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Deep Blue Sea

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
A thrill ride, pure and simple. After sinking on the high seas with "Cutthroat Island" and failing to ignite sparks with "Long Kiss Goodnight", director Renny Harlin has wisely gone back to the basics that made his first efforts successful. After a short and slightly slow opening filling us in on the story, Harlin gets right to the chase with a lean, mean sci-fi film that may not be art. Or flawless. It does though, deliver a few very solid thrills along with a few handfuls of smaller but no less effective ones.

"Deep Blue Sea" starts off with a short open that lets us in on the story: a scientist(Saffron Burrows) is working with a crew on a station in the ocean doing genetic testing on sharks, and by harvesting a protein in the shark's brain, they believe that they can cure Alzheimers disease. We meet the basic crew as the "suit" who is funding the operation(Samuel L. Jackson) makes his arrival to check up on things. They include a shark wrangler(Thomas Jane), a cook(LL Cool J), scientist(Stellan Skarsgard) and other various people who are about to be reduced to fish food.

The picture's main asset is how fantastically paced it is. It lures our expectations along in the beginning, as we're sure that it's all going to go wrong at any moment and just when we can't stand the wait, the film springs upon us suddenly. After that, the picture really begins to move at a fierce pace, hardly stopping for a second to breathe. The dialogue may be silly, inane and contain it's fare share of odd moments(including a couple where the sole purpose seems to be to explain what's going to happen next to an audience that already knows), but there's no denying that the film's technical skill and full-throttle pace carried me over some of the story's goofier moments. It's not original(and it even has a moment where the director obviously takes from one of his other films), but there was hardly a moment where I wasn't on the edge of my seat.

It turns out that, due to the testing, the sharks have gotten increasingly smarter and begin coming after their captors in a series of attacks that are some of the fiercest sequences in memory. They merely stalk their victims through the halls and rooms of the flooded halls, but when they have room to swim they attack at blinding speed. "Deep Blue Sea" isn't afraid to show these moments, either. To be honest, the shark attacks aren't exactly pretty.

The actors are a mixed bag; Thomas Jane gives a convincing "action hero" performance as the wrangler; Burrows barely manages to make an unlikable character interesting, LL Cool J has a performance that's not only funny but effective- he also has some great lines. On the other hand, Michael Rappaport manages not to go anywhere new- he seems to be playing a mixture of every other character he's played. Samuel L. Jackson is alright, he mainly stands around for the first half of the picture.

Technically, the film is also quite good. The special effects are perfection- not only are the animatronic sharks great looking, but the computer generated sharks are flawless, swooping through the water at lightning speed. The Trevor Rabin score has moments that work and moments that don't. There were a number of moments that would be more effective and more terrifying had they occured in the midst of utter silence. Cinematography by Stephen Windon has numerous fine points, capturing the beautiful skys on the surface before they turn stormy as well as below the seas, keeping us right with the action. Most of all though is a solid effort by director Harlin at keeping the film moving non-stop throughout and constantly moving up the level of tension throughout.

"Deep Blue Sea" is the definition of a "popcorn" film. In a Summer where solid action seems in sort supply, "Deep Blue Sea" provides what it promises: 105 minutes of thrills, chills and solid entertainment.


Probably one of, if not the best DVDs I've ever seen from Warner Brothers in terms of image quality. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that Warner has given this film looks extremely good: colors are warm and vibrant, but even more than that, the picture quality itself is wonderfully smooth, looking sharp and impressively clear throughout the picture. Detail is remarkable and even the darker scenes still show excellent detail. Flesh tones are accurate and natural.

Where discs like Warner's "Wild Wild West" were certainly clear and crisp, this takes it all one step further. There's really nothing in the way of problems with shimmering or other such flaws; the print that is used is absolutely crystal clear and free of any problems at all. Really impressive work and although Warner Brothers has always done excellent DVD work, this is really some of their very best.
SOUND: Like any good action picture, once "Deep Blue Sea" gets going, it makes heavy and effective uses of the surrounds. During many of the action sequences, all speakers work together to create a totally enveloping experience. The rescue sequence early on in the picture is the first highlight of many; it's a wonderfully agressive sequence that puts the viewer right in the middle of it all. There are a few great sequences in this film as well that go from quiet to loud remarkably well and this DVD presents it all excellently. Explosions deliver a solid kick. Great-sounding score, and dialogue remains clear throughout. Definitely two big thumbs up.

MENUS:: Nicely, although not majorly, animated main menu with scenes from the movie playing in the background. .


Commentary: This is a commentary from director Renny Harlin and actor Samuel L. Jackson that, of course, talks about how the two felt about the comparisons that were going to be made (and were made) to "Jaws". That's how the discussion opens, then the commentary begins a very interesting and in-depth discussion of the picture and Harlin especially points out a lot of details which I wouldn't have otherwise noticed and found quite interesting.

Harlin discusses a lot of the film's technical features and special effects work, such as the blue screen FX and most importantly, how the sharks were made. There's an incredible amount of computer work done in this film, and even quite a bit that I wouldn't have thought were even FX. He also discusses a lot of the production aspects, such as how the Aquatica facility was made and where the picture was shot - mainly in the same tanks as "Titanic". Harlin also points out a cameo he does early in the movie where he walks through the background of a shot.

It's unfortunate that Jackson only stays throughout a portion of the commentary(for reasons which I won't reveal here), but while he is speaking, he and Harlin provide the two parts that are essential to a great commentary; Harlin provides a great deal of FX and technical detail (as well as a few interesting notes about the sound design) and Jackson provides a lot of fun( and definitely funny!) details about working with the various actors. It's a very good commentary and provides a very in-depth look at the making of this immense movie. If you're interested in the process of special FX, Harlin provides a wealth of information at various points throughout this discussion.

"The Sharks Of The Deep Blue Sea": This is a fairly short documentary (8 minutes) that takes a more in-depth look at the making of the various kinds of sharks that were built for this picture. What I found most interesting was the look at the inside and outsides of the animatronic sharks that were produced for this movie. I wouldn't watch this before you watch the movie, because it gives away a few of the movie's suprises.

"When Sharks Attack": A more general documentary about the making of the movie that lasts about 15 minutes. This documentary contains a lot more in the way of interviews with the various members of the cast and crew. It also provides some very interesting behind-the-scenes footage of some of the actors working with some very real sharks. Definitely worth a look.

Deleted Scenes:(8 MINUTES/5 SCENES):: With or without commentary from Renny Harlin, you can see 5 scenes that were cut from the movie. These are mainly scenes that extended dialogue and relationships between the characters that did not work well in a movie like this that needs to be as sleek and fast as possible once it really gets going.

DVD-ROM:: Web links, essays, trailers. DVD-ROM materials will not work on Macintosh computers.

Also: Trailer and cast/crew bios.

Final Thoughts The movie is a whole lot of fun and Warner Brothers has really put together a fine DVD. Highly recommended!.

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Highly Recommended

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