elsewhere in the solar system perhaps. That would have given more weight/credence to the odd self-psych-Eval bits. 

 

Or that 2) this was a test being carried out by a higher form of life, as an intro to alien thinking 101. 

 

Either of those plots, derivative though they are, are better than "Bye dad. Ooh, this shock wave will propel me all the way to Earth no bother. This thinly-panelled space craft won't be penetrated by the radiation of a nearby weaponised nuclear explosion!

 

Hey, I'm home, I'm fine and also my mental health's all good now... How are you?" bullshit we got lumbered with. 

 

 

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I wish I'd felt that was the case, and I think that would have made for a better (and, as you say, more depressing) ending. But I didn't get that from it - I thought he was saying/playing it for real. It's just y'know - Brad Pitt. I like him, but he's not the most nuanced actor.

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3 hours ago, Gorf King said:

I liked it well enough. I enjoyed it. But it's way, way short of being a masterpiece imo.

Yeah, snap. 

 

There's a lot to like, specifically all the space stuff. Some wonderful shots and scenes. 

Spoiler

Not only was the mayday scene really well done, the actual station looked like it was straight out of Elite. 

 

But I didn't like the ultimate message this film had. Whether they were going for a message or not, I don't know. But I didn't like that, at the end, the takeaway was "we are alone". What exacerbated that for me was the sprinkling of religion throughout the film. 

 

I dunno, at the end I just felt the filmmakers wanted to point out that, we're all we've got, and should put faith into God. 

 

That said, the two seemingly most religious characters in the film (McBride senior, and the original Captain of the ship to Mars) die nasty deaths. So perhaps I've made a daft mental leap. 

 

Overall the end fell flat for me. 

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6 minutes ago, Thor said:

Yeah, snap. 

 

There's a lot to like, specifically all the space stuff. Some wonderful shots and scenes. 

  Hide contents

Not only was the mayday scene really well done, the actual station looked like it was straight out of Elite. 

 

But I didn't like the ultimate message this film had. Whether they were going for a message or not, I don't know. But I didn't like that, at the end, the takeaway was "we are alone". What exacerbated that for me was the sprinkling of religion throughout the film. 

 

I dunno, at the end I just felt the filmmakers wanted to point out that, we're all we've got, and should put faith into God. 

 

That said, the two seemingly most religious characters in the film (McBride senior, and the original Captain of the ship to Mars) die nasty deaths. So perhaps I've made a daft mental leap. 

 

Overall the end fell flat for me. 

Spoiler

I felt that both the emotionlessness and religion were parts of this world which were encouraged, at least in the military. We didn't really see outside of the military.

 

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11 minutes ago, Thor said:

Yeah, snap. 

 

There's a lot to like, specifically all the space stuff. Some wonderful shots and scenes. 

  Hide contents

Not only was the mayday scene really well done, the actual station looked like it was straight out of Elite. 

 

But I didn't like the ultimate message this film had. Whether they were going for a message or not, I don't know. But I didn't like that, at the end, the takeaway was "we are alone". What exacerbated that for me was the sprinkling of religion throughout the film. 

 

I dunno, at the end I just felt the filmmakers wanted to point out that, we're all we've got, and should put faith into God. 

 

That said, the two seemingly most religious characters in the film (McBride senior, and the original Captain of the ship to Mars) die nasty deaths. So perhaps I've made a daft mental leap. 

 

Overall the end fell flat for me. 

 

The end fell flat for me too (or a lot flatter than it should have), for the reasons I've already given. But

 

Spoiler

I don't think the film was saying 'put your faith in God.' I think it was an essentially humanist film. 'Put your faith in each other,' is what I think it was trying to say. Not in the search for something bigger and better than us, because there is nothing. It was quite anti-corporate as well, in the sense of being anti people-as-machines, or cogs in a machine (or maybe anti military). Trust your human feelings, and express them.

 

Edit: semi-snap.

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I saw it yesterday and agree with most of the sentiment in this thread, part of me likes it, part of me finds there isn't much to it and part of me just likes looking at space on massive screen.  Enjoyable but not as good as other more recent space films such as Gravity, The Martian or Interstellar.

