The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou comes to DVD with all the class that people have come to expect from all of Wes Anderson's Criterion releases. This time, the movie is being released strictly from the renowned company, with this two-disc release and another single-disc release that's stripped of most of the supplemental material. Anderson's adventure comedy gets its second wind here on DVD and should now have room to flourish not under the critical microscope that plagued its theatrical release, but through a certain acceptance and understanding that comes from repeated viewings and, in this case, a healthy dose of extras that shine a new light on the gifted director's fourth feature. The first disc presents the film with a gorgeous new high-definition transfer that, along with dual Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio mixes, gives life to the brilliant soundtrack and superb cinematography. Also included on disc one is a commentary from Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach. Recorded in a café, where they wrote most of the film, the track gives the viewer a look into the director's relationship with his new collaborator, who seems to respect film just as much as his new buddy, while also displaying a keen knowledge of the director's past works. The talk is a bit dry, though that should be expected. By the end, the two express hope that they didn't come off too pretentious, given the admission that they aren't prone to delve into this kind of critical self-analysis too often, which is a good thing since the track does tend to dip into heavy cinema talk from time to time. Other extras include a batch of ten deleted scenes (highlighted by a classic bit with a scorched Willem Dafoe), as well as the original theatrical trailer and a 15-minute "Starz on the Set" cable special. Disc two delivers on all of the extras that have become synonymous with Criterion releases. Featurettes on the film's look, costume design, music, and stop-motion animation are all represented, with the highlight being a wonderful sit-down interview with composer Mark Mothersbaugh. This extra is interesting not only for the presence of the ex-Devo rocker's sleepy fat dog on his lap throughout the clip, but for the in-depth discussion of how The Life Aquatic followed a natural progression in his collaboration with Anderson. Through dissections of specific tracks, Mothersbaugh manages to give new insight and respect to the film's Casio-tinged score. More good stuff awaits the viewer in the form of a section of the disc dedicated to Seu Jorge's fantastic Portuguese renditions of classic David Bowie tunes, some of which were not included on the soundtrack. The real highlights come not in the additional featurettes on Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, or Seymour Cassel, but in the very different, yet completely satisfying, documentaries included on the disc. "This Is an Adventure" is a 50-minute documentary created specifically for the disc by acclaimed filmmaker Albert Maysles (The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter) and his two fellow documentarians Antonio Ferrera and Matthew Prinzing. Given free reign during the 2003 shoot in Italy, the doc is a rare look into the loving working relationship between Bill Murray and Anderson, who re-team here for their third feature. The other documentary is a fine compliment, with actor and real-life intern Matthew Gray Gubler presenting a fun look behind the scenes with the jocular ensemble cast as they rough the high seas and intense foosball competitions during downtime between setups. With extra galleries and a humorous appearance from Anderson and Baumbach on the Italian interview show Mondo Monda, the Criterion two-disc Special Edition DVD comes to a close, giving film-lovers a befitting tribute to a movie that will continue to grow in time and hopefully secure its own place in the director's esteemed catalogue.