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Deep Blue Sea"Deep Blue Sea" On DVD

It Bites...

by Jim Bray

Warner Brothers' "Deep Blue Sea" has an interesting concept made formulaic and cliched thanks to a hamfisted screenplay and some cheesy digital effects.

It's too bad, too, because the concept of super-intelligent sharks hunting their captors is pretty neat - and the talented cast gives very good performances.

Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) weaves the tale of a scientific outpost in the Pacific Ocean where they're messing with sharks' heads to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease in humans. It's a noble cause, but as usually happens when scientists mess around with Mother Nature in the movies, the results are nothing short of chaotic.

All hell breaks loose when the project's rich sponsor (Samuel L. Jackson) is brought aboard for a look at his investment. As if on cue, the sharks revolt - and things get progressively more revolting.

The rest of the movie, which tries to rip off a whole bunch of its predecessors - not only "Jaws" - sees the humans trying to make their way out of the submerged part of their base much as the survivors did in "The Poseidon Adventure." And, as in "The Andromeda Strain," part of this escape involves them climbing a long ladder to safety while avoiding obstacles.

There are shades of "Alien" in the claustrophobic feel of the station, and I lost track of all the other movies they've ripped off - er, paid homage to - in this mishmash. I had even figured out who was going to live by the end about half way through this predictable storyline.

The cast is led by Saffron Burroughs, LL Cool J, Thomas Jane, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard, and Samuel L. Jackson - a great cast who must have been well paid. Since the cast obviously cost an arm and a leg (wait'll you see whose arms and legs!), they seem to have needed to cut back elsewhere - in this case, on the digital special effects.

Oh, the sharks look great, but other effects, notably a spout of water coming up from an opening in an undersea deck, look as if they were done by a high school student experimenting with the school's new version of Maya (not to malign Maya, by the way!).

"Deep Blue Sea" is also unnecessarily graphic. It's enough to see the shark grab its victim and haul him or her under water. We know what's going to happen then, especially since the water turns all red.

We don't need to see the body parts floating away, or a dismembered leg twitching of its own volition.

Still, the thrills have to come from somewhere I suppose.

Oh well, the DVD is offered in both widescreen and Pan&Scan and audio and video quality are great. You also get lots of extras, including a behind-the-scenes documentary ("When Sharks Attack"), commentary by director Harlin and star Jackson, and some deleted scenes with an optional commentary track by Harlin. There's also a documentary on the creation of the film's digital shark effects, and a gallery of still pictures.

Naturally, there's also cast/crew info, chapters, etc. A DVD-ROM component includes a couple of essays, one on horror films and one on the sci-fi genre, a sampler of other sci-fi film trailers, and a link to the film's web site.

Lots of stuff you can really get your teeth into...

Deep Blue Sea, from Warner Home Video
105 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1)Pan&Scan, enhanced for widescreen TV's, Dolby Digital
Starring Saffron Burroughs, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson
Produced by Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche, Screenplay by Duncan Kennedy and Donna Powers & Wayne Powers
Directed by Renny Harlin


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Updated May 13, 2006