Once again exploring love and loss, Wes Anderson’s latest film Asteroid City is everything his fans expect, with a dose of science fiction. Set in 1955, Asteroid City is a fictional location in the Southwestern United States. With a population of 87, the city gets its name from a massive “impact crater” at its core. Here, young astronomy buffs gather for the Junior Stargazer Convention. On his way there with his children—brainy son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) and daughters Andromeda (Ella Faris), Pandora (Gracie Faris) and Cassiopeia (Willan Faris)—wartime photographer Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) breaks down between Arid Plains and Parched Gulch.
Eventually, they arrive in Asteroid city shrouded in tragedy. Augie’s wife (Margot Robbie) has recently died three weeks ago but he hasn’t told his children. As Augie copes with loss, he and his kids meet others who are there with their parents to show off their scientific wizardry. Oh, Augie knows he better find the courage to tell his kids about their mother before his pistol packing father-in-law arrives.
I’ve simplified things here and ignored the unusual narrative framework. Rather than a straightforward telling of Augie and family’s story, Asteroid City imagines these events as part of a play within a TV drama, within a film. while Wes Anderson has always been a little hit and miss with me—probably a little bit more hit than miss, as Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom are faves—Asteroid City is the latter. I found the story hard to follow at times, given the unusual narrative style and the large cast of characters. The play within a movie style seems silly and a few characters aren’t given much to do.
The film is presented in two aspect ratios on the Blu-ray. The movie used 1.37:1 for parts that depicted the 1950s TV drama, whereas the rest of the material came 2.39:1—though it also briefly windowboxed Stargazer shots at 1.37:1 within the 2.39:1 frame (Whew!!). The image is sharp, no matter the dimensions. The gauzy vibe of things is well presented. The teal and orangish palette pops throughout. Blacks are dark and inky. There are no scratches or other print anomalies.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track is nothing special but suits the film. things open up here and there. Effects are appropriate with a bit of directionality. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise.
English, Spanish and French subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- The Making of Asteroid City (HD, 7:20) Split into four short parts, we get comments from Wes Anderson.
- Asteroid City 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