Director John Stockwell's 2002 feature, "Blue Crush", was tripped up by some goofy moments and familiar plotting, but when it quieted down, it remained a visually remarkable (the surfing footage is greatly impressive) film about friendship and the power and rush of the surf. It was a promising feature, as was Stockwell's teen drama "Crazy/Beautiful".
However, the director has stumbled with "Into the Blue", a teen drama/actioner starring Paul Walker (whose mere presence is generally a warning sign about any film.) The film stars Walker as Jared, a diver just let go from his tour job. Out on a boat along with girlfriend Sam (Jessica Alba), brother Bryce (Scott Caan) and his girlfriend (Ashley Scott), Jared stumbles onto the wreckage of a legendary ship.
That's all well and good, and looks to make the group a fortune. However, two things stand in their way: the sharks that encircle the area, and the downed drug plane that lurks in the water not too far in the distance. If the group can just figure out how to handle the whole situation, they'll find new lives for themselves.
But, of course they don't.
Predictably, the drug kingpin whose supply was on said plane manages to find out about the whole situation and quickly causes some serious trouble for the group, as do a group of competitors. However, this occurs only after a surprising amount of rather uneventful build-up for story and characters that are on the thin side (and, in terms of the characters, rather dim side) to begin with. It takes the movie a good 45 minutes to start rolling as much as it can, and in a movie like this, that's a serious issue. Making matters worse is Walker's performance, which is the most cheesy, wooden effort in a career full of them. The other three aren't much better (although to the partial credit of Scott and Caan, they're playing irritating characters.)
The film's underwater cinematography, while not nearly as incredible as some of "Blue Crush"'s surfing sequences, is still enjoyable at times, with the crystal clarity making a few moments almost look like outtakes from an IMAX movie. Above water, Stockwell's camera spends most of its time staring at the female leads.
Stockwell appears to definitely know his way around the water, but in appearing to search for another film to head into the deep, he should have kept searching for a better screenplay, not to mention better actors. "Into the Blue" starts getting going in the second half, but it never quite comes together well enough, as we aren't engaged by these characters. Hopefully, Stockwell's next feature will turn out better.
VIDEO: "Into the Blue" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Video in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture looks absolutely crystal clear, with some of the underwater scenes offering a surprising amount of detail. The presentation did show some minor edge enhancement at times, but it was seen only briefly and did not cause too much distraction. Aside from the infrequent edge enhancement, no other concerns were spotted. Colors remained bright and bold throughout, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Into the Blue" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. While Stockwell's "Crush" offered almost demo-worthy audio, "Into the Blue" didn't boast quite the same level of activity. Surrounds did kick in for the occasional sound effect and some underwater ambience, but the presentation was not terribly aggressive overall. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, clear effects and dialogue.
EXTRAS: Commentary from Stockwell, "Diving Deeper Into the Blue" featurette, screen tests (Caan, Caan/Walker, Tyson Beckford), 10 deleted scenes w/optional commentary and previews for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: Not awful and yet also just altogether not much, "Into the Blue" remains a mostly forgettable flick, lead by a terrible performance from Walker. Sony Pictures Home Video offers a fine DVD edition, with excellent audio/video quality and a decent selection of supplements. Those interested may want to try a rental, but otherwise, not recommended.