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Moonrise Kingdom - Blu-ray Review

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Moonrise Kingdom - Movie Review

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5 stars

Prepare to roll your eyes.  I’m about to make a declaration that will probably offend some and cause a mild panic in others.

Ready?

Moonrise Kingdom is the absolute best Wes Anderson film.  With this passionate look at the past, it seems the director of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox has topped even himself.  Yes, it’s still starry-eyed and deadpan.  This time, though, it is Anderson’s world filtered through the eyes of a child.  Yes, it has his trademark style throughout and, yes, it stars Bill Murray.  For those of you turned off by Anderson’s aesthetic flair and quirky auteur movie mannerisms, Moonrise Kingdom is probably best avoided.  Perhaps it is the gentleness of the movie grounded by the fierce honesty that underlines the script that moves me so, but – for his fans – it seems this is the film he has been working toward since establishing his “voice” in cinema with Bottle Rockets.

Set in 1965, Moonrise Kingdom speaks to the memory of the past.  It isn’t my past.  It isn’t even Anderson’s past.  It’s a visual idea of what that time period could have been like for so many youngsters about to enter the hormonally challenged teenage world.  For owl-eyed Sam (Jared Gilman) and misunderstood Suzy (Kara Hayward), the summer of love requires a fictional island called Penzance off the coast of New England in order to survive the world that doesn’t act like it needs or wants them around.

I think we all know that those tough middle school years can actually look, feel, and be that isolating.

After corresponding through letters, the two dreamers dare to run away from the adult world represented here by coonskin cap-wearing Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), a woman so bureaucratic she only responds to the name of Social Services (Tilda Swinton), a megaphone mother (Frances McDormand), and sad sack of a father (Murray).  Joining them is a local sheriff (Bruce Willis) who is having an affair with Suzy’s mother and another Scout leader (Jason Schwartzman).

Without a shred of cynicism, Moonrise Kingdom earns its wings through the pure delight that absolutely kisses this film.  Each glorious shot from Robert Yeoman’s camera – using gorgeous super 16 film stock – registers the sweetness of Anderson’s world.  The nostalgia doesn’t stop there.  Narrated by Bob Balaban, the film is so evocative of its time period that even its actual phrasings have texture and, at times, memory.  It has been argued that Anderson can’t quite handle emotion due to an over reliance of props (hats, glasses, clothes) for his characters instead of actual authenticity.  The same statement will most certainly be made here.

Embracing this with more of the same (other than myself, what adult wears a coonskin cap?), Anderson gives it a heart that tugs on every string.  Moonrise Kingdom is ceremonial trump on the world Anderson makes for his characters to live in.  Paper Mache props fool the adult world and everything – prop or otherwise - is symbolic of how a youngster might see the world; might have seen 1965; might have reason to escape.

Moonrise Kingdom won’t win over anyone on the fence about Anderson’s styling.  His auteurship is on full display here.  What it does do is deliver the most emotional and most satisfying film of his career.  The complex nuances established by the cast and the film’s ultimate message are the most sincere and surprising.  For the modern world, Wes Anderson truly is a gifted storyteller and, with Moonrise Kingdom, we finally understand that kids truly are alright.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Moonrise Kingdom - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.
Runtime:
94 mins.
Director
: Wes Anderson
Writer
: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Cast: Edward Norton; Bruce Willis; Bill Murray; Tilda Swinton; Jason Schwartzman
Genre
: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Tagline: Moonrise Kingdom
Memorable Movie Quote: "Does it concern you that your daughter has just run away from home?"
Distributor:
Focus Features
Official Site:
www.moonrisekingdom.com
Release Date: May 25, 2012 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 16, 2012

Synopsis: Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore -- and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl's parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Moonrise Kingdom - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

3.5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 16, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A

The summer of 1965 comes alive on this 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The picture is golden warm and feels very comfortable with its large grain structure. The yellow hue dominant throughout the feature is faithful to cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman's design and perfectly matches the setting and feel of the story. Anderson's framed shots and immaculately detailed sets are very striking throughout the feature and never short on color. Fine detail is very good, although the film is stylized in such a manner to look a little aged. A couple of important nighttime scenes are subject to some scrutiny as the blacks crush the shadows a bit. Overall, a fine release from Universal. The surprisingly immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is absolutely alive with island background and nature sounds, with the surround speakers getting frequent use. It’s a good workout for the eyes and the ears.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

And we all fall down. Ugh. Universal screws up and offers this critically acclaimed feature only a trio of featurettes whose running time amounts to a total of 9 whopping minutes. The electronically presented press kit is a crying shame.  Watching Murray sip some rum while being a tour guide is fun but … these featurettes are pitiful.

  • A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom (3 min)
  • Welcome to the Island of New Penzance (3 min)
  • Set Tour with Bill Murray (3 min)

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