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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Criterion Collection) (2004)

Cast: Bill Murray, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, more...
Director: Wes Anderson, Wes Anderson
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Rating:
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Genre: Comedies, Seafaring, SNL Alums, Criterion Collection
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Synopsis
The first effort from director Wes Anderson since his critically beloved The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou finds the filmmaker re-teaming with a number of familiar faces, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Seymour Cassel. Murray plays Steve Zissou, an eccentric and renowned oceanographer who has decided to seek out and enact mortal revenge on a shark that ate one of the men on his team. Along for the ride is Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a young man who has joined Zissou's crew after showing up claiming to be the seaman's long-lost son and Zissou's co-producer (and estranged wife), Eleanor Angelica Huston. As the expedition ensues, the two bond and Plimpton falls for a female journalist (Cate Blanchett) who is writing a piece on Zissou. The crew meets a host of obstacles on their journey, including pirates, kidnapping, and bankruptcy. Adding a flair of whimsy to the film's aesthetic, the sea creatures and underwater scenes in the film have been created using stop-motion animation under the direction of Henry Selick, the man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. The ensemble cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, and Bud Cort. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

Features:

  • Commentary by Wes Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach
  • Ten deleted scenes
  • "Starz on the Set": behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Criterion Collection) (2004)
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6.78 (389 votes)
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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Criterion Collection) (Bonus Disc) (2004)
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6.60 (48 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

All Wet (but fun for awhile) by talltale May 1, 2005 - 7:15 AM PDT
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11 out of 17 members found this review helpful
Gee, I thought those Criterion people only released "classics." Since maybe six months have passed between its theatrical debut and DVD release, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU might be considered a tad young for that status. Perhaps the Criterion-ites have christened it an "instant classic." Whatever--they've endowed this new disc with their usual, close-to-perfection quality. It's simply gorgeous to look at. Until the boredom sets in.

About half an hour to 40 minutes along, there's a pirate scene. Until that point, Wes Anderson's signature tone (constantly moving between deadpan-comic and real to create a world that is uniquely off-kilter and lots of fun) and his slightly stilted dialog (in the hands of a gifted cast, this takes on a definite "style") combine to good effect. This time out (as opposed to "Bottle Rocket, "Rushmore" and " The Royal Tenenbaums") the writer/director has created a story that appears to offer more plot than usual. Post-pirate scene and the Bill Murray character's "heroic" rescue (is this James Bond-type satire?), it's mostly downhill. Nothing is really at stake; for all the good work from the actors, there are still no real characters; and a two-hour length is at least 30 minutes too long. You'll still chuckle now and then and appreciate the odder moment (most of them are already odd).

Call this a meditation-cum-satire on success, notoriety, love, family, children, and more--it doesn't really matter when there's too little "there" there. (Even the use of the Brazilian singer Seu Jorge to perform the songs of David Bowie is problematic: the songs themselves are wonderful, so is Jorge. Put them together however, and you get a sense of Anderson's "tone." It's unique, all right, but the result is less inspired than the work of either artist on his own.) If anything, "The Life Aquatic" becomes classic by proving pretty conclusively that "tone" can carry a film only so far.

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