THE LIFE AQUATIC With Steve Zissou

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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 118 minutes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, trailer, Seu Jorge video performances, This Is An Adventure documentary, featurettes, photo gallery, Interne Video Journal, and more.

STUDIO: BVHE/Touchstone/Criterion

RELEASE DATE: 5-10-2005

ANALYSIS: Love it or hate it, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is a cult film. While I didn't really care for the previous films directed by Wes Anderson, I did fall in love with THE LIFE AQUATIC- a Jacques Cousteau parody. This movie will be greatly appreciated by film geeks. What's not to love about the surreal adventures of Team Zissuo?!

Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe (his take on Klaus is brilliant) steal every scene they appear in. Jeff Goldblum is all up for some good fun as Steve's nemesis, Captain Alastair Hennessey, who may or may not be queer. Then you have the black guy on Team Zissou who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese. Wes Anderson is a true film geek with all the little touches and homages he slips into THE LIFE AQUATIC. Don't let me forget Owen Wilson as the guy who may or may not be Steve Zissou's son and Anjelica Huston as Zissou's estranged wife. Then throw in the mix a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett) who is doing a story on Team Zissou. THE LIFE AQUATIC is full of life from Steve Zissou's quest of revenge to kill a rare shark that ate his friend Esteban to Team Zissou stealing Hennessey's sea lab equipment to dolphins who do very little to the female intern who is topless half of the time to pirates. THE LIFE AQUATIC is a very zany adventure comedy (or action comedy if you listen to Bill Murray). I would have been in geek heaven if they ended the film with a caption saying Team Zissou will return for a sequel (the end credits walk is taken from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai).


Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Colors and blacks are accurately captured while the image detail is fantastic. This transfer is definitely a step above many BVHE releases (because it is a Criterion DVD).


LANGUAGES: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 DTS (special features in English 2.0 and English 1.0)

SUBTITLES: English, French, and Spanish (special features not subtitled)

Dialogue is sharp. The music is the best thing on the audio track.


Disc ONE- I just don't really care for the fact that Wes Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach recorded their audio commentary at some noisy place of business. The commentary covers from the story to the actors to the production and the crew.  Roman Coppola shot second unit and they also talk about the little things that Willem Dafoe would do when inserting himself in the background of scenes.   The deleted scenes are nice and fun (I like the little scene about the dolphins). Also included on disc one are the trailer for THE LIFE AQUATIC and the STRAZ! ON SET featurette.

Disc TWO- Bucket loads of extras fill the second disc to the brim. the Photo Gallery features over 100 photos taken during the filming of THE LIFE AQUATIC and they are very candid at times. THE LOOK AQUATIC covers the production design while AQUATIC LIFE focuses on the slightly exaggerated aquatic creatures made for this film. CREATING A SCENE basically shows that Wes likes to take his time to find a scene of a movie to the point where he likes it. You have these featurettes that look into the people playing the characters (like the ones on Esteban, Ned, and Kate) and what goes on behind the scenes.

THIS IS AN ADVENTURE digs into what happens behind the scenes between takes and when a scene is being shot. It may go at a leisurely pace at time, but it does give insights on how everyone works in a scene and how Wes directs it.    Also it is noted how Bill Murray is unforgettable on set and the people who work on THE LIFE AQUTIC form together like a family.  The INTERN VIDEO JOURNAL was filmed by the actor who played Intern Number One (the cast would play gamaes and tell jokes in between scenes of THE LIFE AQUATIC).  MONDO MONDA is an Italian Talk show where Wes Anderson and another member of the production are interviewed. Monda even has to ask the questions in English after a certain point since the translators aren't getting the questions across. Also featured on disc two are featurettes on DESIGNS, COSTUMES, and the film's composer, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH (who talks about the music in the movie, other Wes Anderson movies, and from Devo to film/tv composer). But one of the favorite extras are the ten David Bowie songs (in Portuguese) as performed by Seu Jorge (fantastic but I do see he like to light up before singing and sometimes swears. Will Seu ever tour with these songs?).

MENUS/PACKAGING: Lovely art for the menus, DVD sleeve (the slipcase is done by someone else), discs, and booklet art by Wes Anderson's brother.

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU easily will be in the top ten list of the best DVDs of 2005. The film is a cult masterpiece with tons of extras on the DVD. Definitely the two disc version (there is also a one disc version) is a must have for fans of this quirky weird tale.

this DVD Review is (c)5-24-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. This review was done without cooperation from Team Zissou. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia