Thursday, January 18, 2007

Movie Mini Review: Life Aquatic

I'm going to try to start a little series of movie reviews. Why? Well there are some movies I like and some I don't like, and what the heck, maybe by reader will get something out if it. If nothing else, we can start a discussion about how off base I am with my assessments.

So here's the first installment.

Title: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum

Plot summary:

While making a documentary, the famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Murray) loses his dear friend, eaten by a mythical jaguar shark. He raises funds for an expedition in his ship, the Belafonte, to hunt the shark and make a new film. The journalist Jane Winslett-Richardson (Blanchett) and a pilot that claims to be his unknown son, Ned Plimpton (Wilson), join his crew in their journey, planned by his wife Eleanor Zissou (Huston). While making the movie, they are attacked by pirates and left without any money to finish their work. (credit to Claudio Carvalho)

My thoughts:
I remember being keen to see this movie when it was released in theaters back in '04. I didn't get to see it at the time (we don't get out much, what can I say), but the film didn't seem to do that well commercially.

Too bad, because it's a great movie. Although I can see how it would be difficult to market. It doesn't fit neatly into the genres that movie marketers seem to rely on.

It's not really a comedy, although it has some hilariously funny lines as you would expect from a movie staring Bill Murray. I found myself laughing out loud many times.

It's not a drama either, though there are some dramatic moments, like Owen Wilson's poignant death scene.

And this movie certainly didn't have a big special effects budget. On the contrary, the effects seemed to be deliberately low-tech, as if the director Wes Anderson were trying to make the underwater scenes kitschy in an attempt to poke fun at those high-dollar, CGI-enhanced blockbusters.

In the end, this movie is a great example of how you don't need formulas or special effects or billion-dollar budgets to make a great film. You just need a great story, excellent writing and solid directing and acting.

Unfortunately in Hollywood, those things are rarer than money.

Favorite quote:
"Son of a bitch, I'm sick of these dolphins."

tagged: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I'm with you, Emaw. The disconnect between the awful reviews the movie received and my deep appreciation of it when I finally saw it on cable was enormous. I don't think you mentioned the best part, though- Seu Jorge's David Bowie covers. Like this:

  2. You're absolutely right, HIB. The Bowie-in-Portuguese soundtrack was terrific (and I think I caught a little Devo sprinkled in there too). Thanks for the link.

  3. I have to admit, though I am an avid fan of Mr. Anderson, it took me three times seeing this one to see just what he was going for .. Once I finally got it, it's one of my favorites from him, and you're right, the Portugeuse Bowie songs are just priceless

  4. I remember seeing the trailer for this and wasn't hooked enough to see it. I'll have to rent it if for no other reason than I've always had "thing" for Angelica Huston.



Your turn to riff...