Criterion ports over the supplements from their 2-disc special edition, starting with an audio commentary by Wes Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach. This is an odd commentary track in the fact that it was recorded in a bar/restaurant (the one they wrote the film in) during business hours so there is all sorts of background noise. It's an interesting idea, but I don't think it was too necessary as I sometimes got distracted by what was going on in the background.
I feel somewhat mixed about Andersonís commentary tracks: I never truly dislike them but I canít say Iím a big fan of them at the same time. I find them more enjoyable when heís with someone else, preferably Owen Wilson. Here heís with Baumbach, who does make a decent enough partner, as the two talk about the development of the script, the thought process on incorporating music, their many influences, and working with the cast and crew, with Anderson focusing on a lot of little details. A few anecdotes are shared, and in the end the track comes off enjoyable and informative. Interestingly the commentary still *bleeps* out any mention of Jacques Cousteauís name. Iím not sure if this was requested, or maybe it is related to some fear of Disneyís, but it seems especially bizarre considering the film makes no attempt to hide Cousteau as a reference, with Cousteau even receiving a credit of sorts at the end of the film.
The remaining features are presented under the ďSupplementsĒ section, starting with This is An Adventure, a decent, 51-minute documentary from veteran documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, as well as Antonio Ferrera and Matthew Prinzing. It hangs back, simply capturing the action, with some focus on certain sequences, as well as the development of the look. There is some footage of shooting in the water tanks (including Murrayís screaming of ďEsteban!Ē over and over.) Itís a decent documentary, offering a decent inside look into the film.
Moving on we also get 10 deleted scenes running about 4 and a half minutes. These are worth checking out as most of them are fairly amusing, especially an extended leech bit which has the best deadpan delivery (not) in the movie, and an extra second after the hotel blows up gives a decent chuckle. Thereís also a couple moments that were in the ads but were missing from the finished film, and Iím not sure if the final bit is supposed to be a goof or was the intended shot. Unlike the DVD, though, these do fill out the widescreen television. Also odd some are presented in actual high-definition (at 24hz even) while the others look to be interlaced upscales.
Mondo Monda is a joke, like the interview on the Tenenbaums DVD. I think Anderson likes doing these after doing the Charlie Rose interview seen on the Rushmore DVD, which was real and sort of funny in itself. This one has the same sort of dry humour one would expect from Wes, as Antonio Monda interviews Anderson and co-writer Baumbach, and asks him some ridiculous questions about the film, how it will change the world, searches for ďmetaphorsĒ and so on and so forth. There are some actual decent comments on the collaboration between the two, but the commentary covers this stuff better. As it is it is fairly amusing and worth a view. It runs a little over 16-minutes.
A series of interviews with members of the cast and crew follow, starting with Jane, which is a conversation with Cate Blanchett. She focuses on working with Wes and having to go through the process of getting a fake pregnant-belly prosthetic only to find out she was actually pregnant at the time. It's actually a good interview but it's pretty short and some of the stuff (like with other interviews here) shows up in the featurette that appears here in the supplements.
Ned focusses on Owen Wilson. He actually doesn't participate much on this release, which is disappointing, and even this segment only lasts less than 3-minutes, and only half of it is interviewing Wilson. The rest is Blanchett and Murray talking about him. This feature isnít a must and does sort of feel like a fluff piece.
Costumes looks at the costumes and Anderson's attention to detail. It has interviews members of the cast and their opinions on the costumes. You also get a nice chunk of it with Bud Cort talking about how his costume looked like diarrhea. This runs over 4-minutes.
"Aquatic Life" is an excellent 7 minute featurette on the sea life created for the film, featuring interviews with Henry Selik and some of the other members of the effects and design crew. It looks at most of stop-motion puppets and shows how they work, including the blowfish and the Jaguar Shark of course. For a short featurette it manages to pack in quite a bit. I wish it was longer, as I find this the most fascinating thing about the film, especially now that Anderson went on to direct the stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Look Aquaticm is a short little feature (about 7 minutes) on the production design and overall look of the film. Its main focus is the recreation of the Belafonte used for a couple scenes in the film. I found it fairly interesting, though maybe too brief.
