J.B. Rockwell is at it again. This time, she’s taking on a movie that I – Lilyn – absolutely love. However, I know she’ll treat it with all the respect (heh) it deserves. Enjoy this bad movie recap and review of Deep Blue Sea. And, afterwards, take a gander at my review of her book Serengeti, and then go buy it because you needs it.
Deep Blue Sea
(or, as I like to call it)
3-Way Shark Attack!
By J.B. Rockwell
Sharks. You know ‘em, you love ‘em, especially when they go all psycho and start munching people. If you follow Lilyn’s book reviews, you’ll know she’s been on something of a chomping monsters bender lately, which got me thinking about my next movie. I mean, when it comes to toothsome monsters, there are many, right? So, so many. But when it comes to bad-good movies, well you just can’t go wrong with a shark attack flick. There was just one problem: which movie to choose.
I’ll be honest, this is a rather enjoyable problem to have. The pantheon of shark attack movies is many and, well, not exactly varied (mostly its chomp, blood, death, repeat) but certainly many. The big daddy of them all is Jaws, of course—a movie I 100% love and stop to watch pretty much every time I run across it—but Jaws is a straight up good movie, not a bad-good movie. Granted, Jaws 3D and Jaws 4 are of questionable quality, but Jaws 2 was still passably decent and…well, none of that really matters. Jaws and its sequels didn’t quite fit the spirit of a bad-good movie review in my opinion, and since it’s my gig, my opinion’s the only one that matters. So there.
Okay, so we ruled out Jaws. What next? Hmm…SyFy has a ton of shark-based movies on offer: Ghost Shark, Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy, 2-Headed Shark Attack, 3-Headed Shark Attack, Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf, all those Sharknado and Mega Shark movies…nah, none of those felt quite right either. I wanted a shark movie that was a little less cheese and a little more desperately trying to be legit.
The Shallows? No, too much ‘ooooh! Isn’t Kate Hudson hot’ for my tastes. I passed on Open Water because it’s based on a true story and Dark Tide with Halle Berry for looking totally and utterly lame. That’s pretty much how things went for a while—nope, nope, and definitely nope—until I tripped over an old chestnut from the late 90s that was just dripping with bad-goodness. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ended up rewatching Deep Blue Sea.
So, right about now, some of you are wondering about my mental health and why anyone on God’s green earth would consider anything about this movie to be good. Well, first off, it acknowledges its progenitors. Watch Deep Blue Sea closely (or not, it’s pretty blatant) and you’ll spot nods to Jaws and its sequels all over the place. I may just be imagining it, but I also noted several scenes that also reminded me of Jurassic Park, but just may be me getting my toothy-mawed movies confused.
Either way, I loved the homage to King Munch. Mostly, though, it’s the cast that makes this movie for me. In keeping with its budget, and scripts, and pretty much everything else about this film, the producers blew their wad on one big actor (Samuel L. Jackson) and dug down into the B-List to fill out the rest of the cast:
- The ‘Almost but Not Quite Buff and Hotsy-Totsy’ male lead played by Thomas Jane…or is it Aaron Eckhart? I can never tell those two guys apart. Seriously, they’re some kind of weird twinsies or something. I mean, you tell me which is which. Can’t, can you? No one can!
- The ‘Smart Girl Who’s Kind of a Baddy but Also Hotsy-Totsy for Realsies’ female lead played by Saffron Burrows and her long, long legs. Surprisingly, she makes it quite a ways into the movie before stripping down to her bra and panties, but yeah, eventually it goes there.
- The ‘Bad Boy Who’s a Good Boy and Loves his Bible’ comic relief character featuring LL Cool J. To his credit, Mr. Cool dials the macho tough guy routine pretty far back for this movie. Points to Double L for that.
- The Nerd Collective comprised of Stellan Skarsgard (as the older, respectable nerd), Michael Rapaport (as the younger, whinier, and far more useless nerd), and Jacqueline McKensie (as the token female nerd).
All that aside, this movie’s all about the sharks. Three of them in total, because just one people stalking shark? Pffft. Wimps. One shark ain’t got nuthin’ on three chomper monsters.
Searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease, a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the bait, as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back.
Thomas Jane (Known for looking like Aaron Eckhart, also The Mist and Dreamcatcher) as Carter Blake: Snake Wrangler and ex con. The nice kind, who just…smuggles things. Because he needs to. More of a gentleman pirate, really, than a true ex con.
Saffron Burrows (Star of Troy and Wing Commander. Yes, that’s right. I referenced Wing Commander) as Dr. Susan McAlester: The Hooty McBoobity of our story. Also a shark/brain scientist desperate to find a cure for Alzeihemer’s and kinda sorta the second/alternate baddy in this movie she spends most of it trying to not kill the sharks.
Samuel L. Jackson (Known for being Samuel Motherfucking L. Jackson, also Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane) as Russell Franklin: The de facto bad guy whom everyone immediately hates because he’s rich. And funds all the super secret research on this isolated research facility. How dare he?!
