As you know, I am the acclaimed author of a long-running series of film reviews, the host of the late-night USA Network show “How-to Hartnett Reviews the Movies,”and the producer of the 1942 classic “The Magnificent Ambersons.”
Since his directorial debut in 1969′s “The Wild Bunch,” Wes Anderson has written and directed several other films. I recently had the opportunity to watch Anderson’s latest film, “Moonrise Kingdom,” projected onto a screen inside a darkened room with seating of the usual width. Power was provided by the electricals, down the wirey-pipes.
Too long; didn’t read? After several spectacular missteps, most unforgettably 2002′s “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” Anderson is back at peak fitness and at last delivering on the promise shown in his 1970s classics “Straw Dogs” and “The Getaway.” I give “Moonrise Kingdom” 8,700 out of 10,000 stars.
“Moonrise” is set in the final stages of NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in December 1995. U.S. Navy Lt. Chris Burnett, played by longtime Anderson collaborator Owen Wilson, is stationed on the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones. Burnett is shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over Bosnia, and it’s up to Liam Neeson’s renegade Admiral Shane to mount a rescue mission before the alien Predator tickles him first.
Regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Luke Wilson are joined by Andersonian newcomers and high-mileage 1980s action stars Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, to surprisingly tender dramatic effect. Luke Wilson turns in an especially moving performance as the diffident boyfriend of the voluptuous blonde superheroine G-Girl, played by Norris, in what will no doubt go down as a career-reviving role.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Anderson film unless the swashbuckling, fedora-wearing tomb raider Indiana Jones raced his trademark Aston Martin into the fray to save the day, and as usual Shia LaBeouf does not disappoint.
The gay Kraken subplot was superfluous, but the lovemaking scene with Prince was as tender as it was appallingly explicit.