Friday, October 2, 2015

Deep Blue Sea (1999, Movie Review)

       In 1975 a little movie came out called “Jaws”, it was a simple monster movie with a simple premise that revolved around a killer shark that terrorized a local beach. May not sound all that special but though clever writing and a sharp direction, the film went on to become a motion picture classic and one of Hollywood’s most beloved films. Ever sense then, there have been countless movies revolving around killer sharks and most of them are complete garbage. You could call it “Jaws” spoliation, no joke there have been hundreds of silly killer shark movies. Most of these rip-offs were made for TV movies on the Sci-Fi channel, but there were some select shark movies released in the theater, one of which was released in 1999 titled “Deep Blue Sea”, and this film actually holds its own among all the different crappie shark attack films out there. While this obviously wasn’t the first movie to bank on the concept of a killer shark, it was one of the first to do something original and creative that didn’t just revolve around a shark terrorizing a beach. In fact, several of the silly shark movies that followed tried to rip off “Deep Blue Sea” instead of “Jaws”, and it’s become a cult classic among horror movies and killer animal films. To be very honest, I actually like “Deep Blue Sea” more than “Jaws”, that’s not to say it’s better, just more fun to watch.

         The adventure takes place in an underwater lab in the middle of the ocean, where scientists are trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, and do to a sharks strange anatomy and immunity for disease, there used as test subjects. The scientist’s are successful in developing a cure but their victory comes with a price. The Mako sharks experimented on have doubled in both strength and intelligence, and their not to happy being confined in this ocean prison, they want to escape and get back out to sea to become the ultimate predators. When a hurricane strikes the lab, the sharks take advantage of it and attack with full force. Soon the station is flooded, and the chase is on as the scientist try to escape the sinking lab while the sharks try to escape and make meals of the survivors along the way. Think of it as “Jaws” meets “The Poseidon Adventure”, it’s about as silly and as awesome as it sounds.

       The characters are your typical monster movie survivors, but their surprisingly memorable in their own way. For example, I love this one black cook that everyone refers to as “Preacher” played by LL Cool J.
This guy is made of awesome, he’s the life of the party, has some funny scenes and all the best one liners that people still quote to this day. His most bad ass line comes when he blows up a shark that ate his pet bird. The lead hero is called Carter and he’s serviceable at best. The attractive female lead played by Saffron Burrows is the one responsible for all the problems that happen, but she thankfully doesn’t become either a clichéd villain or a clichéd love interest and has an especially bad ass scene in which she electrocutes one of the sharks.

      Oh, and we can’t forget about Samuel L Jackson who plays a rich suit that came to inspect everything. Forget about “Snakes on a Plane”, this is the best animal attack movie Samuel L Jackson ever stared in and it features one of his most classic scenes. When our hero’s are trapped, Samuel L Jackson delivers a motivating and inspiring speech about survival and working together. Right when he’s at the height of his monologue, a shark pops up from behind him and eats him whole. It’s so shocking, funny and awesome that it’s become one of the most classic death scenes in horror movie history and the best part of the whole film.  

        The setting of an underwater lab is perfect for a film like this and offers lots of exciting cinereous for the sharks to attack. One of the most memorable scenes is when the Preacher’s kitchen gets flooded, which leads into an exciting cat and mouse game between him and one of the Mako’s. It’s so crazy, he ends up getting trapped in an oven where’s he’s almost cooked to death. There’s a scene in which some ditsy teenagers get attacked on a boat, which is the only action segment outside of the complex. Surprisingly none of them get killed and there thankfully aren’t any more stupid teenage characters in the film after that. The passing in the movie is great, giving you just enough excitement and breathing time in-between all the attacks.  

         The only thing that takes me out of the experience are the Sharks themselves. I like the concept of the genetically enhanced, supper smart shark, but the effects themselves are hit and miss. Sometimes it’s an animatronic shark head, and those shots look great, even scary at times. Then there are other moments in which the sharks are completely CG and they look like total garbage. Actually most of the CGI in the film looks really bad, but the sets and practical effects at least loot state of the art. Killer sharks in general have never looked perfect on film, even in “Jaws” it looked fake, but it’s almost like a style and you either accept them for how they look or not. While the sharks in this film do look bad, they certainly don’t spoil the movies fun factor, and it’s still exciting when their on screen.

        The Climax of the movie is like something from out of the 1995 Kevin Costner movie “Waterworld”. Our survivors make it to the surface of the lab where the last surviving shark is trying to make its escape into the ocean. So the team split up and take action against the beast, there’s running around on rubble, lots of destruction, characters shooting sharp objects and lots of bloody explosions. The setting is perfect and there’s some nice twists to common monster movie clichés. Usually in a situation like this, the lead male and lead female are the only two survivors while everyone else dies. But in this movie the lead girl actually makes a noble sacrifice move that helps our hero’s and the black guy who was a small supporting character actually lives along with the lead hero. That’s awesome, more horror movies need to do this.

         Overall, you can call “Deep Blue Sea” another stupid killer shark movie that tries to bank on the success of “Jaws”, which it admittedly is, but it’s very self aware, exciting and memorable in its own right, I’d go so far as to say it stands out as a B movie classic. There were never any sequels but the lineup of silly killer shark movies only ignited with this film’s success. In 2011 there was another theatrical killer shark movie called “Shark Night”, and that’s what you call a truly awful film, with stupid characters, no excitement and no originality. It was the real “pore mans” version of “Jaws”, where as “Deep Blue Sea” was at least creative in its setting, it’s premise and did something unique and fun with the tired killer shark concept. In my first review this month of the 1963 film “The Birds”, I stated that it was the greatest killer animal movie ever made, even better then “Jaws”. While I still stand by that statement, “Deep Blue Sea” is my personal favorite killer animal movie of all time and the one that I enjoy watching the most. The action is great, the characters are memorable, the setting is original and it’s entertaining as hell, but only if you’re in the right mind set for a B monster movie. 

                  I give “Deep Blue Sea” 4 stars out of five, at least by monster movie standards.         

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