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Deep Blue Sea

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool, Michael Rapaport, Wayne Knight

Review by Walter Frith
2 stars out of 4

Director Renny Harlin had two films out in 1990. One of them was a disastrous film entitled 'The Adventures of Ford Fairlane' and the other was 'Die Hard 2', a worthy sequel to 1988's 'Die Hard'. Harlin can look so good at times and so lousy at others. He's one of the directors that frequents the big screen in schizophrenic style. His latest film, 'Deep Blue Sea', is somewhere in the middle between good and bad. It's sort of the purgatory of film making if you will.

On the plus side, there are no slow spots but on the negative side, there are too many references to other films such as 'Jaws', 'The Abyss' and 'The Poseidon Adventure'. There are also some pretty lousy special effects that look similar to the snake in 1997's 'Anaconda' which was cheesy and the computer crop marks around the enhanced snake looked very visible. In the case of 'Deep Blue Sea', they don't look quite as bad but they don't look all that convincing either.

Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) and Dr. Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgård) believe they may have found a protein like substance in a shark's brain that could lead to a major breakthrough in the cure for Alzheimer's disease. Funding the project is Russ Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson). As he and all the other major members of the cast are assembled, things go awry. There is the engineer Tom Scoggins (Michael Rapaport), another scientist Janet Winters (Jacqueline McKenzie), the shark handler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane) and a chef (LL Cool J). The entire project is on a station in the Pacific Ocean and battling the elements of a fierce storm and the rebelling sharks who don't like being experimented on are just some of the problems that arise causing everyone's life to be put in jeopardy. The sharks also have an extremely fast thinking process, an intelligence similar to a human being's that gives them the edge over us when you compare their strength and size to it all.

'Deep Blue Sea' is one of those pictures where the action concocted is at times mediocre at best. Mediocre because it lacks the injection of the little things that make an action picture work --- the detailed elements of things like humour from time to time, the ability to stop and take a breath and the intelligent stroke of trying to avoid a formula presentation which is a trap that many films seem to fall into, thinking that the audience hasn't seen it all before.

The screenplay of 'Deep Blue Sea' is by Duncan Kennedy, Wayne Powers and Donna Powers and has the elements of obligation rather than imagination. By that, I mean that it looks like they had a deadline to meet rather than by treating writing as the personal obligation that it is where no deadlines mean that the best work will be accomplished.

To make a movie about sharks is almost a waste since inevitable comparisons to 'Jaws' are sure to follow. After 'Jaws' we had 'Piranha', 'Orca', 'Alligator' and, yes, even 'Tentacles' about a giant octopus. It seems that almost twenty five years later, we still have the large predatory creature films that look less and less like entertainment and more and more like someone is obsessed with advancing computer technology at the expense of a paying audience.

OUT OF 5 > * * 1/2

Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith

* * * * * - a must see * * * * 1/2 - don't miss it * * * * - an excellent film * * * 1/2 - a marginal recommendation * * * - can't quite recommend it * * 1/2 - don't recommend it * * - avoid it * 1/2 - avoid it seriously * - avoid it AT ALL COSTS 1/2 - see it at your own risk zero - may be hazardous to your health

Copyright © 2000 Walter Frith

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