Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Moonrise Kingdom and Iron Sky

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom opened up the Cannes Film Festival leaving many critics delighted with many applauding the quality of the film. After his last animated effort (Fantastic Mr Fox) Anderson returns to where he started dealing with younger rebellious characters in love (though in Rushmore the younger character falls in love with an older character). Known for creative and idiosyncratic talents much of Anderson visual talents are on display in his latest work Moonrise Kingdom.

Having met in an encounter in which in the real world you would have been branded a ‘freak’ the two young lovers become pen pals and eventually conduct a plan in which the two will run away together.  Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) escapes from the boy scouts group while Suzy (Kara Hayward) runs away from home to meet him at a prearranged location. Scoutmaster Randy Ward (a ridiculous looking, but great Edward Norton) notices the escaped Sam and alerts mournful Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) of the escaped kid. A search party is formed whilst a storm is approaching which will lash the islands of New Penzance and Fort Lebanon.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is a heartfelt, beautifully designed tale about young love in 1965, from the opening scene, in which the camera pans across the house in which Suzy and her family reside, it is clear that the attention to detail is one of perfectionism. Moonrise Kingdom is certainly beautifully designed like much of Anderson’s work; in addition Robert Yeoman’s cinematography sets the two young lovers against the backdrop of a beautiful landscape with the sun setting on the horizon. The set designs and costumes are created to the extent that no small detail goes missing, but importantly Anderson does not forgo creating an engaging story.

The central performances by the two young stars are terrific; they are supported brilliantly by the likes of Edward Norton, Bill Murray (the girl’s dad) and Bruce Willis while Tilda Swinton almost gained all the acting plaudits with her brief, but excellent performance as the social worker. Yet despite the fine supporting performances from a huge array of talent it is the newcomers who are the centre of attention. Kara Hayward is brilliant as Suzy who, like Lolita, is matured and developed far beyond her years, while Sam, clearly rather intelligent is rather less mature than Suzy. The two young stars gel together wonderfully as their romance is believable and authentic as they share touching moments while sitting on the beach overlooking the setting sun.

Anderson not only creates a visually splendid film but also an engaging story that gives the viewer a sense of nostalgia or yearning for young love, yet, at the same time, Anderson shows its naivety. Anderson’s whimsical almost surreal story is charming and consistently amusing with its references to the likes of The Shawshank Redemption, Son and Rambow and plenty of Hollywood War films and TV shows such as Dad’s Army. The film’s conclusion somewhat steps over the line into absurdity, however the element of tension as the storm approaches is intense and ominous as the thunderous storm looks set to batter the Islands of New Penzance and Fort Lebanon. The viewer can feel the calm before the storm as it remains an uninviting prospect and gathers in intensity when the social worker arrives with a scheme to solve Sam’s troublemaking behaviour.

Moonrise Kingdom is a charming, sweet and enjoyable film thanks to Anderson’s solid direction, the exquisite visuals and a collection of superb performances, but the two young stars may get much of the attention. Moonrise Kingdom is perhaps the most heartfelt film of Anderson’s career.


Since the film was announced in 2006 Iron Sky has been discussed among the cult movie fans who decided to contribute to the film’s final budget. Six years in the making the film was finally premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to mixed reviews. A few months later Iron Sky was released in British cinemas but for only one, single solitary day, until there were complaints and the distributors agreed to increase the film’s duration in cinemas.

The premise is certainly what drove the anticipation in certain quarters for such a film as it concerns a group of Nazis who fled to the moon after their defeat in 1945. It is now 2018 and they are returning from the dark side of the moon to invade and gain control of Earth. Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) sends down Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) to meet the US President (Stephanie Paul) and send the word for the troops to advance. Meanwhile, on Earth, Sarah Palin – I mean the US president – is attempting to get re-elected for a second term.

Iron Sky is the type of film that will find its home on DVD, late night TV or on the Sci-fi channel, but that does not take away the fact that is utterly ludicrously enjoyable. Undoubtedly the film is all over the place as it lurches from tone to tone from black comedy to political satire, from slapstick to serious political statements, the result of these tonal shifts is an uneven but entertaining ride. The political satire is amusing (the US president is clearly modelled on Sarah Palin) and the bickering in the UN is also very funny with North Korea being embarrassed and mocked on one occasion. There are also many humorous   references to war films such as Downfall, Dr Strangelove and Apocalypse Now as well as major Science Fiction films such as the Star Wars saga.

Iron Sky just about avoids falling apart as, beneath the unique central premise, there isn’t much to the story, because of this Iron Sky does quite slightly dull as it reaches its smoky and explosive conclusion. However it is amusing and well acted enough to be mostly enjoyable throughout its running time. Iron Sky is occasionally let down by its script, which could have had some extra work done on it to improve its overall quality. The set designs and special effects are very impressive, which for a film with a budget of around six million do look staggering, and the score is also mightily impressive. The performances are solid as Gotz Otto, Udo Kier and Julia Dietze churn out good performances despite the poor dialogue they were given.

Yet despite the fact that it’s rather sluggish in its final act and the film's tone is shooting off in every direction the ludicrousness of the film will perhaps make it a cult favourite.


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