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  1. #1
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Jul 2002

    DVD review The Life Aquatic

    Wes Anderson has a different kind of humor. I find it rather off beat, but mostly in the detail of the movie itself. It is intelligent humor which is my favorite, but it is well suited to this kind of movie.

    Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) is an oceanographer and filmmaker – in a nod to the great Jacques Cousteau down to the red crew hats – whose partner was killed by an unknown species of shark in front of the eyes of Zissou. Zissou swears revenge and names the fish the "Jaguar Shark." Much to the amusement of his colleagues, Zissou scrapes together the last resources and mans an expedition. The mission, to find and kill the Jaguar Shark! Along the way his life is filled with personal problems, such as dealing with his estranged wife (Anjelica Huston), getting to know his new-found could-be grown-up son, falling in love with a pregnant reporter (Cate Blanchett), battling out feuds with his competitor (Jeff Goldblum) or simply being a good captain to his crewman (Willem Dafoe). There’s always something happening, and when there’s not, there are pirates…

    The Video:

    Criterion is presenting a flawless widescreen transfer on this 2-discDVD that is devoid of any flaws or blemishes. An incredible amount of detail can be found in the picture, making for a great and engaging viewing. Colors are vibrant but never over-saturated, creating a world that is sometimes bleak, rich and vivid at others, and always pleasant. Solid black levels root the image firmly, giving it visual depth and rendering perfect shadows with just enough detail. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is without flaws.

    The Sound:

    The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" comes with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital and a DTS audio track. Both of them are equally well produced and perfectly reproduce every nuance of the audio production. Surround usage is good and effective and the good frequency response makes it all the more enjoyable. I found that the Dts soundtrack had a slightly warmer, more coherent sound field, and cleaner more articulate bass than the Dolby track.

    As a stylistic device, the film’s sound track contains a large number of David Bowie tunes from his Ziggy stardust era. The kicker here is that they are almost throughout in Portuguese this time around. Brazilian recording artist Seu Jorge, who plays one of the crew members in the movie, has a knack for these tunes and keeps singing them aboard on every possible occasion with his guitar in his hand. It is a humorous device that Anderson employs throughout the film, making for some great moments and for some nice memories.

    Though I had never heard of this film before, I was intrigued by it during my weekly shopping at BB. Bought it blind and haven't regretted the purchase.
    Sir Terrence

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  2. #2
    JSE is offline
    MIA - Until Rich is back! JSE's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    I just could not get into this movie. Maybe in just over my simple head. I understand what they were trying to do with the film, but I just did not like it. The video and sound were great on my system but the "style" of the movie just drove me nuts. There were some great moments but they were few and far between for me. I did really like the "archaic" animation mixed in with the real life. Kindof a neat touch. I like the guitar player as well. Just way to slow for me.

    I really thought I would like it because I loved the Royal Tenebaums (sp?). Same overall style. I also am a huge Bill M. and Owen W. fan so this film was a real disappointment for me.

    Other than the film style, I completely agree with your review in terms of the video and sound.


  3. #3
    Kam is offline
    filet - o - fish Kam's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    New York, NY
    So far, i've been a big fan of wes anderson as well, with bottle rocket one of my favorite movies along with royal tenenbaums. rushmore i enjoyed, but didnt seem to love as much as everyone else did. it seems i like his odd numbered movies better and it follows with this one as well. i kinda liked Life Aquatic (#4) right up there with rushmore (#2), but still behind both bottlerocket(#1) and RT(#3). nothing wrong with Life Aquatic... just... i guess the magic that i saw in bottlerocket and RT wasn't there for me. although bill murray's line: "Don't point a gun at him, he's an unpaid intern." was quite funny and the names were all outrageous.
    although with the current trend, it probably means i'll love The Fantastic Mr. Fox (#5)


  4. #4
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Jun 2002
    Lower AL
    I have to try this one again. I rented it and was beginning to get into it when I was interupted. By the time I got back to it, it was time to return it.

    I enjoyed Rushmore. I still haven't seen Bottle Rocket but I intend to. I will get around to RTs. I just felt oversaturated with publicity/hype when it came out. I think it's time to watch it - maybe a double feature with The Life Aquatic.

  5. #5
    JSE is offline
    MIA - Until Rich is back! JSE's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    See, that is what really disappointed me about this movie. I also really liked Rushmore and Bottle Rocket in addition to RT. Three strong movies and then this, at least in my opinion. I can also see how people would love this movie as well. Just not me. The humor was too subtle.

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