Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 25, 2015 by  


“Moonrise Kingdom” is yet another magnificent Wes Anderson film. Brilliantly written, awkward characters but yet a film so enjoyable, that you don’t mind watching it again and again. “Moonrise Kingdom” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2012 MOONRISE LLC. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776


DURATION: 94 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 Surround, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2015

Directed by Wes Anderson

Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Executive Producer: Sam Hoffman, Mark Roybal

Produced by Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales, Scott Rudin

Co-Producer: Eli Bush, Molly Cooper, Lila Yacoub

Associate Producer: Octavia Peissel

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman

Edited by Andrew Weisblum

Casting by Douglas Aibel

Production Design by Adam Stockhausen

Art Decoration by Gerald Sullivan

Set Decoration by Kris Moran

Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone


Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp

Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward

Bill Murray as Mr. Biship

Frances McDormand as Mrs. Bishop

Tilda Swinton as Social Services

Jared Gilman as Sam

Kara Hayward as Suzy

Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben

Bob Balaban as The Narrator

Lucas Hedges as Redford

Charlie Kilgore as Lazy-Eye

An island off the New England coast, summer of 1965. Two twelve-year-olds, Sam and Suzy, fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As local authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing offshore . . . Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the young couple on the run, Bruce Willis as Island Police Captain Sharp, Edward Norton as Khaki Scout troop leader Scout Master Ward, and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s attorney parents, Walt and Laura Bishop. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban. The magical soundtrack features the music of Benjamin Britten.


In 2012, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” was released in theaters.

The film would go on to receive critical acclaim and also an Academy Award nomination for “Best Original Screenplay” and with a budget of $16 million, the film would earn over $68 million in the box office.

Wes Anderson (best known for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”) co-wrote the film along with Roman Coppola (“The Darjeeling Limited”, “CQ”).

While the film would become the film debut for young actors Jared Gilman (“Two-Bit Waltz”, “Elsa and Fred”) and Kara Hayward (“Quitters”, “The Sisterhood of Night”), “Moonrise Kingdom” would also feature an all-star ensemble cast which included Bruce Willis (“The Sixth Sense”, “Die Hard”, “The Fifth Element”), Edward Norton (“Fight Club”, “American History X”, “The Illusionist”), Bill Murray (“Groundhog Day”, “Lost in Translation”, “Ghostbusters” films), Frances McDormand (“Fargo”, “Almost Famous”, “Mississippi Burning”), Tilda Swinton (“Adaptation.”, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”) and Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore”, “The Darjeeling Limited”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”).

While the Blu-ray was originally released back in 2012 by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, the 2015 Blu-ray release is given the Criterion Collection treatment.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is set on a New England island known as New Penzance and takes places in 1965.

12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky (portrayed by Jared Gilman) who is attending a Khaki Scout summer camp at Camp Ivanhoe decides that he’s not interested in being in the Khaki Scouts any longer and decides to leave the camp without notifying anyone.  With a missing child, this prompts Scoutmaster Randy Ward to contact authorities about the missing boy.

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Suzy Bishop lives in the island with her father Walt (portrayed by Bill Murray) and her mother Laura (portrayed by Frances McDormand) and her three brothers.  Despite coming from a good family, she decides she has had enough of living at home with them and she runs away.

We eventually learn that both Sam and Suzy met each other a year before and both share same qualities of being smart and introverted, but also mature for their age.  And have been pen pals and eventually through occasional correspondence, becoming very close.  The two have made a secret pact to reunite and run away together.  And are determined to make sure no one stands in their way.

Meanwhile, the Khaki Scouts are ordered to capture them, Captain Duffy Sharp (portrayed by Bruce Willis) is trying to look for them and Social Services (led by Tilda Swinton), see Sam as a bad kid and want him to go through “Juvenile Refuge” and receive shock therapy, which Captain Sharp is very much against.

But how long can Sam and Suzy be together without being caught?



“Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks very good in HD, as cinematographer Robert Yeoman gave a special look towards this film (to make it look like it takes place in 1965) and was shot with a Super 16mm film using an Aaton Xtera and A-Minima cameras.    The film is well-saturated, features a good amount of grain and no blemishes whatsoever.  Picture quality is fantastic!

