Blu-ray Review “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (The Criterion Collection)”

Actors: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe
Directors: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 118 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is a rather strange film. But at the same time it is also a quite outstanding film. I think this can really be said for all of Wes Anderson’s films. They are all on another level of filmmaking. Some people get it and some do not but they are all brilliant. Criterion has been a big proprietor of Anderson’s films on Blu-ray. I recently had a chance to check out “Fantastic Mr. Fox” on Criterion Collection and was just blown away. Now just a few months later, we are getting “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and this is guaranteed to make fans of the film very happy. Criterion never disappoints and delivers a flawless technical presentation and a ridiculous amount of special features. I am sure that a Criterion release of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not to far behind either.

Official Premise: Internationally famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew-Team Zissou-set sail on an expedition to hunt down the mysterious, elusive, possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou’s partner during the documentary filming of their latest adventure. They are joined on their voyage by a young airline copilot (Owen Wilson); a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett); and Zissou’s estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston). Wes Anderson (Rushmore) has assembled an all-star cast that also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Seu Jorge, and Bud Cort for this wildly original adventure comedy.

When it comes to Criterion, you can always expect the best audio/video presentation. In fact, I am just going to quote what the leaflet inside the case says about this amazing Blu-ray release: “Supervised by director Wes Anderson, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Sony Colorworks in Culver City, California. Thousands of instances of dirt and debris were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was for small dirt, warps, and jitter. The original 5.1 soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from the original magnetic track using Pro Tools HD.” The transfer is absolutely flawless, especially the underwater footage. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is just perfect. This is the best release to date for this amazing film.

This release comes with some oustanding special features. Kicking off, there is an audio commentary with director Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach, which was recorded exclusively for Criterion in New York City in February 2005. There is a “Making of” featurette with raw footage from the production with coments from Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and director of photography of Robert D. Yeoman, amongst others. There is focus on the “Designs” and “Photos” with a collection of drawings, sketches, and photographs. “Intern Video Journal” is a behind the scenes documentary shot and edited by Matthew Gray Gubler. “Seu Jorge Performs David Bowie” includes ten performances of David Bowie songs in Portuguese by Brazilian recording artist and actor Seu Jorge.

Mark Mothersbaugh, composer and Devo member discusses the amazing soundtrack for the film, which was conducted for Criterion in 2004. There are seven sets of cast and crew interviews including Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson and many more. “Mondo Monda” is a Italian talk show hosted by Antonio Monda who interviews Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach. “This is an Adventure” is a documentary from Albert Maysles, Antonio Ferrera, and Matthew Prinzing that was shot during the shooting of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in Italy in 2003. Lastly, there is a the original theatrical trailer and nine deleted scenes included.


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