Deep Blue

Deep Blue


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, an environmental buff or an average punter in the street, Deep Blue will have at least something that will drop your jaw a notch or two.

For those who revelled in the wonderful BBC underwater series, The Blue Planet, Deep Blue brings the best of this to the big screen, which is the ideal stage for such an event.

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Whether it be the sight of dolphins putting world champion surfers to shame with their graceful skimming through giant pipeline waves, huge ravenous killer whales tossing seals hundreds of feet airborne like cheap rag dolls, or hammer head sharks thrashing around competitively in a fearsome scrap for thousands of fish forced into a mighty vortex for survival, your appetite for the deep will be repulsed, whetted and delighted in quick succession.

The juxtaposition of epic high-rise panoramic views of a blue ocean blanket disappearing into the horizon, with the colourful chaos that plays beneath this seamless veneer, is highly effective. Merely a few feet below lives another planet: "A constant cycle of birth, death and renewal."

The directors steer us through the seasons of the year, which is a never-ending process of survival. Huge polar bears scour the vast melting ice expanses, searching for seals and fish. Even tougher than them are the Emperor penguins from the Antarctic who in winter, endure three months of starvation, 100 mph freezing winds and temperatures of minus70 degrees before they make for better climates. Tough little blighters!

Between the light relief of Emperor penguins precariously torpedoing themselves from sea to melting ice, we are transported elsewhere. Strangely enough, narrator Michael Gambon never pinpoints the location, but this time it's the monumental sight of killer whales on the rampage. Nature's brutal and unforgiving approach is most evident when the orca whale savages a newly born grey whale and its mother, tearing away the whole baby's outer jaw in one swift motion. The grieving mother, having carried the baby for 13 months, swims off despondently. Paradoxically, we are reminded that we are the real killers, with only 1% of the sea's largest mammal remaining: the blue whale.

Things get really bizarre when we plunge even deeper, bypassing the coral reefs with their compliment of tropical fish, for what is aptly described as "liquid space." Down in the murky depths of beyond, five miles below the earth's crust on the ocean bed, is a pressure 500 times greater than sea level. With no light at all, life forms, scarier looking than ever, have adapted remarkably. Fish with lights flashing like a discotheque and characteristics resembling Star Wars battles in space, are purely miracles of evolution.

Deep Blue would be best served in an Imax theatre, where the range of products can be visually stunning, but lousy in content. This is a fascinating account of the earth's largest mystery phenomenon. The commentary, however, is at times sparse and would have benefited from more geographical detail. There is also little or no showing of the most feared predator of all, the great white. Or, perhaps the most lethal of all, salt water crocodiles, which are said to discreetly roam the depths of the oceans hundreds of miles out.

Overall, these faults are merely a drop in the ocean.

Reviewed on: 28 Jun 2004
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Documentary on the beautiful and brutal realities of the undersea world.
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Read more Deep Blue reviews:

Stephanie Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Andy Byatt, Alastair Fothergill

Year: 2003

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK/Germany


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