‘Ad Astra’s near-future sounds great … if you like Applebee’s

Everything you need to know about the Brad Pitt space epic.


Look, I’ll level with you, I haven’t actually seen Ad Astra yet, but here’s what I’m pretty sure the movie is about: Brad Pitt plays a sad astronaut who’s emotionally distant and misses his dad (Tommy Lee Jones), who went missing in outer space. Then, Pitt goes into space to investigate a dangerous power surge and maybe find his dad — or at least find out what went wrong on that original mission. Also, there’s an Applebee’s on the moon.

I didn’t figure any of that out from the trailer. (I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the trailer.) Instead, all my Ad Astra knowledge comes from editing and reading the many articles we’ve published here at Inverse, ranging from our official review to an interview with the retired NASA astronaut who helped envision the commercialized space travel of the future. Read on for a rundown of all the best Ad Astra coverage we’ve already published and a sneak peek at one upcoming article you don’t want to miss.

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I’m Jake Kleinman, senior entertainment editor at Inverse, and this is Multiverse, your twice-weekly guide to the best movies and TV shows in this dimension and any other dimensions we might discover soon.

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A grim space epic that feels too real to be science fiction

In his review of Ad Astra, Corey Plante explains that the movie’s greatest accomplishment is creating a vision of space travel in the not-too-distant future that feels realistic — and that’s not a good thing. Commercialized flights to the moon are about as bleak as you might imagine, but Ad Astra goes far behind its lunar strip mall.

Writes Corey:

In the end, Roy has to make the trek all the way out to the edge of our solar system. This Herculean voyage takes something close to a year from start to finish, and human society feels more and more like a dystopia the further we move away from Earth.

Ad Astra also features space pirates and a massive antenna that stretches from the surface of the Earth up into space. In other words, “It’s an incredible spectacle.”

Spoiler alert: Curious about how Ad Astra ends? Read our spoiler-filled explainer to find out.

Who’s a better astronaut: Pitt or Clooney?

The list of movie stars who’ve donned space suits is almost endless, but one actor stands out in recent memory. George Clooney played a small role in Gravity, but his fast-talking space jockey feels unforgettable. So when Ad Astra’s Brad Pitt had a chance to talk to an actual astronaut, it’s no surprise that he took the opportunity to compare himself to Clooney.

Inverse’s space writer, Passant Rabie, tells me that Pitt also asked a bunch of serious questions about life on the International Space Station, like astronauts’ sleep schedules and what it feels like to do a space walk. Then he got to the important stuff.

“Who is more believable, Clooney or Pitt?” he asked, to which NASA astronaut Nick Hague answered, “You were, absolutely!” Read more.

What do you think? Sound off with your favorite movie astronaut over on Twitter or email me directly at jacob@inverse.com.

The secret meaning hidden in Ad Astra’s Latin title

Ad Astra sounds vaguely spacey, but if you’re wondering what the movie’s title really means, we’ve got your covered. Corey interviewed screenwriter Ethan Gross, who explained that the title actually comes from a moody prog rock song by the little-known band The Dear Hunter that he first heard a decade ago. However, it wasn’t until he came across the other band Deerhunter’s song “Ad Astra” (yes, I know this is confusing, just stay with me) that it solidified the idea.

The full Latin phrase, “ad astra per aspera” translates roughly as “to the stars through hardship,” which makes a lot of sense in the context of the movie’s bleak plot. Even then, Ad Astra was never supposed to be the final title, but I kind of love the hidden meaning baked into it.

“I wrote Ad Astra as a temporary placeholder name on the file, but we always liked it,” Gross told Inverse. “It has a little bit of mysteriousness to it. The unspoken part of the name, the ‘per aspera,’ is really what a lot of the movie is about.” Read the full interview.

What’s this about an Applebee’s on the moon?

Actually, it’s not just Applebee’s. In Ad Astra, the convenience of space travel has turned the moon into a crumbling strip mall with a Subway, a Hudson News (you know, like the ones at airports), and other familiar brands. It may seem like a depressing glimpse of the space tourism future that companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are racing towards, but according to one retired astronaut, the future won’t be quite so banal.

Retired NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman advised on Ad Astra and currently works with SpaceX. He tells Passant that he’s hopeful the future of space travel will not be as bleak as it’s depicted in the film. “We aren’t that commercial in the way you see in the movie,” Reisman says of SpaceX.

Stay tuned for that full article — just as soon as we get a comment from Applebee’s about their potential lunar expansion.

Wow, you all really like Star Wars

Last week, I ran a Twitter poll asking for your most anticipated TV show this fall and the results were pretty undeniable. Out of 100 votes, 40 went to The Mandalorian, an upcoming Star Wars series set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. HBO’s Watchmen adaptation came in second with 28 votes, followed closely by the fourth and final season of The Good Place on NBC.

Finally, Netflix’s The Witcher only earned 12 measly votes. I guess you’re really not Henry Cavill fans …

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See you next time! Until then, I’ll be drinking margaritas at that Applebee’s on the moon.

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