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Ad Astra trailer: Brad Pitt goes to space, gets more than he bargained for

The answers we seek are just outside our reach. 

That's what the first trailer for Ad Astra, the sci-fi space drama from director James Gray, seeks to remind its audience. Studio 20th Century Fox dropped the footage on Wednesday, June 5, unraveling a gripping tale that begins as a search-and-rescue mission and quickly spirals out into an all-encompassing, life-threatening mystery. 

Starring Brad Pitt, Ad Astra centers on astronaut Roy McBride, who embarks on expedition to the fringes of the cosmos in search of his long-lost father, fellow astronaut Clifford McBride, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Things kick off after Roy is nearly killed when a seemingly routine operation goes awry, and he's ejected from his spacecraft. A mysterious event called The Surge is the culprit — it's causing fires, power outages, communication failures, and mass death on a global scale. 

When Roy wakes up from the accident, he meets with a group of high-ranking officials, who inform him that the Surge could be linked to something known as the Lima Project — a mission his father Clifford was a part of. Their objective was to search for "advanced extraterrestrial life" beyond Earth, but 16 years into the expedition, the ship disappeared. One officer reveals to Roy that his father was "experimenting with a highly classified material that could threaten our entire solar system." If mishandled, it would wipe out all life on the planet. 

"We're counting on you to find out what's happening out there," he tells Roy. 

And off to work Roy goes. The Ad Astra trailer teases that he will face serious obstacles while trying to complete the mission — like potentially straining his relationship with his wife (Liv Tyler), grappling with the affects of prolonged space travel, and, of course, dealing with his father's disappearance. The hope, though, is that Roy and his crew can reach Clifford and the other members of the Lima Project to discover what exactly they were working on and how to stop them from implementing the dangerous technology. 

By and large, Ad Astra looks thrilling — and the trailer does a bang-up job of offering just enough information about the plot without spoiling everything. Director Gray appears to have crafted yet another simmering-below-the-surface adventure much like his fantastic feature The Lost City of Z, then tossed in some sci-fi thrills for good measure. Some viewers may feel like they've seen this movie before, what with all the space-set dramas that have released over the last few years, but Ad Astra seems to have an edge to it that other movies in the same genre lack. Plus, who wouldn't want to see Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones in space? Silly people, that's who.

The film was originally slated to open in theaters this January, but was pushed to May and then to September because Gray really wanted to get the visual effects right. "The issue is a little bit out of our hands because the shots come in from the VFX houses and right now our delivery date is late April, early May, which is really, really cutting it close," the filmmaker explained to The Hollywood Reporter in February. "You want your visual effects to be so good that nobody thinks about them, that people don't think of them as visual effects." 

Hopefully the extra work and the double delay will be worth it. 

Also starring Ruth NeggaDonald SutherlandJamie Kennedy, and more, Ad Astra will rocket into theaters on September 20.