Asteroid City is a movie made for Wes Anderson fans. Those who love his work are likely to love this film. Those who have not yet enjoyed one of his films, should probably skip this one altogether.
It takes place in a fictional American desert town circa 1955. The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.
The Most Wes Anderson One Of His Movies Has Ever Been
Asteroid City has Wes Anderson’s signature style written all over it, with quirky cinematography, eccentric production design, and a retro color palette. On top of that, it is jam-packed with an incredible ensemble cast, most of which he has worked closely with before, but there are some newcomers as well.
The performances are amazing. Every single one of them brings something to the table that makes this movie work as well as it does. This story, in particular, has a lot to say, while simultaneously not saying much at all.
A group of people are trapped in a small town, with not much to do at all, while the government conducts a series of tests around them. The crazy thing about all this is that we, the audience, know this is a play. The story is broken up at times by a host, who explains the ins and outs of hiring the cast for the play and detailing the events of the playwright’s life.
We essentially see it all come together while we are watching the play. It is a very bizarre way to make a film, but at the same time it feels very Wes Anderson in that it is strange and eccentric.
A Plot That Goes Nowhere…But That’s OK
The thing about this is, the plot never really goes anywhere. Yes, there is a lot going on with multiple characters. Interesting storylines that will have viewers on the edge of their seat as they try desperately to put the pieces of the puzzle together. But the payoff never comes, not really.
When the play ends, the movie ends and we are left wondering what we just watched. There is humor mixed in, which helps to break up the suspense, but a conclusion never truly comes.
Still, this somehow feels like the perfect ending as one character, I won’t name names to keep things spoiler free, but one character starts to question what this is all about. They don’t understand the point of it all. That bleeds through into the ending of Asteroid City, delivering a perfectly meta experience, which is likely what Wes Anderson was going for.
The movie itself, due to all of the suspense and wondering, feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone at times. Where viewers will be thinking there must be something going on here that I don’t see, but if they decide to wait for it, they will be disappointed.
Asteroid City is easily the most Wes Anderson a movie has ever been. This visionary director / writer / producer takes his usual MO and raises it up a notch. Somehow there is a lot happening and nothing happening all at once. The movie feels meta at times.
Those who enjoy the Wes Anderson style are sure to appreciate it for what it is. Those who don’t like his work should probably not see this one. The performances are phenomenal, the story is intriguing, and the visuals are absolutely stunning. The humor lands the majority of the time and viewers are left on the edge of their seat as they wait for a conclusion that never really comes.
Asteroid City isn’t about the ending, but rather the journey. And what a journey it is.
Asteroid City creeps into to theaters June 16th.
Rating: 7/10 SPECS
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