Deep Blue Sea
Dir: Renny Harlin
Star: Saffron Burrows, Michael Rapaport, Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R2

After an "experimental" shark escapes from a secret medical research facility and attacks a yacht. The doctor in charge of the project Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) is hauled in to her superiors to explain the incident. With her project facing a complete shutdown, she is given 48 hours to prove it's worth in order to continue. Overseeing the test and 48 hour time limit is Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) the president of the pharmeceutical company which has funded the experiments. Accompanying McAllister in a sea plane he travels out to "Aquatica" the decommissioned World War 2 submarine base which has been converted for the project. McAllister's project involves the utilization of specific proteins from the brain of a shark, in order to combat the degenerative effects caused by Alzheimers disease. In order to harvest larger qunatities of this protein complex, the doctor and her team of experts have tinkered with the genetic make up of the sharks to increase their brain capacity. As a direct result of this, the sharks have become a LOT smarter.

The film starts in a very Jaws-esque stylee as four partying teenagers are attacked on their yacht. It would be difficult not to compare any shark movie to the classic piece of craft served up by Steven Spielberg. By todays standards Jaws can appear a little cheesy primarily due to the blatant rubber texture of the titular star but he did set a certain standard with that film and also created a few new cliches to boot. In some respects the days of the "big rubber shark" are thankfully long gone but CGI isn't the be all and end all and this is a good example of some of the failings of the medium. There are several painfully CGI scenes in the film and they can look quite awful in places. The technological bounds have progressed and the animatronic sharks are stunning, superb and quite scary.

The story is essentially a cursory tale warning of the pitfalls of genetic manipulation and general tinkering with nature for the purpose of medical science. The story is generally a refreshing change from the norm and has a subtle underlying moral message. If there is one thing likely to scare the pants off of anyone it's the terrifying prospect of natures most perfect killing and eating machine suddenly becoming a whole lot smarter.

A great cast provide some good performances and the audience is kept guessing who will die next as very few make it out, with a few surprises along the way. A rigid performance by the delightful Saffron Burrows matches the single minded persona of her character and for the slightly warmer blooded individuals she does strip down to her underwear for an excessive lesson regarding electricity in one scene. An interesting performance by Samuel L. Jackson it starts off well but kind of ebbs out part way through, unlike him. Excellent performances from Michael Rappaport (the "new" Bill Paxton?), Jacqueline McKenzie and the ever surreal Stellan Skarsgård. I did prefer Skarsgård in Ronin as he had more of a role and could really project himself more. Occasionally impressive performance by Thomas Jane as Carter the professional "shark wrangler". After seeing the performance of L.L. Cool J in this, it's good to see that his acting appears better than his rapping. I found him quite impressive here as he injects some "comic relief" to the proceedings and remains one of the more memorable characters.

The main "bones" of the film is the direction. Here the inadequacies of Renny Harlin shine through once more. His talent is undeniably in "action direction" and at this he is very good, but unfortunately when he tries to tie all his excellent action scenes together they fall apart. Ideally he should work as a second unit director as this would be more suited to his abilities. No disrespect to the guy, I admit that some of his action work has been quite superb......but whenever he has directed an entire movie which requires something other than action he cannot handle it and the film inevitably falls short. In fairness I will avoid commenting upon his attempt at directing horror (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master should be more than adequate). This is an entertaining movie and it manages to invoke an oppressive feel with some cool underwater photography and a theme not too dissimilar to the theme from Jaws.

Despite a couple of painfully bland characters once the movie gets going it does hold your attention quite well, although there isn't any really jumpy or nail biting tension there are some impressive set pieces. Lots of explosions and gore chomping bountifully fuelled by buckets of blood.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Sharp crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Very bassy and good quality soundtrack.
Features Semi Animated menu
Commentary by Samuel L. Jackson and "director" Renny Harlin
Series of deleted Scenes
Theatrical trailer
Selected cast & director filmographies
"When sharks Attack" - behind the scenes featurette
"The Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea" - mini featurette
Verdict A good disc but not especially abundant on the extra's front so an average presentation on the whole really.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home