At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Wes Anderson just debuted his newest movie, Asteroid City. The acclaimed movie looks to be a typical Anderson project populated with eccentric characters, an all-star cast featuring Tom Hanks and Scarlett Johansson, and whimsical visuals. Asteroid City is sure to please audiences when it’s released later this year, but it will also help fuel the latest trend that’s sweeping the Internet: AI parodies.
With the rapid advancement of ChatGPT and AI-generating software like Midjourney, “regular folk” have taken these tools and applied their own creativity by utilizing the established works of artists such as Wes Anderson. The Anderson AI parodies are fun to look at but they also suggest a terrible trend of co-opting a director’s distinct visual style and making something seem new while really being a fancy rip-off. Nevertheless, we rank all of the Moonrise Kingdom director’s AI “tributes” and parodies, from the truly terrible to the surprisingly good.
Note: All these AI images were generated using Midjourney unless otherwise noted. We also tried to credit the artist who generated these images and distributed them on their social media channels when possible.
7. Wes Anderson’s The Bible
It should be a sin to combine two things that have nothing to do with one another, and Wes Anderson’s The Bible commits an even graver transgression against God and all things holy by being completely boring. Does anyone want to see a Jason Schwartzman-like figure as suave Adam next to Gwyneth Paltrow’s chic, dead-eyed Eve? Or Bill Murray as Moses? And if so, why would you?
Posted on Midjourney’s Reddit page by user KosmonautMikeDexter, Anderson’s The Bible isn’t as clever or inventive as it thinks it is. Jesus appears to be the same version we’ve seen in countless other movies and shows, while radical interpretations, like Owen Wilson’s hipster Noah, just fall flat. Call me a Puritan, but casting Anderson’s stock cast of actors as biblical figures and applying his style to such devastating events as the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah just seems wrong.
6. Wes Anderson’s Game of Thrones
This parody, posted by nadel69 on Midjounrey’s Reddit page, fails simply because it’s not all that different from the original source material. A dour family posing for a portrait like The Tenenbaum clan in The Royal Tenenbaums isn’t too far off from the dour Starks in the later seasons of GoT. Aside from a few dashes of pastels here and there, these AI-generated images aren’t too far off from the real thing and aren’t that funny or imaginative.
5. Wes Anderson’s Harry Potter
The epitome of a lazy mash-up of two properties that should go together well, Panorama Channel‘s Harry Potter by Wes Anderson AI images are severely limited by a lack of creativity or meaning behind the whole endeavor. All the characters you love from the Harry Potter universe, from Harry, Ron, and Hermione to Snape, Dumbledore, and Bellatrix Lestrange, are reimagined as … their exact film counterparts, except wearing the clothes of Wes Anderson characters from The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
The result is a parody that’s not funny and a reimagining without any imagination. The only good thing about it is that it provides solid proof that AI can never truly replace human creativity. AI is just a tool to showcase how much, or in this case, how little, ingenuity the person who wields that tool has.
4. Wes Anderson’s Lord of the Rings/The Whimsical Fellowship
As created by content creator Curious Refuge (who has another Wes Anderson AI trailer on this list), Wes Anderson’s Lord of the Rings or, as Curious Refuge calls it, The Whimsical Fellowship, gets points for being spot-on in terms of knowing its source material. No mere lazy mash-up, The Whimsical Fellowship is successful at imprinting Anderson’s style onto several of Tolkien’s most famous inventions, including believably placing The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s titular pink structure in Middle-earth and the genius casting choice of Willem Dafoe as Gollum. Bonus points for the intro of Timothée Chalamet as Frodo, who is so short, the camera has to tilt down to get him into full view.
Yet combining Wes Anderson with J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous creation doesn’t quite work as either a parody (intentional or unintentional) or a reimagining for me. As the former, The Whimsical Fellowship isn’t exaggerated enough to elicit much laughter or insight into either LotR or Anderson’s oeuvre beyond the usual moving targets (centered visual compositions, montages of seemingly mundane objects, etc.). As a remake, Lord of the Rings is already whimsical on its own, so applying Anderson’s twee aesthetic isn’t enough of a change for The Whimsical Fellowship to truly stand out.
3. Wes Anderson’s 1980s Avengers
You’d think pairing Wes Anderson’s unique indie style with a populist franchise like The Avengers wouldn’t work, but these series of images created by Twitter user digiguru are surprisingly inventive and faithful to their comic book source. It’s actually a good thing they look nothing like their MCU counterparts as that probably would have left more room for error and bizarre likenesses being used on characters that don’t fit them. Can you imagine Bill Murray as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor? On second thought, don’t.
Even though the creator deems these images ’80s Avengers, they are far more faithful to the 1960s incarnation, bringing out the pop sensibility of original artist Jack Kirby. While it may seem ridiculous that Captain America and Ant-Man wear oversized helmets, that’s actually pretty faithful to the Silver Age incarnations. Iron Man’s tech looks period-accurate, and Ant-Man’s bizarre face actually works here to simulate physical human/ant mutation. Yes, the Hulk looks too plastic and immovable, and several faces are horrifically misshapen when they really shouldn’t be, but for what this is, ’80s Avengers is quite successful at utilizing Anderson’s aesthetic and making something charmingly retrograde.
Note: it’s unclear what AI generator the person used to create these images.
2. Wes Anderson’s Avatar/The Peculiar Pandora Expedition
Despite producing two of the highest-grossing movies ever, the Avatar franchise doesn’t really have any distinct visuals or characters that make it stand out from all the other sci-fi worlds out there. That’s why Curious Refuge’s Wes Anderson Avatar parody, The Peculiar Pandora Expedition, works so well.
It’s one of the few parodies that improves the original source material by making the character designs funky and the world of Pandora more alien and interesting to explore. Applying Anderson’s usual cast to this Avatar, however, leaves a lot to be desired. No one really works (does anyone want to see Bill Murray in blue body paint?) except for, you guessed it, Willem Dafoe, who is cast as the movie’s heavy, Colonel Quaritch. The Inside and Spider-Man actor can play anything, it seems, and who am I to argue with that?
1. Wes Anderson’s Star Wars/ The Galactic Menagerie
The best of the bunch, Wes Anderson’s Star Wars, or as the creator Curious Refuge calls it, The Galactic Menagerie, works as a pure parody, meaning it highlights the inherent absurdity of both the elements, the Star Wars franchise and Anderson’s body of work, and gently mocks them. What’s most surprising about this minute-long trailer is how these two seemingly disparate worlds actually fit pretty well together. Luke and Leia’s layered ’70s intergalactic outfits aren’t too far away from Margot Tenenbaum’s wardrobe in The Royal Tenenbaums or Peter Whitman’s Indian garb in The Darjeeling Limited. Even C-3P0 and The Mandalorian look largely the same, with some tweaks here and there that actually make them look a bit better than their inspirations.
What is most striking about this parody is how it reduces all of Star Wars’ fantastical trappings — its huge and lumbering ships, its imposing weapons, its sometimes bloated and overwrought narrative of fathers, sons, and faith — into toy-like objects, making them seem harmless, childlike, and playful. Whimsy is a word that’s often used as an insult, but here, I think it’s accurate as the best word of praise for something like this. It’s harmless fun, and when was the last time you could say that about a Star Wars project?
Note: It’s not clear what process Curious Refuge used, but for more info about how they made their Wes Anderson AI trailers, you can visit their homepage.
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