Jaws with attitude! There hasn't been a decent shark
adventure since the original Jaws (1975), although there have been
plenty of imitations and cheap rip-offs. Just when we thought it was
safe to venture back into the water, along comes Deep Blue Sea, an
undeniably trashy but entertaining big budget B-grade thriller from
director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight, etc).
Deep Blue Sea hits our screens in the wake of other disappointing
water-bound stinkers, like Kevin Costner's awful Waterworld and the
dire Sphere, but this one works a treat. If nothing else, this
enjoyable film will turn a number of people away from the beach this
Scientists at Aquatica, an ocean-based research station that
resembles something left over from the disastrous Waterworld, have
been tampering with Mako sharks in order to find a cure for
degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's. As a result their
genetic tampering has turned a natural killing machine into a highly
intelligent, dangerous predator with a thirst for blood. When a
savage tropical storm hits Aquatica and wrecks the place, the labs are
waterlogged and the sharks get free. They begin hunting the
scientists as they desperately try to make their way to the surface.
The international cast includes Thomas Jane (who, from a
distance, bears a vague resemblance to Kevin Costner), Aussie actress
Jacqueline McKenzie (Angel Baby), Michael Rapaport, Saffron Burrows
(currently in Wing Commander, etc), rapper L L Cool J (who adds some
humour to the film), and the very busy Samuel L Jackson. Half the fun
lies in working out which of these stars will become shark food and
who will survive.
The film was shot in the same huge tanks created for Titanic,
and delivers plenty of underwater action. Special effects technology
and computer generated imaging have advanced since Spielberg's day,
allowing Harlin and his special effects crew to create thoroughly
menacing sharks that move through the water with awesome fluidity.
Harlin is a deft hand at spectacular action sequences, and this fast
paced film certainly delivers plenty of thrills.
Deep Blue Sea deftly combines elements of Jaws, Jurassic Park
and The Poseidon Adventure, as well as many of the clichés of the
popular disaster movie. It is also reminiscent of the series of films
from the mid-'70's in which nature sought revenge on man for meddling
with the environment. Many of those films took themselves far too
seriously, and consequently they were pretty silly. However, the
makers of Deep Blue Sea seem aware of its inherent silliness, and the
film is all the better for it. The film is cliché- ridden, with
lots of unintentionally corny and banal dialogue, but this all somehow
adds to the enjoyment of the whole thing.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King