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EXCLUSIVE: Story Details From The Upcoming Sci-Fi Epic AD ASTRA

EXCLUSIVE: Story Details From The Upcoming Sci-Fi Epic AD ASTRA


We’ve hit a peak in modern science-fiction films set in space. In the past six years, we’ve had fascinating stories told about space such as GravityInterstellar and The Martian. Those last two stories were set in a plausible future environment. AD ASTRA follows that formula. I’d call it the companion piece to those two movies. James Gray co-wrote the screenplay and will it. I’ve enjoyed his work. The Yards is a severely underrated movie. While the opening sequence of We Own The Night was dazzling. James should direct a musical down the line. Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones have signed up for the film. They’ll play estranged father and son. Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars.”

100 years from now, the US government has been building a giant telescope to find life outside our solar system. Engineer/Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) heads the team that’s building the telescope on Earth. His father H.  Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) was the director of a deep space colony that disappeared 18 years ago near one of the moons of Neptune. Their goal was to construct a telescope to search for extraterrestrial life.

After a freak accident that destroys one of Neptune’s moon, Roy is asked by the US government to send a video message to his father. They believe the incident is proof that the colony is still alive and they might be conducting dangerous experiments. To have his message reach Neptune, Roy has to get to the moon to transmit it.  It begins a sequence of events that will drive our hero all around our solar system.

It’s one hell of a space ride. Roy is a complicated guy, and he’s described as being mildly autistic. So, his relationship to the world and his family is complicated. It was also one of the reasons why he was selected as an astronaut. The depth of this character adds an interesting dramatic layer to the tale. The space adventure part of the story is fantastic. The Moon has been fully colonized and even features a McDonalds and a Dunkin Donuts!

There’s also an entire area on the moon that is in a state of extreme lawlessness. The tone and the future science of the story are fascinating. It fits perfectly into the mold of recent space movies like The Martian. Some film websites have described the plot as similar to Apocalypse Now or Heart of Darkness in space. I’d say it’s closer to Interstellar but with lesser “end of mankind” stakes. I think it might better than the Christopher Nolan film.

Screenwriting Tip: Create a good enough mystery for your protagonist to embark on a mission to find the answers. The writers combine family drama and science-fiction adventure to involve Roy McBride. Is his father alive? Has he gone mad? Where is he? Is he building a doomsday device? Those interesting questions move the story forward flawlessly.

Ad Astra is fantastic. Astronaut Pitt on a whirlwind solar system adventure? Sign me up for a first-class ticket to that colonized Moon.

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About The Author

Jean-François Allaire

Jean-François Allaire is a true movie geek. In the past 20 years, he's written for Scr(i)pt magazine, Screenwriters Monthly and many websites (Corona's Coming Attractions, TNMC, Filmjerk and Joblo.) For the past decade, he's worked in the Canadian film industry as a distributor, screenwriting consultant and VOD expert. You can send him an email to:

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