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