Michael Rapaport (Who got his big break with Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite) as Tom Scoggins: The token engineer kept around to periodically spit out doom and gloom and timely factoids about the research facility. And be whiny and scared, as needed.
Stellan Skarsgard (Father to all those other Skarsgards, also Erik Selvig from Thor and the Avengers) as Jim Whitlock: A ‘brilliant’ shark researcher and scientist who likes to piss of watch towers in his free time and smoke at entirely inappropriate moments.
LL Cool J (Rapper turned actor, stills wants to go back to Cali) as Preacher (seriously, they couldn’t come up with a better name than that): A Bible loving, bird-loving professionally trained eggs and hash man. Because every super secret shark research facility has a chef, right?
Jacqueline McKenzie (Umm…she’s done stuff but the only thing I recognize is The 4400) as Janice Higgins: the other female scientist on this middle of nowhere rig. I want to say more about this character but she’s essentially the throwaway girl that is so obviously going to get munched that there’s absolutely no shock value when it actually happens.
Budget & Box Office Info:
Release Date: 30 July 1999
Box Office Sales: $73M US
Sequels, Crossovers, Tie-Ins & Other Good Stuff:
Uhhh, not much. This is the first time I came up mostly blank in this area, and I’m frankly disappointed. Supposedly Warner Premier has a sequel planned and rumor has it that they even started filming something this past June with plans to release the movie on the SyFy channel, but we’ll see if the projects makes it through to completion and distribution. I supposed a sequel makes sense. After all, there are a lot of sharks out there and someone (probably Russian, maybe North Korean is bound to have another super secret shark research facility lying around, right? Right??!!)
The Story of Deep Blue Sea (in a Nutshell):
Warning: Spoilers. Proceed with caution.
Businessman Russell Franklin (AKA Action Jackson) sinks $200 million into a super secret, open ocean research facility and a special project to help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Using sharks. This is a shark movie, after all, and there are sharks. So…why not?
His partner in crime is the dead sexy and eternally duck-facing Dr. Susan McAlester—a medical biologist and hobbyist shark stabber who gets her jollies sticking oversized needles into shark’s brains in order to suck out special enzymes that can help cure Alzheimer’s.
Naughty, naughty, naughty, Dr. Hotty. Sharkies no like the brain pan sticky-wicky.
In her free time, Bad Girl also enjoys sunsets, flouncing around in wetsuits, and breaking all the science rules, or at least the ones involving genetically enlarging shark brains to make them produce even more disease-battling mind juice.
Apparently, that’s illegal. Or at least highly frowned upon. And, as we come to find out later, not really in humanity’s best interests.
Seems all that gene juggling has an unexpected side effect: the shark subjects become super smart and, sick of being cooped up and periodically stuck with needles, band together to try and figure a way out…
…Ya know, on second thought, this is not at all unexpected. They made the sharks’ brains bigger, for God’s sake! What did they think was gonna happen??!!
The Rest of It:
A huge tropical storm is barreling down on Action Jackson’s research station and shark prison out in the middle of nowhere. Most of the crew of said station are departing for the weekend, leaving just a skeleton crew behind to keep an eye on the sharks.
Remind you of the Jurassic Park set-up? Yeah, me too.
Surprisingly, despite the size and purported ferocity of the approaching storm, no one seems all that worried about staying behind. ‘Cause what could go wrong, right? I mean, everyone knows that big storm + shark experiments + underwater lab and empty ocean = good times.
Anyway, blithely ignorant of their impending doom, Action Jackson and Dr. McLegester set off on a quick tour of the facility. Through a serious of rapid-fire introductions to the shark bait, er, I mean, nerds (a whole colony of them who might as well be decked out in red shirts with the words ‘I Am Chum’ emblazoned on the chest) and cool guys (Aaron Janehart the Shark Wrangler, who actually calls himself a shark wrangler, and Chef Preacher, whom we’ve already established as having the worst and laziest movie character name ever), we clearly establish that:
- Everyone hates Action Jackson for no apparent reason other than he’s rich and dresses like a Yale polo player,
- Her Leggyness is both a snob and a stone-cold bitch, and
- The sharks here are not nice. I’m not sure why they would be considering they’re prison sharks, but—How not nice, you ask? Well, apparently they eat each other. And only each other. Except when they’re eating people. But that comes later. Well, sooner than later, but you get the point.
Ahem. Right. So, the storm closes in and things start to go bad. Seems the sharks get testy when the weather turns. Either that or they’re sick of Shark Boy Janehart swimming around their prison pens all the time.
Which he does. Frequently. Because he’s a manly man, and ain’t no shark nowhere gonna tell Jane Wrangler where to swim. Also, one of the sharks requires some impromptu dentistry to remove a license plate stuck in its teeth (that’s another Jaws reference, in case you missed it), so of course he just has to jump in with it, ‘cause how the hell else are ya gonna do it, right?
