With the recent release of James Gray's Ad Astra, we find ourselves flung back into the void of deep space alongside of Brad Pitt’s Roy McBride. As he suits up for the voyage out into the unknown, he prepares for the long journey to find his father who disappeared after a mission to Neptune and attempts to save the stability of the universe from a mysterious energy surge.
As Ad Astra joins the ever-growing bank of influential space exploration movies, we took a big, big, BIG step back and mapped out all of the distances traveled in some of our favorite space movies of all time!
GRAVITY (2013): Earth’s Orbit
260 miles from Earth—At our first stop, we join Gravity (2013) in a low Earth orbit thriller as Hubble repair astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are left stranded in space, just outside of Earth’s gravitational pull. As we get a closer look at the effects of Kessler Syndrome—a scenario in which collisions between objects in low Earth orbit could cause a high-speed cascade of debris—we get a first hand look at the fears of survival, even when just miles from home.
FIRST MAN (2018): The Moon
238,900 miles from Earth—Next, we journey to our closest, celestial companion: the moon. In First Man (2018), we received a biographical drama based on the life and conquests of the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong. From the test flight of the X-15 space plane to the success of the Apollo 11 mission, we get to experience the deafening silence of this vast lunar wasteland.
APOLLO 13 (1995): The Moon
(left to right) Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) in Apollo 13 (1995)
248,655 miles from Earth—As we slip outside of Earth’s orbit, we find the near-disaster of Apollo 13 (1995) piloted by a heroic crew of astronauts (lead by Hank’s Jim Lovell) who successfully return to Earth after an explosion rocks the Apollo 13 spacecraft. Considered a “successful failure” by NASA, the crew of the real Apollo 13 never touched down on the moon’s surface, but their safe return was nothing short of a miracle. And considering their “slingshot” around the backside of the moon, they set the record for traveling further than any other humans have ever traveled from Earth.
THE MARTIAN (2015): Mars
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) in The Martian (2015)
34 million miles from Earth— Headed over to our next door neighbor in the solar system, Mars, we join Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) as he must survive on the baron Red Planet after the rest of his crew was forced to leave him behind. Facing the lack of water, sub-zero temperatures, and a lack of food, Watney bucks up to “science the sh*t” out of his situation (literally and figuratively) in order to survive.
SUNSHINE (2007): The Sun
93 million miles from Earth—Taking a step into the not-so distant future, we join a crew of eight men and women as they venture into space with a device they hope will revive our dying sun. This sci-fi thriller takes us on a high-risk mission to save Earth from a solar winter while also diving into the psychology of space travel and our role in the universe.
AD ASTRA (2019): Neptune
Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) in Ad Astra (2019)
2.9 billion miles from Earth—In the most-anticipated space-based movie of the year, we follow Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he races against time to find a solution to a growing threat on Earth that only his long-lost father may hold. As we go from the now inhabitable surface of the moon to mind-numbing isolation of the outskirts of Neptune, we experience a deeply personal journey that may very well hold all of the pieces to securing the fate of the universe.
Ad Astra's Ending Explained (& Why It Isn't Really A Sci-Fi Movie) *WARNING: Major Spoilers for Ad Astra Ahead.*
INTERSTELLAR (2014): Gargantua
10 billion light-years from Earth—This mind-blowing, dystopian sci-fi thriller from Christopher Nolan takes us on one of the more terrifyingly realistic space exploration movies delving into a countless number of theories. Interstellar (2014) takes us into the near future when a global crop drought and second Dust Bowl are slowly making Earth uninhabitable. We join NASA pilot, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), and a team of researchers as they attempt to save mankind by transporting Earth's population to a new home via a wormhole.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968): ???
??? from Earth—In this cinematic masterpiece from Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) takes us from humanity’s origins to the birth of a “Starchild.” In this epic and at times enigmatic journey, we accompany Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and his team on a mysterious mission through space and time. When their ship's computer system, HAL, begins to show signs of increasingly strange behavior, we find ourselves in the middle of a showdown between man and machine that results in a mind-bending quest into the unknown.
See Brad Pitt travel to Neptune as Roy McBride in Ad Astra, now playing at Regal.