Filmmaking rule #1: If your film stars giant genetically altered sharks, there is no need for a plot, character development, or logic.
This is a rule that Deep Blue Sea follows exactly, without any compromise. Renny Harlin directs this minor shark classic with a breakneck pace, but the special effects ruin everything.
Aquatica is an under (and slightly above) water research facility. Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) has funded this project, but after one of the facilities guests escapes and attacks a small boat, he demands to see the project first hand. Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) is the lead scientist trying to cure Alzheimer’s disease by studying and altering sharks; natures perfect creation. After a slight incident involving a helicopter and the facility itself, things start to go horribly wrong and the contained sharks are free to roam about, chomping on the various people who get in their way.
Deep Blue Sea does a lot right. Characters who would never die in other films become shark bait, the action is superb, and the scare factor is sky high. This film has so many unpredictable moments, you’re bound to feel the same tension the characters feel. The acting is on par (though unremarkable) and there is hardly a dull moment to be found. LL Cool J also provides some great comic relief as Preacher Dudley.
Sadly, the uses of cheesy, hardly believable CGI effects ruin everything. Some absolutely wonderful full size animatronics sharks were built for the film and they are flawless. Intercut with the computer-generated sharks makes the entire film laughable. The animation is so fast and impossible, it seems like these animals have no backbones. Most of these effects would be possible on the Playstation 2. If the special effects were better, this could have been one of the best shark films ever made. It’s a shame that they screwed this up. (*** out of *****)
Warner presents this film in 2.35:1 widescreen, the way it should be. The flesh tones seem way off at times with blistering color, but other moments they seem fine. The transfer holds together but never causes bleeding, but some color correction would have went a long way to improving this disc. Otherwise, there is a light layer of film grain over this very soft transfer. Black levels are solid, though some of the underwater scenes have a very washed out look to them (though this could be intended). This isn’t the best transfer of all time, but it is serviceable. (***)
The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack works well, but does seem limited in the rears. A few nice water crashing effects and the helicopter explosion use them extensively, but that is the extent of the surrounds. However, your subwoofer will get a major workout here. It’s used constantly in almost every sequence, shaking the room with ridiculous amounts of bass. This is a very strong 5.1 mix and recommended if you want to give a workout to your sub. (****)
This is a decent special edition for the film, but there is little earth-shattering here. First is a commentary by Renny Harlin and Samuel L Jackson. Harlin also leads the way through eight minutes of deleted scenes and these can be viewed without commentary. Most of the scenes were used for character development and we all know this serves no purpose here. The video quality here is also suspect. They’re almost hard to watch in this condition.
When Sharks Attack is a 15-minute minor making of documentary that really focuses on the underwater dives with real sharks they did prior to filming. There are a few shots that they used in the film from these dives. The rest is padded with brief looks at the soundtrack, special effects, and the actor’s experiences. Sharks of Deep Blue Sea is roughly the same length as the deleted scenes, but focuses completely on the special effects. The animatronic sharks are explained in detail and hearing Harlin praising the CG is funny. Both of these documentaries are entirely full screen. Finishing off the disc are some DVD-ROM features, stills, and the trailer. (***)
Deep Blue Sea is a certainly a must for shark and horror fans, but anyone else should be advised to stay away. What it lacks in originality it makes up for with superb action, but no one will watch this film and not laugh at the effects. It’s hardly excusable and this movies deathblow.
Originally posted at Breaking Windows.