According to the Criterion Collection, the film is “Supervised by director Wes Anderson, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution from the original camera negative”.


As for the lossless audio, “Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776”. The film is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue and music are crystal clear.  The film utilizes ambiance from the children’s surroundings for its surround channels, but the film is primarily dialogue and music-driven.  I heard no hiss or any problematic issues with the lossless soundtrack.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original 5.1 soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original digital audio master files using Pro Tools HD”.

Subtitles are in English SDH.


“Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – A 2015 audio commentary with director Wes Anderson, co-writer Roman Coppola and stars Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Jason Schwartzman.
  • The Making of “Moonrise Kingdom” – Featuring “Exploring the Set”, “Storyboard Animatics and Narrator Tests”, “Auditions” and “Miniatures” (1:39).
  • Welcome to New Penzance – (4:02) A short featurette about the setting of “Moonrise Kingdom”.
  • Set Tour with Bill Murray – (2:59) Featuring Bill Murray discussing his character, working with Wes Anderson and having fun on the set of “Moonrise Kingdom”.
  • Benjamin Britten’s “Noye’s Fludde” – (1:53) Benjamin Britten singing “Noye’s Fludde”.
  • Eleven iPhone Videos by Edward Norton – (20:48) Featuring Edward Norton showcasing 11 home movies during the shooting of “Moonrise Kingdom”.
  • Animated Books – (4:15) Narrator Bob Balaban and an animated version read by the cast of the film.
  • Cousin Ben – (2:03) A featurette with Cousin Ben and the troopers introducing “Moonrise Kingdom”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Moonrise Kingdom.


“Moonrise Kingdom – The Criterion Collection #776” comes with a 24-page booklet with the essay “Awakenings” by Geoffrey O’Brien, “With The Right People in Your Life, You Won’t Feel Misunderstood” by Isobel Folger, “Life Everything in the World is in Order” by Austin Guest, “A Place from from Earth” by Nicolas Schwed, “There was something about Sam…” by Kika Kovaleski, “It’s not Realistic but it Looks Good” by Costa Demy.  Also, included is a double-sided map, a photo card and sheet for Noye’s Fludde.


If there is one recurring thing that a cineaste can depend on Wes Anderson, that is a consistency of enjoyable, well-written, intelligent, yet odd films.

Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” is unique and full of imaginative creativity that one can only marvel of how he and Roman Coppola came up with this storyline about two very smart yet introverted kids, who have run away together and will do whatever they can to thwart those who try to stop them.

The character of Sam is very interesting as he is a knowledgeable Scout, awkward and wears large eyeglasses, while Suzy is a book reader who is bored with home and appreciates Sam as a person, but also how he treats her.

The two have plotted their escape, Sam running away from camp and Suzy escaping her family and Sam provides the camping and survival gear, while Suzy has her books, her kitten and her borrowed portable 45 rpm record player.

And while these two children were fun to watch, because they are both awkward, the film is further boosted by star power as Bill Murray (a Wes Anderson film regular) and Frances McDormand play the parents of Suzy, Edward Norton plays the concerned Scout Master, Bruce Willis plays a cop who has always loved Suzy’s mother, but instead, she has chosen Murray’s character.

We have Tilda Swinton playing Social Services and is determined in wanting to capture Sam and give him shock therapy.

But it’s a lot of fun to see how these two kids are able to stay together, despite everyone wanting to capture them.  But the journey of watching all these characters interact is enjoyable and also a big part of Wes Anderson films.  But because of the odd way things are portrayed, the film plays out like fantasy than reality and for the most part, the film is quite unique and enjoyable.

As for the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, while picture and audio quality continues to be magnificent as the Universal Studios 2012 Blu-ray release, the special features have more content including audio commentary and the home videos by Edward Norton and more.  Also, a pretty enjoyable read with the included booklet (also included is a map).

Overall, “Moonrise Kingdom” is yet another magnificent Wes Anderson film.  Brilliantly written, awkward characters but yet a film so enjoyable, that you don’t mind watching it again and again.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is highly recommended!

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