Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks
Release Date: August 15, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
A fictional American desert town, circa 1955. Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets from across the country assemble for the annual Asteroid Day celebration — but the scholarly competition is spectacularly upended by world-changing events. Equal parts comedy, drama, and romance (with a touch of science-fiction).
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Asteroid City’ follows events revolving around a fictional American desert town in the 1950’s where various visitors both adult and children gather for the Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets Asteroid Day celebration where young, inventive teens showcase their own unique inventions as they compete for recognition and the chance to win a scholarship. But when a mysterious, extraterrestrial event occurs it results in everyone being quarantined together in the small, sandy town as the government tries to decide the right course of action.
Directed by notable filmmaker Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums) from his own screenplay and a story by Anderson and Roman Coppola, Anderson does a solid job at the helm of ‘Asteroid City’ guiding along the offbeat tale with a visually spectacular look and plenty of style. The film’s massive, star-studded cast includes Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Tom Hanks (A Man Called Otto), Jeffrey Wright (The Batman), Tilda Swinton (The French Dispatch), Bryan Cranston (TV’s Your Honor), Edward Norton (Moonrise Kingdom), Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Liev Schreiber (TV’s Ray Donovan), Hope Davis (Greenland), Stephen Park (Ghosted), Rupert Friend (TV’s Obi-Wan Kenobi), Maya Hawke (TV’s Stranger Things), Steve Carell (Irresistible), Matt Dillon (The House That Jack Built), Hong Chau (The Whale), Willem Dafoe (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), Margot Robbie (Babylon), Tony Revolori (Scream VI), Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic World Dominion) who each offer properly odd and fitting performances for the most part in their respective roles.
‘Asteroid City’ is a beautifully crafted film that’s undeniably unique and like nothing you’ve seen before. It’s also an incredibly odd and offbeat film, even compared to Wes Anderson’s typical outings and that factor alone is likely to deter most casual viewers due to just how eccentric and strange the tale is. While the film does revolve around events occurring in a fictional desert town, that’s really only part of the tale; in reality the primary story is a play being acted out by the actors who are each playing other actors starring in this play; still with me? The events of the play (which itself is called “Asteroid City”) are intercut by old timey black and white footage throughout that chronicles the life and events of the man that supposedly wrote the play and the process of bringing it to life. Now if none of that makes you uncertain or hesitant, you’ll probably find plenty to appreciate about ‘Asteroid City’ and make no mistake, there is definitely plenty to appreciate here.
While the approach relies more on the style, vibrant colors and incredibly offbeat tone in which it’s all played out within, it definitely shines with Wes Anderson’s unique style which is dialed up to eleven this time around, merely in a more aggressive manner. Diehard fans of Anderson’s work will likely find themselves frequently grinning and appreciating the curious approach and the strange style of it all, not to mention the countless stars that contribute memorable and unique performances here, while more casual viewers will likely be too overwhelmed or thrown off to really appreciate or get into it.
Overall, ‘Asteroid City’ is a unique and offbeat film even by Wes Anderson’s standards and it occasionally struggles due to how strange it really is. Even with its complications, the beautiful style, unique approach and warm coloring throughout all helps it to still evolve into a rewarding experience for fans of Anderson’s style, all of which is further complemented by an outstanding cast that never disappoints. If you’re already a fan of Anderson’s work as well as many of the massively talented stars who comprise the impressive cast then you’ll probably want to try and give this one a chance whenever possible, yet for the more casual viewers that are already on the fence, you might be better off just skipping this one. ‘Asteroid City’ definitely won’t work for everyone but if you’re at all interested and not a massive fan of Anderson’s already, I would at least encourage renting it before buying a copy to be safe.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Asteroid City’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with a variable Aspect Ratio that alters between a 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio and a 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio throughout. The video presentation looks tremendous as a whole and delivers a clean, sharp, smooth and beautifully colored presentation from start to finish that never disappoints or suffers from any troubles throughout. It offers great detail and clarity noticeable on character faces, clothing and the vibrantly colored backgrounds in the expansive desert town which all look spectacular for the most part, and it even holds up nicely during the black and white sequences which are sharp, clean and capably balanced with solid black levels that never become plagued by crush or any other troubles. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that delivers beautifully throughout and shouldn’t have any trouble pleasing the fans.
The Blu-ray release features a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and occasionally fairly immersive audio presentation throughout that consistently complements the film. While by no means an overly immersive or aggressive audio presentation, it does utilize all seven available channels somewhat regularly in order to send music, along with some nature and space-related effects, in addition to some other fitting tidbits throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, while never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or conflict with any others. Overall, this is a very nice 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that does its job well and should satisfy viewers.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Asteroid City’ features a few extras in the way of some brief Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore aspects of bringing the film to life including behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew. The included Featurettes are ‘Desert Town – Population 87’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length), ‘Doomsday Carnival’ (running approximately 1 minute), ‘Montana and the Ranch Hands’ (approximately 1 minute) and ‘The Players’ (2 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘Asteroid City’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Focus Features & Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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