Ad Astra appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though generally good, the image came with occasional anomalies.
Sharpness became my only concern, as occasional shots appeared oddly soft. Some came by design, but I couldn’t explain the lack of definition found in others, so I thought these created unexpected distractions.
I saw no jaggies or moiré effects. Edge haloes remained absent, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation.
Astra went with a standard teal and orange palette, though it tossed out some other hues at times as well. The hues displayed appropriate clarity and vivacity.
Blacks seemed dense and dark, while low-light shots boasted nice smoothness and delineation. Outside of the occasional soft spots, this became a positive transfer.
In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack fared very well. When the movie stayed with general atmosphere, it felt convincing and immersive, and the chances for greater life blossomed in a satisfying manner. With a lot of space-related elements on display, the soundfield used all the channels in an engaging, engrossing manner.
Audio quality succeeded. Speech remained distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues.
Music showed nice range and warmth, while effects appeared dynamic and full. We got good low-end response and nary a hint of distortion, as the flick boasted some subwoofer-rocking bass. I thought the audio added a lot to the experience.
As we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director James Gray. He brings a running, screen-specific look at goals, themes and influences, story/characters, cast and performances, photography and film stock, sets and locations, production design, and connected topics.
When I screened Gray’s commentary for Lost City of Z, I raved about it, and his discussion of Astra proves this wasn’t a fluke. Once again, Gray produces an absolutely stellar look at his film.
Gray digs into the production with gusto and acknowledges potential mistakes. He can be self-effacing, and he makes sure we get an intelligent view of his decisions. Expect another top-notch commentary from Gray.
Two Deleted Scenes appear. We get “The Void” (1:36) and “Epilogue” (1:49).
“Void” offers a little more related to Pruitt’s experiences, while “Epilogue” adds a bit of a more clear “happy ending”. Both are interesting but neither seems vital.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Gray. He discusses the scenes and why they got the boot. Gray continues to offer excellent insights.
A few featurettes follow, and To the Stars runs eight minutes, 35 seconds. It offers notes from Gray, co-writer Ethan Gross, producer Jeremy Kleiner, and actors Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and Ruth Negga.
“Stars” examines the script and its development, influences, story/characters, themes, and the finale. Though some of this repeats from Gray’s commentary, we get enough new material to make it worth a look.
A Man Named Roy fills eight minutes, 45 seconds with info from Gray, Pitt, Jones, Negga, Sutherland, and Kleiner. “Roy” looks at Pitt’s character and performance. Not as praise-heavy as most clips of this sort, “Roy” doesn’t offer a ton of info but it works better than expected.
Next comes The Crew of the Cepheus, a nine-minute, eight-second piece with Pitt, Gray, Kleiner, Gross, and actors Donnie Keshawarz, Loren Dean, Kimberly Elise and Bobby Nish.
As expected, this reel examines the characters and situations related to the vessel that takes Roy on his journey. It becomes a less than stellar overview.
The Art of Ad Astra spans 11 minutes, 15 seconds and features Gray, Pitt, Kleiner, production designer Kevin Thompson and costume designer Albert Wolsky.
“Art” examines sets and production design, costumes, photography, and audio. Inevitably, some of the content repeats from the commentary – again. Still, we find a nice take on the different technical areas.
Finally, Reach For the Stars occupies seven minutes, 21 seconds and features Sutherland, Jones, Pitt, Kleiner, and technical consultants Robert Yowell and Garrett Reisman.
“Reach” views the movie’s depiction of space travel. It becomes a fairly satisfying discussion.
The disc opens with ads for Lucy In the Sky and Ford Vs. Ferrari. We also get both the theatrical and IMAX trailers for Astra.
Viewers who expect a rock-em sock-em sci-fi adventure from Ad Astra will encounter disappointment. Those who anticipate a moving emotional journey seem likelier to enjoy the tale. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture as well as strong audio and supplements headlined by an excellent commentary. Though not for everyone, I think Astra accomplishes most of its goals.