DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Moonrise Kingdom, Blu-ray 2-Disc Combo (2012)

Another masterpiece from a true maverick!

Published on October 20, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom, Blu-ray 2-Disc Combo (2012)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban
Director: Wes Anderson
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment 62123585 [10/16/2012] (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy – Ultraviolet)
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio (Blu-ray): English DTS-HD MA 5.1; DD 2.0 DTS Surround 5.1; (Extras): Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish DTS 5.1, French (EU) DTS 5.1; (DVD): DD 5.1/ DD 2.0, Spanish DD 5.1, French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras (Blu-Ray and DVD): “A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom”; “Welcome To The Isle Of New
Penzance”; “Set Tour With Bill Murray”
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: Audio: *****     Video: ****1/2 

Wes Anderson has established himself as one of the most unique film directors in modern cinema. His initial project, Bottle Rocket, introduced a quirky style, and unleashed the Wilson Brothers onto the movie going public. His other standout films include Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited. Each of these films is different in narrative, cinematic style and the unique social mores that inhabit the stories. Anderson has garnered two Academy Award Nominations. He has assembled a company of creative, like-minded actors to join him on his literary adventures. Linear context, while present, doesn’t seem to bind the spontaneity to any precept., Where Bottle Rocket stood as a crime movie, The Royal Tenenbaums was concerned with societal and familial dysfunction, Darjeeling Limited explored a very broken trio of siblings against an Indian back drop. As all of these films are complex and unrelated, they draw upon similar dynamics (comedy, loneliness, messed-up families and maybe hidden in the script, an unlikely heroic figure).

Universal Home Studios Entertainment has released Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom.  After an unfairly referenced “career malaise” by the press, this film should quiet the Anderson doubters. The film explores the story of a twelve-year-old girl (a brilliant Kara Hayward) living a dreary life with her parents (whose marriage appears to be disintegrating), played smartly by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. She tries to escape into the wilderness with her newly found soulmate, a bucolic Holden Caulfield, played by Jared Gilman. Gilman has resigned from his scout troop to the dismay of his leader (a very funny Edward Norton). The harried scoutmaster pursues the renegade with the help of a local sheriff (Bruce Willis). All of this takes place in the middle of an impending storm. Naturally there are subtle twists to the story, cameos and sub-plots to enhance the storyline. Within this saga, a gentle tension builds as the intertwined characters react to their circumstances.

What makes this film work is the focus on the charming, determined pre-adolescent couple. They are believable, multi-faceted and have a natural gift for comedy. Anderson directs the larger than life supporting stars in a way that supports the main story. In particular Willis contributes a sensitive, measured performance as the beleaguered police captain. Murray continues to polish his trademark deadpan, but it fits the sentiment of the movie. Above all, the delicate balance of characters and plot development is interconnected. Anderson has a talent for bringing pathos and humanity to comic pretenses.

The audio of Moonrise Kingdom is surprisingly riveting. Every minute detail of dialogue and   subtle nature sounds is captured in precise and lush lossless DTS 5.1 surround. Whether it’s loud thunder or a faint breeze whipping through the trees, the direction and sound depth is impeccable. There is a terrific original music score (and some Hank Williams music) that benefits from the balanced mix.

The transfer to Blu-ray is excellent. The yellow/golden summer hue is tone rich and contrasts the vibrancy of richer colors. The overall imagery is crisp, but not overly engineered. The natural settings have an organic haziness, and the interior shots are muted. Nothing draws attention from the actors. There is a limited amount of extra bonus material. [There’s much use made of music by Benjamin Britten, including The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra…Ed.]

In a year of hi-tech blockbusters, Moonrise Kingdom makes a statement for independent films.

—Robbie Gerson




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