Review: ‘Lucy in the Sky’ is a miscalculated disaster of an astronaut drama

This review was originally published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

Like many of the early missions undertaken by NASA’s astronauts, “Lucy in the Sky” is obsessively go-for-broke, a project that isn’t preoccupied about where it will plant the flag at its destination so much as how it will even get there. Unlike NASA’s successes, the movie is an amalgam of big ideas, aspirations and faint messages that never even gets the Moon in its sights, let alone reach it.

Based on yesterdecade news headlines, Noah Hawley’s movie – his first feature project after making a name for himself with “Fargo” and “Legion” on the small screen – about an astronaut struggling to re-adjust to life on teeny tiny Earth after “seeing the face of God” (read: space) is about as erratic as its main character, Lucy Cola, here portrayed by Natalie Portman. “Lucy in the Sky” begins on her eyes peering through her helmet, floating in space and drawn to the great dark canvas of a shadowed Earth in front of her—urban lights break the sprawl of night like splotches of yellow of a cosmic Jackson Pollack panting.

She tells her co-adventurers that she needs just a few minutes to soak it all in—she’s in awe. Could we blame her? Continue reading →

Review: ‘Ad Astra’ sees Brad Pitt explore the cosmos, and his emotions

This review was originally published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

To strap into the vessel through which writer-director James Gray chooses to explore the cosmos in the meditative “Ad Astra” is to understand the emotional turmoil endured by the astronaut we’re accompanying, Brad Pitt’s Roy McBride.

Despite its opening notes and frames being injected with a just sense of grandiosity that we’ve come to expect from modern space movies, Gray’s latest film is just as much an introspective journey as it is an intersteller one. The premise is straightforward – astronaut must travel through space and communicate with his long-thought-dead father, who may have a role in ongoing Earthly catastrophic phenomena – but this space odyssey is contemplation and adventure in equal measure, guided by one of the year’s most effectively somber performances and a startling level of self-awareness on Grey’s part about Hollywood’s historical teachings on the isolation of intergalactic exploration.

The “Lost City of Z” and “We Own the Night” director also offers up a counter-argument to our perhaps-overzealous ambitions of reaching the stars as a pinnacle of human achievement, one we should have been considering all this time: Why should we expect humanity’s problems to be bound to Earth? Continue reading →

Review: ‘Last Jedi’ is an epic in the best and worst of ways

The “Star Wars” franchise, by its very nature, demands that high expectations be asked of it.

While writer-director Rian Johnson’s first offering to the world’s biggest entertainment vehicle is undoubtedly the popcorn flick of the year many have been looking forward to, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the episodic Skywalker saga is in danger of going into cruise control.

In terms of blockbuster action, it’s an oversaturated blast to witness. Narratively, though, it struggles to make the jump into lightspeed.

Johnson takes the reins from J.J. Abrams, cutting down on the nostalgia factor in the process. While Abrams’s story created new conflicts and heroes to root for, Johnson focuses on the introspective journeys of three in particular – Rey, Luke and Kylo Ren. Continue reading →