Deep Blue Sea (1999)

reviewed by
John Beachem

Review by John Beachem
* 1/2
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Written by: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers

Contrary to what the previews might have you believe, "Deep Blue Sea" is not a film about smart sharks. I don't personally believe the sharks involved were particularly intelligent. The movie is actually about stupid people. For example, in one scene, our supposedly brilliant scientists are trapped in their cozy little underwater lab while a shark smashes the large window they're all staring through. The window cracks all over the place, water starts leaking through, and still the group continues to stare. Finally, it shatters completely, and only Samuel L. Jackson's character has the brains to tell everyone to run. I truly believe that if he hadn't said anything, they all would have been washed out into the sea, still staring blankly ahead. This is simply one of the more idiotic scenes in an incredibly stupid movie.

Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is a driven scientist who is obsessed with finding the cure for Alzheimer's. The problem is, she's not showing any results, and her funding is about to be cut. So she drags her benefactor, Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson), out to her little floating laboratory to show him all that she has accomplished. Her crew consists of a shark expert (Thomas Jane), a cook (L. L. Cool J), two scientists (Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgard), and the brainy, though irritating, computer expert (Michael Rapaport). I think there were a few others, but it's obvious from the start that they're going to be shark food. The sharks at this lab are apparently smarter than the average bear, and as a result they are able to break free of their cages and wreak havoc. True to disaster movie formula, there is a massive hurricane at this time (darn the luck). The valiant (though still incredibly stupid) crew tries to make it to the surface before the sharks make meals of them.

Before I go any further, I must confess to being afflicted by a massive fear of sharks. I remember reading about carpet sharks when I was a little kid, and how they hid in the sand, just waiting for some unsuspecting sap to swim nearby so they could have a snack. Anyway, that fear has haunted me to this day, and "Deep Blue Sea" still didn't scare me in the slightest. In this modern age, with its huge advances in computer technology, you'd think they could have made these sharks look mildly realistic. I'm afraid not folks. These look like something out of an old '50s movie, like "The Lost World" (the original, not the equally horrible '97 version). So I sat there, watching these stupid people being chased by incredibly fake looking sharks, and all that I could think was, please let either the sharks or the people die, so this torture will end.

How this pitiful excuse for a script managed to attract an actor of Samuel Jackson's caliber will forever be a mystery to me. All I can figure, is he was either simply bored out of his mind, or the producers drove up to his house with a truck full of money (which would explain why they couldn't afford decent special effects). With the exception of LL Cool J, the remaining actors are unimpressive, even in roles which require them to do nothing more than run around screaming. As for poor LL Cool J, he somehow manages to spark some life into his role as the hassled and underappreciated cook. The truth is, I really feel sorry for LL Cool J. The man is not an untalented actor, yet he is handed nothing but rotten scripts ("Toys", "Any Given Sunday"). I believe he could do something with a good, comic script.

I don't know if I can even recommend this film to fans of cheesy "b" horror movies, because it's not at all scary. However, I would recommend it to those of you who want to see how not to use digital technology. I suppose there are a few humorous scenes (though I can't seem to remember what they were), and several unintentionally hilarious ones (the massive sharks fitting through tiny little doors is a good example). "Deep Blue Sea" runs an excruciatingly long 104 minutes, during which you'll either fall asleep, or be too awe struck at the stupidity of this film to do so. Stay far, far away from this one or studios might think there is money to be made in creating more films like it. I grant it a sadly generous one and a half out of five stars.

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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now. * * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one. * * * - Okay movie, hits and misses. * * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do. * - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.

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