Creating a Scene lasts about 4 minutes and takes a look at the party scene at the beginning where Murray and Goldblum's characters meet for the first time. You also get to see Goldblum give some input in a way only Goldblum could.
Esteban is a wonderful interview segment with Seymour Cassel. He travels around looking for a cigar shop. When they finally come across one and enter he takes a moment to go over some of the cigars he is fond of. The owner even starts talking to him about John Cassavetes and his work with him, and Seymour fondly recalls the man and his work. It then continues on showing Anderson direct Cassel in his underwater sequences. One of my favourite supplements on this release. Running 7-minutes itís another that I wish was longer.
Mark Mothersbaugh pops up next to talk about his score and his work in Andersonís other films. He talks about working in the industry, moving from a band to composer and his relationship with Anderson as well. He even points out a neat trick to how he used a bit from Tenenbaums for a piece in Aquatic. This segment mixes in clips from the film and Andersonís other films, as well as some ?behind-the-scenes stuff and still shots. It lasts about 20-minutes. I assume this might be the only piece exclusively shot by Criterion (though the making-of was apparently produced by Criterion.)
Next up you'll find Seu Jorge Performs David Bowie, a collection of ten performances running about 40 minutes in total, where Jorge performs Bowie's songs in Portuguese. This includes performances like "Rebel, Rebel", "Ziggy Stardust", "Starman", "Changes" and the other ones in the films, except for "Queen Bitch", which is played in whole during the closing credits anyways. Some of them are actually quite good, while others are "meh." Your reaction to this depends on your reaction to this addition in the film.
Another nice little feature is "Intern Video Journal", which runs about 15 minutes and is nice light and fun, catching the atmosphere of the work environment. It's filmed by Intern #1, Matthew Gray Gubler (who was actually an intern) and he goes around getting little bits with some of his co-stars (Gambon amusingly gives him a rough time) and some of the goofs and pranks being played. The best bit is probably when the cast is in the submarine chatting it up as they wait for filming to begin, and hoping the set doesn't catch fire. Nicely put together and worth a look.
A selection of Photos are next, which is a basic gallery of photos. There's a lot of behind the scene shots, publicity photos and some nice scenery shots, and quite a few of Anderson either directing or ďcontemplatingĒ I guess. You navigate using the left/right arrows on your remote.
Designs is another still gallery, though very short, looking at various concepts and drawings (some by Eric Chase Anderson) for the film. I usually always like the artwork and designs in Andersonís films so I always enjoy when we get galleries of the artwork, also found on the other Criterion releases for Andersonís films.
Thereís a fluff Making-of-Featurette "Starz on Set" piece, which takes a look at the making of The Life Aquatic, giving interviews with various members of the cast, director Anderson and animator Henry Selik. Itís promotional material obviously, feeling like everyone is trying to sell the movie, but you can find some good comments from Murray, Wilson, Dafoe, and Anderson. It lasts only 15 minutes, but it can easily be skipped.
The disc then closes with the filmís theatrical trailer. The insert includes an interview between Criterion, Anderson, and his brother, Eric Chase Anderson. The two go over the artwork that appears in the film and Andersonís others up to that point. Oddly there is no critical essay of any sort.
Sadly Criterion had originally announced new interviews with Murray, Dafoe, and Goldblum, but they have been dropped. Iím assuming they were filmed around the time that The Grand Budapest Hotel was either being filmed or toured. I would have loved some sort of retrospective feature with the cast and/or crew but for some reason this was decided against. Iím hoping these interviews make it onto the inevitable (Iím sure) Criterion release of Hotel.
The supplements are still fairly good, though overall not up to Criterionís best work. Itís mostly making-of materiel, which is interesting, but I would have again loved some new material with the cast and crew, or possibly maybe even an analytical feature of some sort (other maybe Matt Zoller Seitzís excellent visual essay on Criterionís release of The Darjeeling Limited I canít think of any scholarly material on Anderson's other releases, other than the gag ones.) A bit of a missed opportunity. 7/10