Asteroid City (2023)

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Movie Reviews, New In Theaters | 0 comments

Wes Anderson is undoubtedly one of the most creative and visionary storytellers to emerge from Hollywood and it’s incredibly impressive that he’s continued to stay true to his signature style across multiple decades. Known for his whimsical sets and his eloquent vocabulary, Anderson has crafted several worlds inhabited by strange and peculiar characters. Asteroid City is no different, however this time around Anderson adds an unnecessary number of layers to a story that only grows harder to follow the longer it goes on. A theatrical production within a TV special within a Telecast, the film starts convoluted and seems to only create these layers of separation to fit in all the band of usual suspects that Anderson employs in his films.

Asteroid City Wes Anderson

Asteroid City follows Jason Schwartzman as a grieving father and his kids who get stuck in the titular Asteroid City, a small town commemorating an asteroid that fell to Earth long ago. The townspeople are used to nuclear testing and scientific study, and when the need to quarantine arises, the family must manage with the aid of the other entrapped citizens. Stacked to the brim with terrific talent, Asteroid City boasts a leading cast that also includes Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Steve Carrell, Edward Norton, and even Adrian Brody. Despite all the acting prowess in the film, the roles and dialogue are so spread out that certain characters only appear to read a line or two and check the box that they appeared in another Wes Anderson movie. Between science fair activities and a questionable military presence, it’s easy to forget for a while that the film will inevitably cut to Bryan Cranston on a telecast to explain to us the underlying meaning of the scenes we’re watching.

Despite enjoying most of the film and finding myself smiling throughout most of the runtime, I couldn’t help feeling letdown in the end, if only because there are interesting ideas at play that never get the time to fully flesh out. The story gets bogged down in showing you quirky characters and too many plotlines that feel inconsequential to the “main” story we’re following. Anderson can’t help getting in his own way as he seeks to showcase every aspect of his storytelling devices seemingly all at once. He’s made it clear that he has no interest in the internet’s depiction of his filmmaking style, but it’s somewhat hard to blame the internet because they got him dead to rights with their impressions. Style without substance really harms his latest feature and has me yearning for the complete package of the likes of The Grand Budapest Hotel, where everything and everyone felt purposeful.

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