The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - directed by Wes Anderson


Basically a jab at mid 20th century explorer Jacque Cousteau who made documentaries about what's beneath the ocean's surface. Bill Murray plays the charcter of Steve Zissou, who wants to go on one last expedition to find and kill the beast that ate his friend. Of course many problems arise starting before the ship even sets sail with the arrival of a man who may possibly be a problem for Steve. Also, Cousteau never encountered any of the types of creatures that Zissou comes across. Such as a "Jaguar Shark" or a "Rhinestone Studded Tuna," among others. These were creatures that were developed computer graphically, a first for director/writer Wes Anderson.

      Again, breaking the rules and comparing a film to others of its nature, The LIfe Aquatic just wasn't as engrossing or entertaining as Wes' previous work with "Bottle Rocket" or "Tenenbaums." The great style and feel is there, but the humor is slightly soured. I will say that both of the aforementioned films took me an added viewing or two to truly appreciate, so maybe "The Life Aquatic" will be the same. Anderson's penache for an almost 70's feel to his movies continues in this one, but the entire movie is seemingly split up into a series of vignettes that are stitched together loosely by the overall plot. One minute you're interested, the next, you couldn't care less. It just isn't thrown together well.

     The acting. What can I say? Top-notch actors in less than top-notch roles. Murray delivers most of the laughs, as he always does, in his dry sarcastic way, but they are sprinkled sparsely throughout. Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchet and Angelica Huston's roles are all totally dry in this film too (strange, since the whole story is told on the ocean). The only real performance that I thought was note-worthy was Willem Dafoe's character of Klaus, the German. He was the only one seemed to actually be acting, and he made me laugh..huh huh. I was especially surprised that not one word out of Owen Wilson's mouth struck me as remotely funny. A real difference in him that I sorely missed. Cate Blanchet is usually phenomenal, but again, she was quiet, boring and unnecessarily reserved, especially in the state she was in.
      Still, in the end, it's a well done film stylistically, and caught in the right mood you may indeed really enjoy this film. Murray's face alone is almost worth the price of a rental. I would judge that the average movie-goer is not going to love this one. There are the select few, however, that are going to see some of the genius that was put into the film. I am a hybrid of these two types of people. I do see what is great about it, but it simply isn't enough for me. I need the whole package (especially some deeper character development and personality) to really love it. The visuals are great, there are CGI cartoon-like creatures, dolphins with cameras in the underbelly of a ship, and there is just always something fun to look at...but it is definitely Anderson's poorest effort. I give it a C+.







drewbacca@moviepatron.com