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DEEP BLUE SEA

SYNOPSIS:
Dr Susan McAlester’s (Saffron Burrows) experiments are on the verge of creating medical history and finding the key to the regeneration of human brain tissue. She wants to beat Alzheimer's. She has been playing with the brain tissue of sharks, making them smarter and faster. With her fellow crew members, namely shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), Sherman ‘Preacher’ Dudley (LL Cool J), Janice Higgins (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard), Dr McAlester tries to convince financial backer Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) not to shut the project down. The sharks have their own plans. . .

"When I recently stayed in a hotel with a jacuzzi, I mistakenly added foaming bath gel, and submerged into a capuccino-like foam that engulfed me into its soapy fathoms. Watching Deep Blue Sea reminded me of that experience – rising water, oodles of foam and an over-the-top surreal experience. But I am being flippant. Deep Blue Sea is a big-effects creature feature, where the sharks are big and mean with fangs that make Dracula look like a Playschool presenter. It's all larger than life: big fish, big bangs with big sound and a frenetic music score. Alcatraz on the ocean is how they describe Aquatica, home of shark research, where sexy chief researcher is experimenting. She wears a designer bikini under her wet suit, too! The sharks, they tell us, now have super intelligence – although at times, it occurred to me that they were darn stupid. You might want to hold your breath at times – I did – and decided that my lung capacity certainly isn't big enough. But lung capacity isn't a pre-requisite for armchair undersea adventures, and it is good to see Jacqueline McKenzie on the screen again, though it's not a role that makes her shine. Here is an adventure of the deep – with cinematography from Aussie Steven Windon, bringing us big, big close ups of a top name cast, who play second fiddle to the sharks. The script is pretty contrived and predictable, but there's appealing humour and the film doesn't take itself too seriously. I mean, when the film's premise is what exercises the mind of an 8,000 lb shark, you have to go with the flow – or the drift. This is lightweight entertainment, where you know exactly what you're going to get. With terrific effects and glib humour coated on its bloody exterior, Deep Blue Sea is brash-trash, and in its genre, it delivers."
Louise Keller

"The Poseidon Adventure meets Jaws in this mildly entertaining if somewhat derivative, shark-infested thriller, which has an underlying theme of some pretension. But when all's said and done, Deep Blue Sea is another monster movie set underwater. Unlike Lake Placid, this one takes itself far too seriously, and the result is a mixed bag. The script falls short when it comes to creating any real sense of character, and the film is sprinkled with patchy dialogue that fails to ring true. As characterisation tends to fall by the wayside, performance is as patchy as the script. Samuel L. Jackson is always watchable, and even here, he rises to the surface, delivering a strong performance while coming to grips with an underwritten role. Rapper LL Cool J provides the film's only laughs and is fun to watch. On the other hand, Saffron Burrows is attractively innocuous, and one wonders why she was cast. The answer becomes clear later in the film, when in trying to kill one of the sharks; she suddenly disrobes, left in her bra and panties. Perhaps she figured the shark in question wanted a perve; it's one of the film's sillier moments. Aussie Jacqueline McKenzie, in her second US film, is competent but not exceptional, and knowing how genuinely remarkable an actress she is, her talents are clearly wasted here. On the plus side, Deep Blue Sea is a marvel of visuals, and Harlin knows how to take advantage of the medium. He creates suspense rather beautifully, and the movie is splendidly crafted, and beautifully shot on the complex Titanic sound stages. On a purely technical level, Deep Blue Sea manages to rise above the mediocrity of the material, and is a dazzling array of special effects and seamless editing. It's a pity that all this technical wizardry has gone to waste on a film that is so pedestrian. As clever a movie as it appears, we've seen all this before."
Paul Fischer

"Agree with both the above; it's a disaster epic-come-creature feature and subtle is not a word you'd hurl at this film, but what it sets out to achieve, it achieves. It has fun. Director Renny Harlin's cinematic strength is making you waste your money on a full seat, when all you need is the edge. Your brain can be having a break on the Barrier Reef. . . and probably is: it's shark free. The music and sound combine to jolt the bejeesus out of you, and the action-tension scores 11 on the 10 scale. The bottom line is that if you're reading this you're not in the film's target market. And if you're in the target market, you'll have a good time, from the adrenaline-charging opening sequence that hooks you, to the breathless and bloody finale that releases your endorphins just in time to wobble up the aisle and search for a quick hit of caffeine or alcohol. On its own terms, the film works; for me, I need a quick fix of Casablanca."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 2

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See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

JACQUELINE McKENZIE

TRAILER

See our DVD REVIEW

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

DEEP BLUE SEA (M)
(US)

CAST: Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson.

DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin

PRODUCER: Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche

SCRIPT: Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen Windon A.C.S.

EDITOR: Frank J. Urioste A.C.E., Derek G. Brechin, Dallas S. Puett

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin

PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Sandell

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 27, 1999







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