Film Reviews by MD

Welcome to MD's film reviews page. MD has written 2 reviews and rated 13 films.

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Ad Astra

Poor story, good acting, laws of physics? Ignored.

(Edit) 01/06/2020

It's been a long time since I saw a film that was as big a waste of time, and as big a disappointment, especially after reading a number of glowing reviews, as this one. Even the film title doesn't work as none of the protagonists make it out of the solar system.

Set in the near future, the motivation of the main character, Major Roy MacBride played by Brad Pitt, whose performance was the film's saving grace, was that he wanted to find his father – a hero to the rest of the world – but whom he hardly knew, and who had effectively left him emotionally disabled.

It's a story arc we've seen many times, and its predictability lost my interest pretty early on. His father has gone rogue somewhere off Neptune and is sending deadly electrical surges sunwards into the rest of the solar system using anti-matter.

One of the main problems concerned the setting of this humdrum story in space. I've become accustomed to Hollywood's playing fast and loose with the laws of physics but Ad Astra takes top spot by a country mile. People jump on and off spacecraft without a thought for the need for fuel or trajectory adjustments. Using a box of anti-matter, they send surges across billions of kilometres that result in things blowing up on Earth and Mars.

Pitt's character needs to go to Mars to deliver a message to his dad – although he could have just recorded it and sent it to Mars, if that were truly necessary, using a radio upload. We can do that now.

Laughably, they stop dead, mid-way to Mars to mount a rescue mission, find killer apes in a spaceship, and then proceed on to Mars. What happened before they got there and why the apes escaped are questions never answered – nor are we asked to care. In fact this whole episode could have been excised without altering the story arc one bit.

A few days later they get there and MacBride has to take control of the ship to stop it crashing onto the surface of the planet. His aim is to stop the electrical surges so he then jumps aboard a spaceship that's on its way to Neptune – while it's in the process of taking off – and within minutes, the rest of the crew are dead, mashed by gravity or hit by a bullet fired from a gun. Not a likely object to find on board a pressurised vehicle.

MacBride gets to Neptune after just 79 days (the New Horizons mission, which got to Pluto in 2015 took almost 10 years), and quickly finds his father's space station in orbit. After surviving multiple collisions with Neptune's ring particles, he sets up a nuclear explosive device to stop the surges but his dad doesn't want to leave and zooms off into space. Pitt's MacBride pulls off a piece of aluminium from the mission space station and surfs it back to his own spaceship – there are no problems with orbital mechanics nor any limit to the number of ring particle collisions a thin piece of aluminium can withstand. His ship is where he left it and the nuclear explosion propels him home, unharmed.

When he gets back, his girlfriend, played by a grotesquely underused Liv Tyler, walks in the door just as he's rediscovering his emotions.

The only thing that really worked in the film was Pitt's superb acting. While the film was well-produced, the complete lack of regard for even the basics of how the laws of physics work negated any joy that might have been taken from the visuals. The storyline was cliched and predictable, and would have been much better set here on Earth. His father could have been lost in the wilderness somewhere, for example, without the need for hokum such as electrical surges from Neptune.

Don't bother seeing this film, you'll only be disappointed. Unless you are a huge fan of Brad pitt – there are lots of close-ups...

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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The Harder They Fall

Poignant but hard-hitting

(Edit) 02/02/2017

Poignant because it was Bogie's last film. He was dying of throat cancer but refused to stop, carrying on through the pain - you can sometimes hear it in his voice.

That aside, this is a tough, no-compromises look at the corruption in the boxing industry, and how one sports writer was sucked in but recovered his dignity. You will rarely see a more no-holds-barred portrayal of the viciousness of boxing - both inside and outside the rung. Watch it and weep - and enjoy too.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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