New Sci-Fi Releases: Astro (2018) - Reviewed

Astro is a science-fiction movie involving space travel, extraterrestrials, potentially world changing discoveries and long-buried secrets. It contains action, mystery and suspense. You would think it would be difficult for a film with so many different elements to be boring. You would be very wrong. Astro is so sloppily made that it becomes hard to follow at times. When I was able to work out what was happening, I did not care. The writing, acting, music, fight choreography and editing all come close to being entertainingly bad. The movie could have been silly fun to watch (despite its ultra-serious tone) if it did not tell its story so slowly.

The plot is something about a wealthy aerospace mogul, the estranged friend he seeks help from and an alien that has been captured and brought to Earth. There is a whole bunch of other stuff as well (including a completely out of place attempt at topicality with a reference to the #metoo movement), most of which seem irrelevant to the main narrative. It is like the filmmakers started with far too many unrelated ideas and never bothered to figure out how to put them together in a coherent way. Instead, they just threw them all in the same story and hoped for the best. There is a lot happening, but nothing is actually going on. I guess that could be tolerable if what was happening was entertaining or well-made. Astro is neither of those things.

I did chuckle at some of the more preposterous dialogue but, unfortunately, Astro is not consistently funny-bad. It has its moments, however it is mostly boring and confusing. There is so much talking, though the characters have little to say. Absolutely everything must be explained, even simple plot points that need no explanation. The worst part is, the story is still unclear. There is a ton of background information, yet the screenplay fails to satisfyingly clarify who the protagonist is, what he did in his past and why everyone is so interested in him. As an audience member, it is impossible to become involved in a character who is never anything other than an outline.

I did not have fun with this movie. The opening gave me hope that it could be ridiculous or amusing. It was unsuccessful at achieving even that. That is a shame because I really like sci-fi. Even lesser science-fiction can captivate me with its ideas. Sadly, everything in Astro is so muddled and poorly executed that, try as I might, I was unable to get into it in any way. I have no clue what the purpose of this film was supposed to be, but I am pretty confident that the filmmakers did not accomplish it. 

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-Ben Pivoz