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I really enjoyed this and think is stands up well compared to recent SF fare. Despite the voiceover explaining Pitt's every thought I still found plenty to wonder about, and I'm still thinking about it a lot this morning. It's more focused on the characters rather than the science, despite feeling very grounded, so I didn't get taken out of the film by any potential scientific inaccuracies - the technology of the time was left vague. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey outwards and the different look of each stage - getting darker and more bleak the further he got from the sun. It definitely nailed that feeling of awe and fear that the best science fiction films manage. I wasn't bored in the least.

 

Spoiler

 

The psycho baboons bit, though - what the fuck? Not since the Guggenheim shootout in Clive Owen starrer 'The International' have I seen an action scene so shoehorned in. It had no bearing on anything. We'd already seen how cool Pitt is under pressure during the lunar shootout. Taking the ship's captain out of the equation had very little bearing on the plot. Those action scenes combined with the literal-minded voiceover definitely felt like some dumbing-down occurred to make it more mainstream. That said, the space horror elements were well done in and of themselves. It reminded me a bit of Peter Hyams' Outland in that respect - interplanetary outposts as the new frontier where life is tough and the environment can kill you in a second.

 

Luckily, though, the ending seemed to survive intact, which despite the lack of evil extraterrestrial forces was as downbeat as they come. If Pitt had chosen to die out there as well, I would've come home thoroughly depressed! So I'm pleased he got back - there needed to be a ray of hope.

 

I liked the idea that in the future the search for intelligent life outside our solar system had, for a time, become a crusade, driving humanity outwards and creating its own fanatics. Interesting that Spacecom seemed to mandate or encourage religious belief in God as well. In fact the whole culture of Spacecom was effectively creepy. 

 

 

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On 21/09/2019 at 21:05, Gorf King said:

This didn’t quite work for me. It’s a good film in some ways, with some great moments, and a strong central concept. But the execution lets it down quite a bit.

 

Lots of spoilers.

 

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I’ve heard talk of this being a cross between all sorts of other films. 2001, Apocalypse Now, even Event Horizon and so on. But I think the feeling it was most trying to evoke was both conceptually and in execution a spiritual cousinhood with Terrence Malick. The concept was strongly rooted in something like The Tree of Life - funnily enough, starring Brad Pitt - and in execution it tried to mimic Malick’s dense voiceover. But the writing and delivery just didn’t have anywhere near the grace or intelligence to pull it off.

 

That central concept is strong. The man who by nature is so distant from his family, so emotionally cast adrift from his species, that he not only heads out to find another species - anything, just not humans - he also sacrifices the lives of all his crew with no regard for their humanity, and at the end prefers to die alone in the cold arms of space rather than live in those of his son, even though the latter has travelled billions of miles to save him, to say, ‘I love you,’ and bring him home. Because Earth is the last place he wants to be, and the last place he wanted to be even when he was there. ’I never loved you or your mother. There’s nothing for me there,’ is a stone-cold brushoff that should have played like a hammer blow.

 

That’s a bold conceit - a man lives his whole life in despair, closed down emotionally because of rejection and hurt and abandonment, and travels, fights, his way across the solar system just to confront his loss, to reconcile with his hurt. And is told quite simply to fuck off - you never meant anything to your father. He’d prefer to die than return home with you. The ultimate abandonment on top of the first one.

 

I mean, wow. It’s not so much Heart of Darkness as Heart of 100% Cunt. This isn’t the story of a man turned mad by the alien culture he meets, or by the folly of his own nation’s undertaking to which he then becomes alien - so it’s neither Event Horizon nor Apocalypse Now - it’s a man who’s simply always been this way. Because some men are this way. His alienation is built in right from the start, and once he’s out of Earth’s gravitational pull you feel he slowly just lets himself be himself, unencumbered by gravitational pull of others’ morality. And that’s a really strong central story to tell, and not at all derivative of the films I’ve seen this likened to.

