Deep Blue Sea

08/22/2019 06:21

Film: Deep Blue Sea

Year: 1999

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers and Wayne Powers

Starring: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows and Samuel L. Jackson



This was a film that I remember seeing when it first hit the movie channels. I used to watch it all of the time and to be honest, most of my non-horror friends dig it as well. It definitely is a popcorn flick where you can just turn it on at any time and just enjoy it from there. This is the first time that I had seen it in quite awhile though, so I was curious as to how well it would hold up. The synopsis is searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease; a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the prey as trio of intelligent sharks fight back.

We start this off with two couples partying on a boat. Something attacks them and we see it is a shark. As it goes to bite one of the members who fell into the water, it is shot with a harpoon. The person who shoots it is Carter Blake (Thomas Jane). He has to shoot it again after that.

It then shifts to a fancy office where Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is talking to Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson). He is one funding her research and we see that the headline is about a shark they were testing on got free. He informs her that they’re going to be cutting the funding and she convinces him to come to the facility. She will show results over the weekend that will make up for the blunder and their stock prices will skyrocket.

He agrees and in the helicopter to the remote facility, we learn that he survived an avalanche on the Alps. They arrive and he’s introduced to a marine biologist, Janice Higgins (Jacqueline McKenzie). She shows him around and I think this is an interesting way to introduce us to the place as well, as he’s never been there and wants to be treated like a tourist. Russell meets with Carter briefly and soon learns that he’s not very talkative. We also meet Tom Scoggins (Michael Rapaport) who is running most of the computer equipment, Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgård) whose a doctor helping Dr. McAlester as well as Preacher (LL Cool J) who is the cook.

The goal is to show the experiments they are conducting on three of the sharks will cure degenerative brain diseases. It does work, but there is something that Dr. McAlester and Jim aren’t sharing. Things take a turn when a strong tropical storm hits and Jim is bit. A helicopter comes to help crashes into the facility and the sharks run amuck. Russell wants to know how smart they are and learns a terrible truth about them. They wonder what the sharks are up to, but more important, they survivors are trying to make it to the surface before the facility floods and rests on the bottom of the ocean.

I’m glad to kick off my analysis of the film stating that this one is still fun. I’m glad it’s still enjoyable as an adult. I’m not saying that it’s great, but it does hold up as a fun shark film. It actually has some really good writing though I noticed as well. There are a lot of things that are referenced at different points in the film that come back up later. I’m a sucker for this so I’m on-board.

There is also some heart to this film. Dr. McAlester has a noble endeavor for the things that she does. There is a bit of unethical aspect to this that comes up later in the movie, but she is doing all of this because her father had Alzheimer’s. It was difficult to work with him and she wants to prevent anyone else from going through that. I also really like the back-story to Russell, as it makes sense why he tries to inspire them like he does and that he has the will to survive as well.

Creature features are a genre that I can get down with now and then as well. It is hard to make a shark movie, because Jaws was the first and probably still the best. This film though does do something different though. They are modified and are smarter, so they’re able to do things that normal ones can’t. I do find it odd they can swim backwards, as I know that is supposed to kill them. The movie even references it. That really isn’t addressed here as to why they can, but I will let it slide.

This film definitely is paced well as it really is one of those each event leads to the next one, so it really is a ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ type film. Because of that, it never gets boring to me. It also has a good running time, which definitely helps here as well. I think that the deaths we get are spaced out, so that really does help. The ending is something we don’t see a lot of as well, which also works for me.

The acting is something else that really helps the film as well. I feel that Jane some times gets a bad rap. I think here he is fine, he’s just very quiet. That really is the character though, as he is a ‘shark wrangler’ and I get the vibe he’s more comfortable being in the water with them like we see. He also has a criminal record so that plays in as well. Burrows I thought really had a bigger role, but she really doesn’t. She comes off villainous in some of the reveals we get actually, but she is doing in for the greater good type thing. Jackson is solid and his demise is legendary now as it’s been parodied since this film. It is fun to see Rapaport, LL Cool J and Skarsgård in their roles. I’d say they and the rest of the cast round out the film for what is needed.

That moves me next to the effects, which was something I really worried about. To start with the positive, the animatronics shark, the blood and the practical effects are all solid. The real problem here is that the CGI really doesn’t hold up for me. I get that these sharks are doing things that they couldn’t get real ones to do and it would be impossible to do practical. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but I just couldn’t really tell. The film though is shot fine and I really like the underwater sequences we get.

The last thing to cover is the soundtrack. For the most part it does fit the scenes and helps to build tension. It doesn’t really stand out. The real reason I’m covering it here in this paragraph is that LL Cool J was actually the music supervisor and actually has two songs on the soundtrack. They’re both pretty funny and I give him credit for it.

Now with that said, this film isn’t great so don’t come in expecting a film that would rival Jaws as the best shark film of all time, but it is a lot of fun. It is one that you could definitely put on and have fun or watch with friends for sure. There is some really good writing with referencing things that come back up later and there is actually some heart with what they’re doing. The idea of playing God is quite intriguing here. It is paced where it never gets bored and there really is tension to a solid conclusion. The acting is solid for this type of film. The practical effects are also pretty solid, but I’ll be honest, most of the CGI really doesn’t hold up. The soundtrack is fitting for what is needed and it is funny to see two songs that LL Cool J made just for this film. I can’t rate it more than an above average film, but it is a fun popcorn film to revisit time to time for sure.


My Rating: 7 out of 10