Monday, June 20, 2016


What do you get when you cross JAWS (1975) with THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)? The answer is DEEP BLUE SEA (1999) a B movie science fiction action adventure film directed by genre maestro Renny Harlin (DIE HARD 2 (1990), CLIFFHANGER (1993), CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995), THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (1996)). I watched this one for the second time the other day. It's not a great film by any means but it made for an enjoyable way to kill some time on a hot summer afternoon with a bag of popcorn and a big glass of peach tea.

Scientists at the remote research station, a re-purposed submarine refueling facility dubbed Aquatica, are experimenting with sharks. They hope to genetically increase the size of the shark brain and then extract a protein found within. Said protein is supposed to be a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Oddly enough, this plot device was also used in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011), except in that film it was an experimental Alzheimer's drug used on apes which in turn boosted their mental capacities.

But when a giant shark escapes and attacks four teenagers on a boat, trouble starts brewing. The company that owns the project wants to shut it down but CEO Russell Franklin (Samuel L Jackson), agrees to a 48 hour extension provided he can fly to the base and see what all of his company's money has bought.

As Franklin arrives, the majority of the crew leaves the station leaving only a skeleton crew on hand. Franklin is given a tour of the base by Janice Higgins (Jacqueline McKenzie). She provides a walking, talking info dump for both Franklin and the audience. Then things start to go bad when a hurricane zeroes in on Aquatica. A scientist, Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard), loses an arm to a supposedly tranquilized shark and when an airlift is attempted to remove him from the base, the helicopter crashes into the above water part of the facility and things blow up real good.

There are now only six people left on the station, the majority of them on the lowest underwater level where the laboratory is. They must ascend through the rapidly sinking structure battling flooding, freezing water, more explosions and really big, really fast, really smart sharks.

Only two characters remain alive at the climax of the film which features an exploding shark a la JAWS. DEEP BLUE SEA was produced at a time when CGI was still relatively new. The sharks in the film are a combination of real animals, animatronic mock ups and computer generated images, some of which work, while others look like outtakes from an episode of JABBERJAWS. The screenplay by committee (Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, and Wayne Powers), is formulaic, generic and cliched. The biggest names in the cast are Jackson and LL Cool J. Thomas Jane would later play Frank Castle, The Punisher in the 2004 film of the same name while Stellan Skarsgard would go on to appear in THOR (2011), THE AVENGERS (2012), THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Harlin keeps things moving well enough but there's nothing remotely fresh, surprising or original about any of this nonsense.

For all of that, it's still fun to watch. It's no JAWS but it's better than any of the SHARKNADO films.

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