 

Unfortunately, the film fluffs its lines badly. Quite literally, by putting most of them in a series of super-explicatory voiceovers by Pitt. Telling, telling, telling. He’s always telling us how he’s feeling, what he’s pondering, the hurt he’s struggling with, or been struggling with, the reason he’s suppressed his emotions and acted like a cunt himself, like father like son, but he so hopes not. This isn’t Pitt’s fault - I guess he was given those lines and duly delivered them as well as he could - but they just don’t work. We don’t really see his character develop or open up or break down - he explains it in bite-sized chunks in his numerous psych evals. He goes from saying ‘I slept 8.7 hours I am fit for duty’ to ‘I didn’t sleep well but I am still fit for duty.’ That’s the extent of his emotional journey. He says ‘I am not hostile, I mean you no harm,’ before causing the deaths of others through his actions, and afterwards explains dutifully, regretfully, to the flight recorder, ‘I was not hostile and did not intend to but I have just caused the deaths of others through my actions.’ Just too many words and too little on the face, in the eyes, in the embarrassed, pained movement of the camera, focusing on a searing detail that burns itself into his retinae. And in the words, a by-the-numbers recounting of what has happened or how he feels. It’s all too literal, too spelled out.

 

And that’s why this fails for me. In trying to ape Malick’s approach but not having Malick’s poetry. The poetry of Malick’s voiceovers - elliptical, spare, pulling on details, on moments, not explaining wholesale concepts literally. And it also lacks the poetry of Malick’s (or rather his cinematographers') camera. It’s quite well shot, but it doesn’t have that magic that illuminates an emotion - the visual that itself contains an emotion, and can be worth a thousand words when paired with just a few well-chosen ones. Malick’s visuals illuminate the inexplicable. This just explains the obvious. It’s all too perfunctory.

 

Along the way there are some great scenes. Some of the action is very enjoyable (though completely incongruous to the central thrust of the story, almost like they thought, ‘well, we’ve got to have some action in here’). I liked the space travel stuff; the sense of scale and distance was there. The relaxation room’s a nice idea (obv riffed from Soylent Green and many others), although nothing brilliant. In fact, visually, sure, there are many riffs and obvious influences. And the music was pretty great throughout. And so I suppose on a surface level it might be said to take stuff from other sci fi movies, but at its heart, the one it takes most from is Solaris. Because it's trying to resolve and exorcise a lifetime of regret and pain in some celestial, extraordinary space bound Deus Ex. And it’s just way too literal to make that work. It doesn’t have the slow, natural visual poetry of Tarkovsky or Malick. It doesn’t meditate on ideas they way those two do. It's slow but not a slow burn. It just explains ideas briefly and then moves on.

 

That’s why, by the time you finally get to Tommy Lee Jones, and he simply says ‘I never loved you or your mother’, and begs to die rather than go home, it doesn’t have the impact it should. It’s not because of bad acting per se. It’s just that a hammer blow like that has to hit a vulnerable object for it to be devastating. And by that point, Pitt’s not that at all. His whole arc has been explained away in such pedestrian terms in countless explanatory voiceovers that you kinda know he’ll just go ‘sad face, but ok dad then I’ll be off’. The denouement seems hurried and underdeveloped - almost as if they cut stuff out, or simply didn’t want to spend any time with these two guys actually connecting after all that time alone. And with all the words explaining every feeling, however minor, those last ones just get lost in the noise. They don't impact the way they should.

 

It’s an anaemic end given the strength of the subject matter. And you just know that Brad will learn his lesson from all this, which is not to shut others out of his life, and of course he goes and applies that lesson at the end. And of course the film shows that by another voiceover, which is the same as an earlier voiceover but with the words at the end changed to say ‘I will rely on others and support them’ rather than the earlier ‘I will rely on no-one and support myself.’ It’s that spelled out, that literal. It tells, it doesn’t show. And films really need to show stuff, unless their script is written by a genius.

 

This one wasn’t. Needed a poet, got something else.

 

7/10 cos I liked it anyway because slow sci fi, and some pretty shots and good music, and I gave Pitt and Jones some credit for working well with what they had. (I caught myself thinking, though - Ryan Gosling. Should have been Ryan Gosling. He can do that internal stuff by moving his face round a bit rather than talking to you. But given First Man I guess that's no surprise.) 5/10 to anyone comparing it to Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, or anything to do with Malick. 2/10 and leave me to die alone in space if they mention similarities to Event Horizon or 2001 - get tae fuck I’m off to Neptune.

 

 

This echoes what I felt about the film so thanks for saving me a lot of time with your excellent critique. Some additional notes though.

