directed by Wes Anderson
U.S.A. 19
96

Expanded from a 13 minute short subject film, "Bottle Rocket" is not  factually based, but it does reflect many experiences that occurred to director/writer Wes Anderson and actor/writer Owen C. Wilson when they were roommates at The University of Texas.

The story, shot in Dallas, Fort Worth and Hillsboro, involves three young, socially gullible friends, who, with loyal bonds and unequivocal acceptance, display an innocent, influential nature towards each other. Unstructured, they are each attempting to ascertain their appropriate place in society and are comically drawn to the romanticism and clandestine world of crime through their irrepressible leader's fantasy vision.

"We always wanted to name it after fireworks and Bottle Rocket seemed appropriate," said Anderson in an interview. "Bottle rockets are these dinky, cheap fireworks that explode but are illegal because they're so hard to control and are so poorly made. They are the kind of thing that could catch a garage on fire but a neighbor with a garden hose could put it out."

Bottle Rocket

by Wes Anderson

Review of the film by Gary W. Tooze

It starts with Anthony (Luke Wilson) who has discharged himself from a mental hospital where he voluntarily entered to be treated for "exhaustion". We see the first structure of the nature of his friendship with the pseudo-mastermind Dignan, alias Jerry (played by Owen Wilson) as he spoon feeds the fantasies of his friend by pretending to escape the institution by climbing down a knotted bed sheet from the 2nd story window.

For myself, probably the funniest commentary of the film is to the extent how people are constantly fooling themselves, visualizing circumstances extremely different from what they really are... all to help feed there own illusions. The friendships are so strong that regardless of the truth, these pretenses are backed up by each of them.

All three Wilson brothers play characters in the film, and extremely well; Owen Wilson as master optimist and dreamer Dignan, and his real-life brother Luke Wilson as Anthony, and Andrew Wilson, who plays "Future Man", their friend Bob's bullying older brother .

 [pointing to Bob] He's out. [pointing to Anthony] And you're out, too. And I don't think I'm in, either. No gang! [walking away shaking his head]
 

"Bob's Gone !!!.. and he stole his car"
"Dynamite, Pole Vaulting, Laughing Gas, Choppers, Hang Gilding"

 

 

In the end its plain to see that each character has received exactly what they had been seeking throughout the film. Anthony finds true love with a Paraguayan maid named Inez. Bob has started a more brotherly relationship with his tough sibling and Dignan is behind bars... content to feel he is respected as a full-fledged criminal now.

The film is strongly character driven with subtle writing and hilarious vignettes sparking the careers of both director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) and actor Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon, Meet The Parents).

Bottle Rocket is very enjoyable, even more-so on repeat viewings. The innocence of both its characters and its initial production shine through making it a memorable hit. out of

 

Posters

Theatrical Release Date: February 25th, 1996

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DVD Comparison:

Sony -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc Special Edition) -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC  MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC  Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Spine # 450 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Blu-ray) Spine # 450 - Region 'A'
Runtime 1:31:15   1:31:30   1:31:43.706  
Video

1.85:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio

Bit-rate: 5.91 bps
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio

Bit-rate: 8.98 bps
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 47,472,543,911 bytes

Feature Size: 26,195,122,176 bytes

Average Bitrate: 38.08 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray AVC

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3927 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3927 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, None English, None
 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bit-rate: Sony

 

Bit-rate: Criterion DVD

 

Bit-rate:

Blu-ray

Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony
Pictures

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• CPan and Scan 1.33:1 version on opposite side

DVD Release Date:  December 22nd, 1998
Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
DVD Production:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Edition Details:
Audio commentary featuring Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson

Disc 2
The Making of "Bottle Rocket": an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, producer James L. Brooks, actors James Caan and Luke and Owen Wilson, and others
The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
Eleven deleted scenes
Anamorphic test, storyboards, location photos
Behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket
Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
PLUS: A booklet featuring an appreciation by Martin Scorsese and an essay by Brooks
Original artwork by Ian Dingman

 

DVD Release Date:  November 25th, 2008
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
DVD Production:
Criterion

 

Disc Size: 47,472,543,911 bytes

Feature Size: 26,195,122,176 bytes

Average Bitrate: 38.08 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray AVC

