Moonrise Kingdom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Shot Super 16mm, Kingdom looked good for that format but nonetheless suffered from the stock’s limitations.
Most of the concerns stemmed from iffy definition. Close-ups looked fine, and most wider exteriors showed decent detail. However, when we got interiors that went even vaguely broad, they tended to appear soft and mushy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to manifest themselves. Due to the film stock, grain was more noticeable than usual for a modern movie, but it wasn’t as heavy as expected; the grain seemed natural and unobtrusive. I saw no signs of print flaws.
In terms of colors, Kingdom went with a fairly yellow palette to match the autumnal setting. Some brighter hues emerged, though, and the tones tended to be pretty full and rich. Blacks were reasonably deep and dense, while shadows were acceptable; they could be a little murky, but that wasn’t a serious issue. Objectively, this wasn’t a great image, but given the restrictions of the source, I thought it deserved a “B”.
Due to its status as a low-key character piece, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Moonrise Kingdom didn’t get many opportunities to shine. Nonetheless, it offered a perfectly acceptable soundscape that occasionally delivered more dynamic material. Music filled out the spectrum well, and the general sense of environment worked well.
Occasionally the soundfield came more actively to life – such as on the water and especially during the storm that capped the story – and those moments opened up the tale in a compelling manner. Much of the movie remained low-key, but the mix suited the material.
Audio quality was satisfactory. Music fared based, as the score and songs appeared vibrant and full. Effects usually stayed subdued, but they always came across as accurate and showed good punch when necessary. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive. Nothing here really impressed, but the soundtrack was worth a “B”.
How does the Criterion release compare to the original Blu-ray from 2012? Both displayed awfully similar picture and audio. The Criterion version claims to offer “restored” visuals, which perplexes me, as I can’t figure out why a three-year-old movie would need to be “restored”. In any case, perhaps others will discern some obvious differences between the picture/audio of the two discs, but I can’t.
The Criterion release mixes old and new extras. In the “new” category, we find an audio commentary from director Wes Anderson, co-producer Roman Coppola, and actors Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Ed Norton and Jake Ryan. Along with Criterion president Peter Becker, Anderson and Ryan deliver a running, sporadically screen-specific chat. The track involves the others via occasional phone calls. We learn about script/story/characters, Anderson’s processes, sets and locations, cast and performances, camerawork, visual effects, music, and related topics.
A quirky movie gets a quirky commentary, and not just due to its unusual structure. It also branches off to allow Ryan to play a Mozart piece on the piano, and we hear his impression of Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character.
Despite these goofy choices, the commentary works pretty well. While I think it could be more focused than it is, we still get a good array facts and insights connected to the movie. Even with its quirks, this becomes a useful piece.
Another new component, The Making of Moonrise Kingdom breaks into four areas. We get “Exploring the Set” (17:11), “Storyboard Animatics and Narrator Tests” (4 scenes, 8:39), “Auditions” (4:34) and “Miniatures” (1:38). Narrated by Anderson’s assistant Martin Scali, “Set” gives us raw footage from the shoot, while the “Tests” let us see Anderson’s meticulous planning processes.
“Auditions” give us reels from Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Lucas Hedges, Rob Campbell, Tommy Nelson, Andreas Sheikh, LJ Foley, Gabriel Rush, Charlie Kilgore, Chandler Frantz, and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick. Finally, “Miniatures” shows those reduced-size effects elements.
Except for “Auditions”, all of these offer good information. Actually, “Auditions” is fine when it shows actual tryouts, but it mostly focuses on interview snippets from the young actors, and those seem tedious. “Set” and “Tests” work very well, though.
Welcome to New Penzance goes for four minutes, one second and focuses on the actors. Across these, Bob Balaban narrates as we see shots from the set and learn about Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Wes Anderson. I could live without the bland matter-of-fact tone used for these snippets – which emulates Balaban’s character from the movie – but at least we actually get a smidgen of information here, mostly via material from the locations. The pieces are lackluster but watchable.
Next we get a two-minute, 59-second Set Tour With Bill Murray. He tells us some anecdotes and shows us some locations, though mostly he just makes low-key jokes. These are actually pretty funny; we don’t really learn anything here, but at least the clip’s entertaining.
A new piece, Benjamin Britten’s ‘Noye’s Fludde’ lasts one minute, 53 seconds. It gives us a quick history of Britten’s work and shows photos/footage from various productions – including one that featured a young Wes Anderson. It’s insubstantial but not bad.
Eleven iPhone Videos by Edward Norton offers exactly what it implies. After a two-minute, 32-second intro from Norton, we see 18 minutes, 16 seconds of the actor’s phone-shot footage from the set. Essentially a collection of “home movies”, Norton’s material offers an unusual and enjoyable behind the scenes perspective.
Under Animated Books, we see a four-minute, 14-second collection. Balaban reappears in character and gives us short glimpses of the books Suzy carries with her. Like much of this package, the compilation seems cutesy but it adds some value.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate the two-minute, three-second Cousin Ben. The clip brings us a clever promotional piece.
The package also includes a few paper materials. It provides a card with a cast photo, a map of New Penzance and a booklet with essays from critic Geoffrey O’Brien and some young writers. I like this collection of components.
If you want to see an utterly passive, passionless – but super-quirky and twee – tale about young love, Moonrise Kingdom will be for you. As for me, however, I found it to offer a slow, overly affected and dull experience. The Blu-ray delivers generally good picture and audio as well as an occasionally goofy but often informative collection of supplements.
Criterion creates a nice release, though I don’t think it merits a “double dip” for fans who own the original Blu-ray. The new bonus materials are nice, but the visuals and sound of the Criterion disc don’t appear to improve on the prior Blu-ray.
To rate this film, visit the original review of MOONRISE KINGDOM