Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea. Warner Bros. Pictures 1999.

Before watching the movie:

I’m surprised that I don’t recognize any of the names at the top of the cast list other than Samuel L. Jackson. I would have thought the central protagonist would be a big name.

Anyway, scientists meddle with sharks and make them more dangerous because science things. It makes more sense than some of the places the Jaws franchise went, really.

After watching the movie:

After their underwater research facility has a shark escape and attack a group of boating teens, Dr. Susan McAlester and Dr. Jim Whitlock must prove to business executive Russell Franklin that their research is on track to save their funding. The facility’s work is for the purpose of using a protein found in shark brains to re-activate dormant human brain cells, and in order to extract enough material, the researchers had to produce extra-large sharks with much more brain mass. Although the test is a success, the shark lunges and bites Jim’s arm off, and when the medevac helicopter arrives, the shark manages to use his stretcher to not only pull the helicopter down, but also shatter the facility’s large second-level viewing window, flooding level two. The survivors try to find their way to the surface, trapped in a sinking laboratory surrounded by sharks with brains big enough to plan ahead.

I’m not sure if this is exceptionally by the numbers for a horror/disaster movie, but it certainly felt like there wasn’t much built on top of that basic outline. Certainly there was nobody I particularly cared about, good or bad. It did seem a little uneven to have a long section of the movie where all of the survivors are in one group, except Preacher is trapped alone in the galley to provide comic relief cutaways, but otherwise, all the basic beats are hit and the only thing that’s distinctive is the hyperintelligent sharks.

Usually a movie with a slow start will draw me in during the second act, but that didn’t happen with this one.  I wasn’t repelled by anything other than the extra-gratuitous underwear scene for the trailers, it just didn’t appeal to me on much of any level. The most interesting Samuel L. Jackson got was immediately before his early exit. A character I thought I was going to care the most about died very early. Everyone else was pretty much just there, about to be eaten by sharks. It’s not even silly enough to enjoy ironically, it’s just competent. I guess the intended strength is the suspense, but if the suspense fails, the movie falls apart. And for me, it fell apart.

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