Edition Details:
Audio commentary featuring Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson
The Making of "Bottle Rocket": an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, producer James L. Brooks, actors James Caan and Luke and Owen Wilson, and others in
HD
The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
in HD
Eleven deleted scenes
Anamorphic test, storyboards, location photos
Behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket
in HD
Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
in HD
PLUS: A booklet featuring an appreciation by Martin Scorsese and an essay by Brooks
Original artwork by Ian Dingman

 

Blu-ray  Release Date:  December 16th, 2008
Custom cardboard slipcase (with booklet)  
Chapters: 16

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray - December 08': Utilizing the same high definition master as the standard DVD from a couple of weeks back, we have essentially the same color palette with better resolution. Technically over 4 times the bitrate. This is a dual-layered Blu-ray with the feature taking up approximately 26Gig of space transferred with the AVC encode. Detail shows a demonstrative improvement. Colors, especially reds, seem far more true. It looks quite impressive. 

 

We have a DTS-HD master track that brings much of the film's score and delightful music to life with selections from Oliver Onions, The Proclaimers and The Rolling Stones. It's not an aggressive track and the mix reflects that but it has a few moments and some subtleties to.  This Blu-ray offers only English subtitles as an option.

 

Extras are duplicated from the recent DVD (see full description below) and thankfully housed all on one disc with many in HD (including The Making of ...,the original thirteen-minute black-and-white short film, The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket and the Murita Cycles). I actually finished the amusing commentary and it enhanced by strong enjoyment of the film. We also get the liner notes booklet.

 

Once again Criterion's packaging is fairly basic - a more environmentally friendly cardboard slipcase.  I've been enamored with this film for years and it looks and sounds better than ever - personally, a very easy sale. It has a strong recommendation from DVDBeaver.

Gary W. Tooze 

****

 

 

ON THE SD-DVDs: The dual-layered Criterion image easily bests the single-layered Sony (originally Columbia Tri-Star) which has many artifacts and digital noise. The Criterion colors are sometimes quite different and detail is dramatically improved. Both transfers are anamorphic and progressive but Criterion are able to advertise that theirs is 'Supervised and approved by director Wes Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman.' The Criterion is brighter and shows more information in the frame - especially the left edge. We wait with great anticipation to the eventual Criterion Blu-ray (at the same cost - due out on December 16th, 2008) but for those who have not taken the HD-step this SD transfer won't disappoint.

NOTE: The older Sony edition has a cropped 1.33:1 version on the opposite side of the disc.

Although advertised as 'DTS' on the Criterion website I believe they are referring to the Blu-ray which will be a DTS-HD Master track. Still the 5.1 sounds sharp and accompanies the excellent image adeptly. The Criterion offers English (and surprisingly yellow) subtitles - more complete than the decade-old Sonys' (see samples below). 

Extras on the Criterion are fabulous - we get an audio commentary featuring Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson - recorded for Criterion in 2008. I haven't had a chance to get through all of it but am loving it so far - anecdotes and memories - delightful. On a second disc (also dual-layered) we get a 25 minute The Making of "Bottle Rocket". This is an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, producer James L. Brooks, actors James Caan and Luke and Owen Wilson, and others. I was very keen to see the original thirteen-minute black-and-white treatise Bottle Rocket short film from 1992 - a great inclusion! There are eleven deleted scenes - each about 1.5-2 minutes long last 27 minutes in total. Amusing stuff but, for the most part, their exclusion was the right choice in my opinion. It was cool to see the anamorphic test with the 2.35 Panavision widescreen (originally intended for the film). There are some storyboards and behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson (Owen's Mom). It doesn't end there - we have 10 minutes of The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket (kinda strange) Murita Cycles, a 1978 27-minute film by Braverman - noted as a friend and collaborator of Wes Anderson. Finally a 24-page liner notes booklet featuring an appreciation by Martin Scorsese and an essay by Brooks and some original artwork by Ian Dingman. Great stuff for the die-hard, or novice, fans...

I really enjoy this film and have seen it at least 6 times - this Criterion DVD is a breath of fresh air and the extras are like food to a starving man. Although I can't wait to add the Blu-ray to this comparison I am thrilled with this SD. Strongly recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Screen Captures

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3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


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2) Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC  MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC  MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 



1) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC  MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

NOTE Damage on Sony - Caan's chin

 


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DVD Box Cover

Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC  Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Spine # 450 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Blu-ray) Spine # 450 - Region 'A'

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