ASTEROID CITY

★★★★

WES ANDERSON DOES SCI-FI

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
11th June 2023

Director Wes Anderson's unique style is one of the most recognisable in the modern film landscape. His films are so iconic and beloved that each up feels like an event. While his movies have a cohesive look, they always transport us to new places with different quirky characters that have audiences coming back every time. In his latest film 'Asteroid City', he's putting a sci-fi spin on his classic style.

Students and parents from across the United States are gathering in Asteroid City for the Junior Stargazer convention, where some of the brightest young minds in the country are being awarded for their inventions. We have Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse', 'Sing 2'), who is a recent widow with his son Woodrow (Jake Ryan, 'Eighth Grade', 'Moonrise Kingdom') and triplet young daughters, plus their grandfather Stanley Zak (Tom Hanks, 'Elvis', 'A Man Called Otto') is also paying a visit to the town. Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson, Netflix's 'Marriage Story', 'Black Widow') is a famous actress and is with her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards, TV's 'Modern Love'). We also have Shelly (Sophia Lillis, 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves', 'It') competing, June (Maya Hawke, Netflix's 'Stanger Things' and 'Do Revenge') a teacher who is falling for town cowboy Montana (Rupert Friend, 'The French Dispatch', 'A Simple Favour'), J.J. Kellogg (Liev Schreiber, 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', 'Isle of Dogs') , Sandy Borden (Hope Davis, 'Captain America: Civil War', 'Greenland'), Roger Cho (Steve Park, Apple TV+'s 'Ghosted', 'Snowpiercer') are also parents of kids receiving the award. All guests are staying a local motel run by someone with bold vending machine ideas (Steve Carell, 'Minions' franchise, 'Vice'), and the convention is hosted by General Grif Gibson (Jeffrey Wright, 'The Batman', 'No Time to Die') and scientist Dr Hickenlooper (Tilda Swinton, 'Three Thousand Years of Longing', 'Trainwreck'). The town is turned upside-down when at the awards ceremony an Alien (Jeff Goldblum, 'Jurassic World: Dominion', 'Thor: Ragnarok') turns up and changes everyone's perspective on life.

SWITCH: 'ASTEROID CITY' TRAILER

This is expected from Anderson, but the film from a cinematography and design perspective is absolutely gorgeous. With this many films in, it's incredible how he keeps supplying stunning visuals without it feeling stale. Compared to other Anderson projects this feels the most tongue-in-cheek, with more fourth-wall breaks and a looser comedic plot. Not reviled in trailers (so please don't read this next sentence if you don't want it to be spoiled), but 'Asteroid City' is actually a play and the film is broken up to show the play's creation and behind-the-scenes drama as well as the story of the show.

As always, the A-list all-star cast is bringing their all in this and that makes it an extremely fun adventure.

The film has one of the greatest character designs of an alien; it's exactly what you'd expect an Anderson extra-terrestrial to look like, but he's a scene-stealer when he shows up. As always, the A-list all-star cast is bringing their all in this and that makes it an extremely fun adventure. Even the younger cast is truly incredible, and when the film is just with them it's just as enjoyable.

'Asteroid City' is another delightful film in the wacky world of Wes Anderson. While it doesn't necessarily push the bar any further than his previous films, for Anderson fans this is destined to be one fun trip.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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