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MOVIE REVIEW

Asteroid City

also known as “Asteroidų miestas,” “Астероїд-Сіті,” “アステロイドシティ,” “小行星都市”
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for brief graphic nudity, smoking and some suggestive material.

Note: To our knowledge, the allowance of a full frontal nude woman is a first for a PG-13 rating. This film was originally rated R, but the director won his appeal.

Reviewed by: Pamela Karpelenia
CONTRIBUTOR

Moral Rating: Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance Comedy Drama
Length: 1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release: 2023
USA Release: June 23, 2023 (wide release)
DVD: August 15, 2023
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Relevant Issues
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Nihilism in films

Nihilism (from Latin nihil meaning “nothing”) is a philosophy that rejects generally accepted or fundamental aspects of human existence, rejecting genuine moral truths or values, rejected the possibility of knowledge, and asserting the ultimate meaninglessness or purposelessness of life and of the universe.

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Meaning of life

What is the true meaning of life? “The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever.” Salvation of lost and sinful man is necessary to avoid eternal punishment and this salvation comes only by the regeneration by the Holy Spirit through truly believing in our Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God.

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on Christian Answers—full-length motion picture.

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Teenagers

Group of brainy teenagers

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

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Nudity in movies—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes?

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Astronomy and the Bible

About astronomy in the Bible

Astronomy FAQs

ASTRONOMY—Can astronomy lead a person to God? Answer

STARDUST—Are humans made of stardust? Answer

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Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets?

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Featuring Jason SchwartzmanAugie Steenbeck, a war photographer and father to Woodrow
Scarlett JohanssonMidge Campbell
Tom HanksStanley Zak, Augie’s father-in-law
Jeffrey WrightGeneral Grif Gibson
Tilda SwintonDr. Hickenlooper
Bryan CranstonThe Host
Edward NortonConrad Earp, a legendary playwright
Adrien BrodySchubert Green, a director
Liev SchreiberJ.J. Kellogg
Hope DavisSandy Borden
Rupert FriendMontana, a singing cowboy interested in June
Maya HawkeJune Douglas, a teacher who is interested in Montana
Steve CarellMotel Manager
Matt DillonHank, a mechanic
Hong ChauPolly Green
Willem DafoeSaltzburg Keitel, a revered acting teacher
Margot Robbiea television actress
Jeff GoldblumThe Alien
Rita WilsonMrs. Weatherford
Fisher StevensDetective
See all »
Director Wes Anderson
Producer Indian Paintbrush
American Empirical Pictures
See more »
Distributor
Distributor: Focus Features. Trademark logo.
Focus Features
, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, a division of NBCUniversal/Comcast

“You can’t wake up, if you don’t fall asleep”

“Asteroid City,” opens as a showcase narrative of the film (Bryan Cranston), presented through the eyes of the writer (Edward Norton) and his creative process of producing a screenplay for film. Once you get past all of the arty prologue, a story emerges, set in 1955 in a peculiar city, with 5 exceptional teens and their quirky families attend the Junior Stargazer Convention held in this fictional American desert town, called Asteroid City.

This cast of quirky characters include a recent widower and war photographer Augie (Jason Schwartzman), his son Woodrow (Jake Ryan), a movie star Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), and daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards). Other actors include Steve Carell, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, and Adrien Brody. This cast of offbeat characters experience an out of this world encounter with an alien that sets the stage for this unconventional film.

The plot/tone of this movie is uniquely Wes Anderson. Bright cinematography and awkward paced dialog with long quizzical stares with casual nihilism as a back drop. With a PG-13 rating, the film pushes the envelope with brief full frontal female nudity, a homosexual kiss (2 men), smoking, and drinking. There are also 3 little girls that claim to be witches and perform a spell with ashes. This is played as causal childish amusement.

As for the Biblical meaning derived from this film. The protagonist is an atheist, and his children are Episcopalian and witches. The protagonist son says nonchalantly by the end of the film that he no longer believes in God. This film unknowingly shows how the world is in the depths of spiritual apathy and darkness despite its bright dreamscape. We as Christians are called to be a light in the darkness and spread the good news and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Q & A

How to witness to atheists

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

Learn about spiritual light versus darkness

Overall the film, while unique, is overtly pretentious and comes off as trite, with a dogmatic chant. Even if you enjoy Wes Anderson’s style of filmmaking, this one will likely push your patience.

  • Nudity: Extreme
  • Occult: Very Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Heavy
  • Sex: Moderately Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Violence: Mild
  • Profane language: Mild
  • Wokeism: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Ever see one of those flimsy wire-frame spinning postcard holders popular at truck stops or tourist traps? Now imagine approaching one and spinning it. As it spins you look at all the beautiful, bright, one-scene rectangles of whatever popular tourist destination you are at. Now you try your hand at putting together a cohesive story using all these stylized static images as they speed past your eyeballs. Can it be done? As you enter Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City” this seems to be essentially the challenge. Wonderful images keep flashing past your eyes but is it able to keep you plugged in for 105 minutes?

Without a doubt, “Asteroid City” may be (stylistically speaking) THE most Wes Anderson film that anyone has ever seen. The film is a series of beautiful, perfectly constructed postcard-esque scenes that delight the eye as the teal/orange filters are turned up to Max. The world that Wes Anderson creates here is a sublime, innocent 1950’s period piece set somewhere in the great Southwest complete with far off mesas, deep blue skies, rugged sandy tones, and a whole collection of Hollywood darlings that seem to flock to Mr Anderson’s productions. The characters are as quirky as the camera movements and soundtrack (if you love old Americana you will love this soundtrack, btw). Just for the esthetics alone “Asteroid City” is an experience to behold and possibly worth the price of admission if you love inventive, retro-focused scenery. However, some may find the substance of story-structure challenging as we are introduced in essence to two worlds that are actually one.See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Mike Klamecki (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…If you asked an AI program to create a Wes Anderson movie, you’d get “Asteroid City,” the latest — and worst — film from the writer-director… All the memorable characteristics that make a Wes Anderson film are hear—and they’re tired. …
Odie Henderson, The Boston Globe
…It’s hard to engage with characters and situations that feel so studied, so stuck in a script that rarely allows them any emotional development — especially when the director himself seems so removed from them. … the tropes are tired and the gags ain’t witty / Make it stop (Oh, won’t you please make it stop). …
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
…Too stiff and stylized… Even the glorious colors of “Asteroid City” become eyeball-numbing after a while, and the novelty of its Tinkertoy sensibility wears off practically within the first 10 minutes. …
Stephanie Zacharek, Time
…Buries his sci-fi story under fancy piles of eccentricity… it might well be the least involving film he’s ever made…
Steve Pond, The Wrap
…“Asteroid City” looks smashing, but as a movie it’s for Anderson die-hards only, and maybe not even too many of them. …dramatically inert… If your reaction to that is “Huh?” you won’t be alone. …
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
no Anderson movie except “The Darjeeling Limited” runs so low on energy. …
Kyle Smith, The Wall Street Journal
…Maybe the whole endeavor is some kind of self-portrait of an artist who doesn’t know what he wants to say anymore, or how to even say, “I don’t know how to say what I want to say anymore.” …
Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post
…Wes Anderson moving even closer to cultural curation and further from sustained storytelling. …
Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine
…There are so many Wes-ian constructs at play here, so many deliberate attempts to keep us at a distance, it’s as if we’re standing on a sidewalk in the rain, looking through a thick window at a painting hanging on a distant wall. We’re too busy thinking about what we’re seeing to feel much of anything at all. …
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times