Starring a terrifically memorable Brad Pitt, James Gray's Ad Astra is a layered, pensive meditation communicating deeper truths of our inherent desire to explore the universe wrapped in gorgeously spectacular visuals. The sci-fi drama lands on Blu-ray with a beautiful video presentation, an outstanding DTS-HD MA soundtrack but a rather middling set of supplements. Nevertheless, the overall package is Recommended for the curious.
You can read our full thoughts on James Gray's Ad Astra in our review of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings Ad Astra to Blu-ray with a flyer for a Digital HD Copy, which can be redeemed via FoxDigitalMovies.com or Movies Anywhere. The Region Free, BD50 disc is housed inside the standard blue, eco-cutout keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu screen with full-motion clips, the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.
The sci-fi drama lands on Blu-ray with a marvelously beautiful, sometimes awe-inspiring 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. While it may not achieve the heights of demo-quality, the HD presentation definitely has its moments, exploring the far reaches of space with exceptional definition in the many exterior and interior shots of the spacecraft.
Sourced from traditional 35mm film and some digital footage, the freshly-minted transfer shows sharp detailing in the threading of the astronaut suits, the individual whiskers in Pitt's faint stubble and in the lifelike complexions of the entire cast. Several soft, blurry moments are sprinkled throughout, but they are the result of the filmmakers' creative design. Awash in a dense, noticeable layer of natural gain, the picture is very film-like and ultimately, quite lovely to behold.
Presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the video also arrives with considerably subdued contrast and brightness balance, making for an intentionally flat image and tightly controlled whites. Highlights, however, shine with radiant brilliance when needed in certain spots. The same can be said of black levels, looking generally lackluster and deep, dark gray in the interior shots but inky-rich in the sequences while floating through space and on the moon. Also, the heavily-stylized cinematography favors a neutral earth-tone color scheme, one that pushes darker tans, tawny browns, warm ambers, golden yellows and fiery tiger oranges. Still, primaries remain accurately saturated, particularly the vibrant reds of outfits and the dynamic blues of Neptune. (Video Rating: 80/100)
The epic journey also finds its way to home theaters with an exceptional DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, providing the gorgeous visuals with an unexpected sense of scope and expanse.
With much of the attention maintained in the fronts, imaging feels continuously broad and spacious with various background effects subtly and discretely traveling across all three channels with convincing movement into the off-screen space. Max Richter's low-key but haunting score enjoys a great deal of warmth and fidelity in the orchestration, exhibiting extraordinary acoustical detailing in the mid-range. The dialogue and conversations are crystal-clear and precise at all times, and the low-end sends room-energizing, rumbling shockwaves through the room during shuttle launches and the few bits of action, even digging into the ultra-low depths well-below the 20Hz range on a few occasions (bass chart).
Despite being a front-heavy presentation, the rears are employed from time to time with amusing effectiveness, reserved for those moments where the on-screen action would expectedly demand it, nicely expanding and widening the soundfield. The most common use would be Major McBride's voiceover thoughts extending into the sides, not only filling the entire room with his pensive ruminations but also feeling as though hovering right above the listening area. The few action sequences come with the debris from the rocket blasts raining down everywhere and the clanks, bongs and various other electronic noises from inside the shuttle. (Audio Rating: 94/100)
Telling the story of an astronaut's journey to Neptune in order to reunite with his estranged father becomes a metaphor for communicating deeper wounds in James Gray's Ad Astra. Starring a terrifically memorable Brad Pitt, the pensive meditation also speaks to deeper truths while displaying gorgeously spectacular visuals. The sci-fi drama lands on Blu-ray with a beautiful but heavily-stylized HD presentation and an exceptional DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Featuring a disappointingly small set of supplements, the overall package is recommended for hard-nosed sci-fi fans and the curious.