 

I enjoyed it but overall this was a movie with ideas above its station and an ambition that wasn't matched by the writing.

Spoiler

 

I don't get why anyone would consider this hard sci-fi for instance. The bit at the end with the 'space-walking' was ridiculous. It was done better in WALL-E with a fire hydrant.

 

There were too many 'as if by magic' plot moments too. The way the surges were tackled and how it facilitated his propulsion, silly. Anti-matter is thrown in, well, just because the script writer read about it in a Dan Brown book.

 

Also, he murders 4 people through his own selfishness and no one seems in the least bit bothered. Glossed over.

 

Too many umbilical cord metaphors. We get it.

 

I did like how the Moon and Mars were represented though. (Nice they have Subway sandwiches.) Some great set design and music but Arrival and Interstellar are in a different solar system to this.

 

 

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On 24/09/2019 at 12:29, Fitzcarraldo said:

I can see why this leaves people cold, but I absolutely loved it. Apocalypse Now meets The Tree of Life in space. Incoherent rambling of why I think it touched me so much:

 

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A beautiful, thoughtful look at human relationships and the scars the bad ones leave behind. You can shut yourself out of all emotion, maintain a sub-80 heart-rate, pass routine psychological tests and you can even travel billions of miles from earth to get away from it all, but, as McBride's anxiety-riddled monologues show, still waters run deep and you take your emotional baggage with you, no matter where you go. In the emptiness of space, all you have are your thoughts and eventually they must be confronted.

 

McBride's father abandons everything in pursuit of personal glory and to expand human knowledge of the cosmos, but what's the point? What good is finding intelligent life when we can't even make peace with ourselves? We already have intelligent life on earth but we mistreat and destroy it everywhere we go. We ruin their habitats, we eat them, we experiment on them in labs and send them off to space. In Ad Astra, humans have mastered space travel to such a degree that flights to the moon are not only normal, they are banal enough to offer economy class seating, yet passengers are warned to stay within designated zones due to territorial disputes. We make giant technological leaps forward for mankind, but we are emotionally stagnant. McBride's initial entreaty to his father (his first meaningful contact with him in decades) takes place on a station built by humans on Mars, written for him by strangers.

 

The point of it all for McBride's father is, I suppose, to know that we aren't alone. That we aren't floating in solitude through a vast nothingness, hands clasped in prayer to invisible gods that might make sense of it all. The killer is that his father, in his "failure", is blind to the answer it leaves, which is that we aren't alone and never have been. A lesson his son - terrified of following in his footsteps - realises before it's too late.

 

 

 

Beautifully put, man. I've just got back from seeing this myself and you've basically articulated my own thoughts. Loved it. 

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I thought this was interesting, but slightly disappointing. It reminded me of quite a few sci-fi films, in one particular way: there's this cliche that sci-fi is badly written with thin characters, but deals with amazing ideas, and there's a similar cliche drama deals with mundane subjects, but gives them real heft and resonance. You would think that a sci-fi drama film would combine the best elements of both, but in a lot of cases - Gravity, Interstellar, this - you get the opposite, so you end up with a character study of a character who's not particularly interesting, combined with SF ideas that aren't wild enough to make up for the thin story. It seems to happen a fair bit - you get directors who want to tackle an SF scenario, but seem obliged to try and graft a human story on the top, but never seem to get the right story and usually end up going with something about estranged fathers reconciling with their angry children. This is purely personal preference, but I thought that

 

apart from the scenes with the homicidal space baboons,

 it never got as weird as the setting could have permitted it to. It was always very aloof and restrained, which seems like a waste.

 

It's a bit of a shame, because it was full of dazzling imagery, like the plummet down the space antenna / space elevator at the start with the titanic base station visible miles below, like some mega-scale version of Dubai, and the lunar gunfight that plays out in near silence, but was let down by it being entirely driven by Brad Pitt's character, who constantly narrates his own thoughts and occasionally says them out loud, and even then doesn't feel like he has much of an inner life. I assumed the frequently banal and awkward dialogue was a homage to 2001, but even if it was deliberate, it didn't quite work for me.

 

Also,

 

during the scene where Brad Pitt's in the booth recording the message to his dad, chatting to the dude with the man-bun behind the glass, was it just me who kept thinking "yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango"?

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