I think that after watching this I've really come to realize that I have a certain stubbornness when it comes to the outer space experience. I seem to really need a big screen in order to fully appreciate them. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I understand the vastness of our infinite universe, and therefore the scale of things is something I feel needs to be grandiose. I think that for what this film ended up being, I really missed out on that big screen experience. Much like with 'Avatar', you need that submergence into that world to fully appreciate what the film is doing.
It all starts in the near future, where our solar system is being hit with power surges that threaten human life on Earth. US Space Command informs astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) that these surges are connected to the Lima Project; an attempt at contacting extraterrestrial life, created with his father, Clifford's (Tommy Lee Jones) guidance 29 years prior. For quite some time, Clifford has been believed dead, since all communication with the project has ceased for the past 16 years, after the project reached Neptune. However, once US Space Command tells Roy his father may still be alive out there, he agrees to suit up and travel to Mars in order to try to communicate with his father, along with Colonel Pruitt (Donald Sutherland), Clifford's old associate.
As the mission unfolds, Roy has to prove that he can still maintain the proper mindset while under pressure, made all the more difficult based on his personal attachment to the mission. He's eventually told that if he can't establish any communication with his father, then the Lima Project would have to be destroyed. So there's also a bit of a race against time aspect to this. But having said that, I still didn't find it to be an exciting movie. Although it most certainly has its moments of tension, I think the real draw to this movie is the overall visual aspect. There's a certain amount of wonder here that you don't see much of, and some of its so simple. For example, as scene involving moon rovers that kick up moon dust that gets suspended in the low, low gravity long enough that Roy can run his fingers through it. The film is full of neat stuff like that, and the Oscar-nominated sound design helped bring you into things further.
I have to admit that while this was a visual spectacle of sorts, I still found myself easily distracted. Despite some cool aspects, there is a certain dryness to it, and for the most part, I found it somewhat boring. But this is like saying '2001: A Space Odyssey' is boring. I can't help but feel that overall excitement wasn't entirely what they were going for, so much as they were trying to show the scale and wonder of space. Of course, that pretty much just brings me back to my first thought, though, in that I really wish this was something I saw on the big screen instead. If you can do space right, then the excitement of what could be an action sci-fi movie simply doesn't matter. There's a realism to films like this that I can admire, and therefore, my boredom can easily take a back seat - IF it's on a big screen.
For me, this is another one of those films where I may not have gotten much out of it the first time around, but I feel deserves a re-watch. If I have two hours to kill again some time down the line, I might check it out again in an attempt to appreciate it more. But I'm also not exactly rushing to check it out a second time, or even really recommend it very highly. In a space film like this, you sort of get what you get. It would be more entertaining on a bigger scale, but holds its own for what it is on the smaller screen. I may have found a lot of it slow, dry and tedious, but there was still enough to appreciate that I wouldn't at all consider it to be bad in any way. It's something one has to see and judge for themselves, as it left me somewhat confused on my feelings for it.