Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Even if Sigourney Weaver played the white coat in charge of mammal brain development, this would never have been anything but a sinker. You can't go on regurgitating the same old plot and expect a gullible public not to notice.

Essential ingredients for an Aliens makeover: 1) Spacecraft, or manmade structure cut off from civilisation (last time it was a ship in Virus). 2) Group of unknown actors, with B List demi-stars filling cameo roles. 3) Scary killing machines intent on destroying the human race. 4) Dialogue of a celestial nature - ie not of this world.

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Deep Blue Sea covers all bases. The structure is a mid-ocean scientific establishment, where "almost everyone here is top of their field" - the key word is "almost". The cast of not-yet-recognisable talent is represented by stereotypes, such as ice-cold Brit beauty with one expression (Saffron Burrows) and brave, stupid, muscle-bound hunk with no sense of irony (Thomas Jane). Samuel L Jackson, Michael Rapaport and Stellan Skarsgard take the cameos. The killing machines are sharks that have been genetically altered to increase their intelligence, making them even more efficient as man eaters. The script does not disappoint: "You wait your whole life for a single moment and then suddenly it's tomorrow." Eh?

The sharks are in sea pens (supposedly), while the scientists research a cure for Alzheimer's. Bad weather cues oilskins-ain't-enough music. Burrows freezes with fear and forgets how to act. The place starts disintegrating. The big fish come looking for lunch. There's water, water everywhere and only the cook (LL Cool J) has the sense to hide in an oven.

As a look-what-we-can-do-with-animatronics showcase, the movie has its cheesy moments. As a tension trembly battle for survival against unequal odds, it's exhausting. As an action spectacle, designed to put the wind up Jaws junkies, it's a ripple on the surface of plagiarism.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Research scientists may end up swimming with the fishes after sharks fight back.
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Stephen Carty ***

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers

Starring: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard, LL Cool J, Aida Turturro, Jacqueline MccKenzie

Year: 1999

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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