Deep Blue Sea
starring Samuel Jackson, Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Jacqueline McKenzie and Michael Rapaport
written by Duncan Kennedy, Donna Powers and Wayne Powers
directed by Renny Harlin
I wonder how Samuel Jackson got mixed up in a film as bad as this. I was eagerly waiting for the chance to see Deep Blue Sea because the shark effects were said to be really good and scary, much better than Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (Roy Scheider an Richard Dreyfuss), made about 25 years ago. I was disappointed.
I have already given some of the movie away. It is a shark movie. Researchers working in a Pacific Ocean marine station west of Baja Californiahave bred giant Mako sharks in order to harvest a chemical form their brains that might be a cure for degenerative human brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Ordinary Mako sharks are too small, their brains are too small to proud cue enough of the chemical to make it worthwhile. So the scientists genetically alter their specimens to increase their brain mass to a point where they produce enough of the chemical. A side effect is that the sharks become more intelligent. Then there comes a time when the intelligent sharks turn on the humans, creating horror under water. This is the movie. Sharks are just about the oldest form of life on the planet, basically unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. They originated in a time when there were no self-conscious creatures. Existence was only delicious flesh and teeth. Breeding super-intelligent sharks which then get loose and swim amok basically reverses the food chain and makes humans the angerously vulnerable prey.
It is a good story, but it could have been done a lot better. To begin with, get rid of the understudy cast and put first-rank stars in
the leading roles.
The much-talked-about shark effects, which were done with a combination of computer graphics and more modern machinery than was used in Jaws in the 1970s were not as fabulous as I hoped for. To me the sharks in close-up still looked like machines.
With a relatively small cast, the movie begins with about eight or ten characters trapped underwater in a man-made facility. And, incidentally, the ‘facility’ looked a lot like a cross between the sets of The Abyss and Alien. I kept trying to guess who would be left alivewhen they finally reached safety on the surface, and I was continually surprised. Or disappointed, as one person after another perished. Everybody I expected to survive kept getting eaten. Samuel Jackson’s character didn’t survive the first 45-minutes - only about half the film.
The movie Jaws was not about fear of sharks. It was about fear of the unseen. You go swimming a few meters into the water, you cannot see the bottom, and you don’t know what’s down there. Movies like Deep Blue Sea, Alien and The Abyss are not about alien creatures and monsters as such. They are about being trapped somewhere with no escape and no control.
To answer Samuel Jackson’s question, what does an 8,000-pound Mako shark think about ? It thinks about escape into the deep blue sea.