Everybody's a critic - 'Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'

Friday, January 7, 2005

Three stars (out of four)

An oceanographer with fading star quality sets off on a voyage to film what may be his last epic documentary. This unconventional plot serves as the basis for a curiously delightful film.

The movie is enjoyable but not easily explained or categorized. It's refreshingly unique, marred by only a touch of pretension. Highlights abound, most notably Bill Murray's performance as underwater adventurer Steve Zissou. Murray rounds out a quirky characterization with sufficient depth and gravitas, culminating with remarkably touching moments near the film's end. Zissou's ragtag crew provides fantastic supporting roles for Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe and Cate Blanchett.

Wes Anderson's direction may not sit well with the casual moviegoer since the film's style frequently veers out of pure realism. It's no ordinary comedy. This is certainly one to see for those tired of correctly predicting how everything will turn out in the end.

- Bob Clubbs, drama teacher


Three stars (out of four)

I went to this movie knowing only that Bill Murray was the star. I figured I was in for a few surprises. Fortunately, they were good ones.

First, the film is unusually filled with good actors (Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston and Willem Dafoe, to name a few). Next, the story doesn't fall into any one genre: there are moments of comedy, action and poignant reflection, plus a stylized feel reminiscent of documentaries from decades past. Finally, Bill Murray proves that his Oscar nomination for "Lost in Translation" was no fluke. He gives a performance both bold and nuanced as Steve Zissou, captain of a Cousteau-like team of deep sea explorers.

If you are looking for your typical comedy adventure movie or, especially, a true documentary about underwater creatures, don't go to this movie. However, if you are hoping for an unusual, character-driven story that will continually surprise you, you should go.

- Brooke Clubbs, professor


Three and a half stars (out of four)

This movie is a comical and somewhat dark tale of the adventures of Steve Zissou, an internationally famous oceanographer played by Bill Murray. The film is directed by Wes Anderson, who brought us "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." The comedy is deep and complex and makes this film another sure hit with the cult film crowd.

For fans of Bill Murray, this is a role written just for him. He is funny, sarcastic and slightly depressed throughout the film, maybe this is his Oscar year. In addition, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum increase the star power in this film.

"The Life Aquatic" is one of those movies that is hard to catagorize: you know you liked it and it was a good film, you're just not sure why. While there is some plot, the film is primarily about the life and antics of a documentary oceanographer and his crew. The film is generally grainy and the dialogue random at times. However, this movie is one you will want to see multiple times to get all the nuances that Wes Anderson and Bill Murray bring to the screen.

If you are looking for something off the beaten path, this is a wonderful film.

- Walt Paquin, professor

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