A movie where I can live for a couple of hours or so with a smile on my face and satisfaction my mind makes me very happy. Wes Anderson has a view of the world and a way of presenting that to the rest of us that captures my imagination and my loyalty. Moonrise Kingdom explores being young and rejected, picked on, being different, being in love, being honest, being broken but hopeful. All this wrapped with compelling characters with some oddness, some frustration, even some blandness with flair. It’s the kind of movie I don’t like to write much about. It’s better experienced free from any pre-planted perceptions or hints at what you will find on the screen.
I will say a few things and leave it to you for exploring the rest. Speaking of exploration, this is a movie driven by a young couple’s motivation to explore their feelings, their need for freedom, the future, and life, not to mention a wandering route away from home.
The grown ups in their lives are all messed up. Anderson has a strong theme in his movies, screwy families with a lot of heart, idiosyncratic ways, and always a few lessons to be learned about life. I feel like mentioning Wes Anderson a lot, and I guess when it comes down to it, his movies are more soaked with him as the writer/director than most other filmmakers’ final cuts seem to be. He brings a more refined approach this time around, even though the characters are still rich with personality, their actions are not as obtuse as in previous stories. The big gestures and sharp dialog is saved for only a few of the people in the kingdom he creates:)
We are focused very overtly on only a handful of folks, their choices and dilemmas. Rather than giving us a new character around every corner to get to know, and hopefully understand, we meet about 6 people fairly quickly and quickly “get” them. The rest of the story is wrapped around a slice of time of their lives, all connected by two kids who have fallen in love and designed an escape plan for their lives.
The young man and young woman are brilliant, let’s just get that out of the way. He’s sharp and tuned in to his cause as the determined intelligent however somewhat troubled youth who wants only to be independent, understood, free to live his life his way. She’s also troubled, tormented by a need to digest the world through her binoculars, from a distance, but close up. The parents are a combination of dead and intellectual snobs, you can find out who’s got which parents, dead or academic.
The performances are almost all fantastic. I have to admit that Mr. Die Hard doesn’t do much for me anymore. You can say the shine has tarnished over the years. He’s charming enough, commands a certain attention while on the screen, and this time around he is more subtle than usual so I’m OK with him as the unsteady Sheriff. Edward Norton is Edward Norton. He puts his whole self into every little body movement, facial responses, inflections in his voice, and brings a Scout leader to life in a way that almost distracts me from the fact that I’m watching the Edward Norton. Did I type Edward Norton enough times?
Murray and McDormand captivate me, always, and convince me wholeheartedly that they are a tumultuously bored couple who have issues hidden behind the bullhorn, the ax, the wine, and the awkward infidelity.
The other kids are all on the ball. Severe at times, caricatures of the bullies, the buddies, the crazed scouts on their missions of being scouts…whatever that means. The combination of these kids who do a great job of a tiny bit of slapstick and a more sophisticated deadpan irony, sarcasm, whatever other snotty things writers like to inject into their screen dwelling people.
Overall I would say that if I turned on Moonrise Kingdom right now I’d be thrilled to watch it again, and even if you do it tomorrow, I’ll watch it one more time. It’s a comfortable, exciting, enchanting movie that looks beautifully unbeautiful, makes me smile, and better than that, makes my husband (Mr. Ascully) very very happy:)
- A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom – A short EPK like featurette that shows you some a tiny bit of the making of the film.
- Welcome To The Island Of New Penzance – The narrator gives you a look around the island.
- Set Tour With Bill Murray – Bill Murray being his usual sarcastic self gives you a look around the set used at the beginning of the film. very short but fun.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I want to like the cover more than I do, but I don’t. It’s got that Wes Anderson look, the whole cast of characters posed in an almost awkward configuration. I want something more striking like the screenshot above. I would have that as a poster in my house, but not the cover on the box. As for the menu, it’s got awesome film of some of the locations in the movie, but not any of the action. It’s kind of relaxing to just sit and watch the menu…strange but true.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Wes Anderson has a distinct style and Moonrise Kingdom was filmed using 16mm film stock This means it’s not quite as sharp or crisp as most modern day movies on Blu-Ray. This does add a dream like quality to the beautifully created set design and preserves the film makers vision. Moonrise Kingdom has an intentional yellowish cast it almost seems like it was all filmed during the golden hour, some might like it some will hate it, either way you can’t question Anderson’s eye for detail.
I really didn’t expect to be wowed by the audio track of a small movie like Moonrise Kingdom, but wow this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is something to behold. Right from the outset the music in the opening sequence literally envelopes you and the rest of the movie whenever music fades in you hear it in the 5.1 space. During the third act when the storm arrives you can hear the water woosh behind you and lightning crack the ground right in front of you. This is a very precise soundtrack that will impress even the most jaded filmgoer.
I’m torn. I truly love this movie, however, I would not spend over 20 bucks on a movie these day. Moonrise Kingdom looks like it’s around the $24 mark, and hopefully you can find it for less. If not, stream it for the rental price and ENJOY. There aren’t that many extras to bolster the value, even though the movie is amazing. I suppose any story told in a way that can transport me to another place, time, and dimension of entertainment should be something I would pay big bucks for, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Overall Score 8.5/10