Skip to content
Menu

Asteroid City Review – Wes Anderson’s Style Loses All Subtance

Wes Anderson has been responsible for some of the most pretentious movies that have come out over the last 15 years.

Wes Anderson has been responsible for some of the most pretentious movies that have come out over the last 15 years.

The term ‘style over substance’ is commonly used among cinema snobs as a phrase used to describe films with strong artistic expression but weak and incoherent storytelling. 

(L to R) Jake Ryan as “Woodrow”, Jason Schwartzman as “Augie Steenbeck” and Tom Hanks as “Stanley Zak” in writer/director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features 

Imagine a film where the central narrative is fundamentally absent. Style over substance is the perfect way to describe Wes Anderson’s library of films. Over the last few years, There’s been a growing movement of Wes Anderson fans who like his style of movies because they believe that pretending they understand what his films are about makes some seem smarter than their peers.

Anderson’s films have no problem getting the biggest names in Hollywood to appear in his projects. Anderson has a favorite list of A-list heavyweights such as Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, and Tilda Swinton that are recurring favorites in his movies.

While the terms ‘hipster’ and ‘pretentious’ are a couple of buzzwords that describe the target audience of Wes Anderson, ‘Asteroid City’ is one of the best examples of why this type of cinema does not translate well with mainstream audiences looking for more than artistic expression.

‘Asteroid City’ is a story within a story. On one hand, you have a classic 1950s television show portraying the events to the audience in a fourth-wall-breaking fashion.  However, deeper within that story you have a group of actors and filmmakers who arrive in a 1950s town just outside an atomic bomb testing site. 

(L to R) Jake Ryan as “Woodrow”, Grace Edwards as “Dinah”, Ethan Josh Lee as “Ricky”, Aristou Meehan as “Clifford”, and Sophia Lillis as “Shelly” in writer/director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features 

Despite being in town to work on the project, their lives are thrown into disarray when the group is mysteriously visited by aliens.

Meta is the best word to describe this film because ‘Asteroid City’ is a fictional play centered around the fictional playwright Conrad Earp played by Edward Norton. For moviegoers, there are three different stories playing out within on big tent. 

The film’s perspective is viewed by the actual audience watching a televised presentation of the writing and staging of this play hosted by Bryan Cranston. Meanwhile, the only sense of a story follows a widowed father and his kids who find themselves stranded in this small town that is suddenly invaded by actors, producers, aliens, and a Christian Children’s School. 

‘Asteroid City’ is a movie that looks like it was made by AI and that is not a positive. The visuals of this film look like someone entered a bunch of props in Stable Diffusion and this was the result that they got back. The only thing that’s more robotic looking than the visuals is the dialogue from our characters.

(L to R) Jake Ryan as “Woodrow”, Jason Schwartzman as “Augie Steenbeck” and Matt Dillon as “Mechanic” in writer/director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features 

Those seeking an interesting story are going to be left disappointed by this Oscar Bait summer movie. The premise opens itself up to be corky yet entertaining, but the delivery is rather dry, a staple of Wes Anderson films. ‘Asteroid City’ is described as a comedy-drama film but grading on that scale, the movie fails both metrics.

There aren’t many laughs to be had. The ones that escape come from pure awkwardness rather than cleverness written into the script. As a drama, the film doesn’t have a leg to stand on constantly switching between four fall-breaking to playwriting that destroys any resemblance of a dramatic story.

Audiences are left with a film that is the cinema equivalent of huffing its own farts for 2-hours. If that wasn’t bad enough, the film concludes with one of the cringes of the lines of dialogue seeing quite some time. The pseudo-intellectual Mantra of “You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep.”

(L to R) Steve Carell as “Motel Manager”, Aristou Meehan as “Clifford” and Liev Schreiber as “J.J. Kellogg” in writer/director Wes Anderson’s ASTEROID CITY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features 

A line that the movies repeats several times to make sure that you got the point. 
‘Asteroid City’ is less of a movie and more of an exercise in mindless self-indulgence.  

Wes Anderson movies have become nothing more than a summer camp for A-list actors taking a break from doing major studio films allowing them to get lost within their own artistry.

While these films may be fun for the actors in behind the scenes, the same can’t be said for the audience watching at home.

‘Asteroid City’ loses style and substance in one of West Anderson’s biggest hit misses in the last few years.

See or Skip: You have to be a hardcore cinema snob to find appreciation in Asteroid City, the average moviegoers won’t have the patience. 
 

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners