Asteroid City (2023) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

Anderson infuses his stories with numerous details that intersect somehow, even when you aren't exactly sure how.

Filmmaker Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch) is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished and polarizing writers/directors of the last 25 years.  For a quarter of a century, he has created some eclectic and unusual movies that audiences seem to either love or despise.  He is described as prolific, visionary, masterful, bizarre, eccentric, etc., and viewers either "get" his stories or think he is simply nuts and mentally ill. You either leave the theater confused and annoyed or "enlightened" and deep in thought.  Honestly, there are a few people who leave feeling both; confused and enlightened...annoyed and philosophical.  His latest endeavor, Asteroid City, is classic Anderson and as divisive as his other movies.

When the film opens we see famous playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton; Fight Club) typing away as the tv announcer (Bryan Cranston; Breaking Bad) describes what Earp is writing.  The story centers around a youth astronomy gathering titled the Stargazer Convention.  The setting is a desert town that has a gas station and about a dozen cabins, where a meteorite fell to earth years before.  First to arrive is Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman; Saving Mr. Banks) with his son, Woodrow (Jake Ryan; Eighth Grade), and Augie's three daughters.  Woodrow is one of the stargazers whose invention is in the running for the top prize.

goAs the other Stargazers, and their parents/chaperones, arrive Augie calls his father-in-law, Stanley Zak (Tom Hanks; Forrest Gump) asking him to go get the girls since Augie's car died.  Stanley agrees only if Augie tells the children the truth about their mother, who passed away three weeks earlier.  As everyone gathers for the convention and the opening ceremony begins, suddenly everyone sees a spaceship and an alien (Jeff Goldblum; Jurassic World: Dominion) pop out, takes the meteorite, and leaves.  At that point, a weekend convention becomes a city under quarantine for over a week. (There is so much more to the story and so many more actors that could be listed but then this review will become 3 pages long).  

Anderson infuses his stories with numerous details that intersect somehow, even when you aren't exactly sure how.  He also brings out unique performances from his cast and you will notice he tends to use the same actors time and time again which is a testament to both him as being a director that actors want to work with and to the actors he chooses since he has numerous options when it comes to casting his characters.  In this case, there are so many excellent actors in Asteroid City that it would be difficult to single almost anyone out.  From Hanks to Schwartzman to Norton to Steve Carrell (The Office) and Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), etc. they are all accomplished actors.  

There are however two actors that I felt were memorable and stood out.  Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) is superb as the Hollywood actress, Midge, who is there with her daughter, a stargazer award winner.  Midge's and Augie's relationship, especially during their conversations through their bathroom windows is interesting and Johansson is so serious, she barely cracks a smile the entire time on set which sets a serious tone to her portion of the plot.  The second stand-out performance is a character that has no lines and that is in the movie for probably 5 minutes tops.  Goldblum, as the Alien, is absolutely hilarious and so bizarre that the cameo epitomizes the truly unusual aspects of a Wes Anderson film.

If you are one of those people that loves Wes Anderson's writing and directing style, you will want to see Asteroid City opening weekend.  If not, you should still see the movie, as it is more of the same cinematic genius the world has come to expect.

Grade: A-

Stream from Amazon Prime
Purchase Asteroid City from the iTunes store.
Watch on Apple TV

For more information about Asteroid City visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Asteroid City images are courtesy of Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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