Once Bathing Beauty’s done showing off, he dopes a shark down and places it on a special underwater freighter elevator kinda thing so Mistress Saffron can haul it in for a quick brain pick and snatch some protein goo. Unfortunately, Sharky’s not quite under and decides to separate Dr. Whitlock (AKA, Skarsgard the Wind Pisser) from one of his arms. I like to think it’s because the good doctor is smoking and SharkyKins was just looking out for his health.
What? It’s plausible.
Good intentions or not, Jane Wrangler gets pissed—I’m guessing because all that blood really messed up the lab’s floors—and grabs an elephant gun to shoot SharkyKins and teach it a lesson about manners. Unfortunately, Dr. HotPants intervenes before he can pull the trigger, dumping Sharky back in the water.
Evidently she’s one of those new wave parents that believes in free range child rearing. Either that or she just wants to preserve its precious, precious brain.
Oh, did I mention her father has Alzheimer’s? Yeah. He does. So maybe that’s it. Or maybe she just doesn’t like people? Well, people other than her dad, of course, since she just—
But I digress…
Despite the storm, the research station crew call in a chopper to haul Doc OneArm out, loading him onto a litter the helicopter slowly hauls up.
You can see where this is going, right? Sure you do. You’re smart.
Halfway up, the winching mechanism suffers a ‘mysterious mechanical malfunction’ and suddenly lets go. Skarsgard the One Armed Bandit plummets to the water—still strapped in his litter, conveniently with a little air canister plugged into his mouth—and disappears into the depths of the shark pen.
No big deal, right? They hooked Wind Pisser up with that air bottle so he’ll be fine for the few seconds it takes to haul him back out?
Nope. Snagged by a shark. Better yet, hauled around by a shark like some kind of chew toy, which means that, since the cable attached to the litter is still attached to the helicopter, the chopper gets hauled around as well.
Right into the research station, exploding in dramatic fashion when it slams into a metal prison tower thingy sticking up above the surface.
Uh-oh, folks. Shit just got real.
Despite the above-water flambé-orie, and being munched by a prison shark, and being used as a helicopter towing hitch, Old Doc OneArm is somehow magically alive. Well, alive enough to do that underwater bubble screaming thing when SharkyKins launches him toward an underwater viewing window to break the glass.
For the record, I am extremely dubious about the potentiality of this outcome. I mean, I’m not physics major, but seven eights of a doctor strapped to a litter thrown underwater against a heavily reinforced pane of glass? Seriously? I’m supposed to believe that would actually break it? Yeah, that’s either some really crap manufacturing or an extremely long stretch of the imagination.
Bad physics or not, SharkyKins deploys his flesh rammer and busts out the station’s glass. In rushes an entire ocean—okay, maybe not an entire ocean, but a crap ton of really cold water—that quickly fills the experimentation room on the other side. A room where everyone we just saw up on the surface (except for Chef Preacher, he mostly doesn’t leave his kitchen) just happens to be gathered.
Okay, so blah-blah-blah, water pouring in, everyone flees screaming, seal the room up after them to save the station.
Probably. Maybe. Okay, they’re totally screwed because the research station was designed to sit in water, not be filled with water. (Nerd Rapaport explains this to us at some point because—uh-duh!—none of us would otherwise be able to figure out that flooding is a bad thing.) Plans to climb up to the surface an escape the probably, maybe, totally sinking station are foiled by flooded stairwells (another casually tossed out declaration), but Nerd Rapaport reminds them they have a mini sub on the lowest level, so they all decided to blithely go deeper into this probably, maybe, totally sinking science station and hop a ride on the Magical Mystery Sub.
Simple, right? Down is easy, up is hard? Well, yeah actually. But when our hopeless troupe of intrepid heroes finally hits rock bottom, they find to their dismay that someone or something (The explosion? A shake? Who the hell knows) beat them there and wrecked their ride.
Darn shuckers. What to do, what to do?
Well, if you’re a shark, you pop out of the water all unexpected like (well, except for the fact that Jane Wrangler specifically warned people not to get too close to the water) and make yourself a Sam sandwich (RIP Action Jackson). If you’re everyone else, you basically freak out.
With water pouring in and the lab structure even more probably, maybe, definitely starting to fail, the survivors decide to make a run for it, using a ladderway in a partially flooded maintenance shaft to climb their way to the surface.
By the way, I have no idea why they didn’t do this earlier. I think Nerd Engineer Rapaport provides some lame explanation for the obvious plot hole before they all pile and there was something about blah-blah-blah, danger, we all might die before we reach the surface, but whatever. Sloppy. Oh, and did I mention there’s a shark trying to bust in the door to the maintenance shaft and swim after them?
Yeah, there is one. They do that in this movie. A lot. Evidently a shark ram is stronger than reinforced steel. Or reinforced windows. Or pretty much everything on this station that’s reinforced because, apparently, the engineers that designed the place didn’t spec it out to survive a shark pounding.
<Mind out of the gutter, Lilyn.>
Right, back to the maintenance shaft. The shark, being invincible and a real pro at ramming, eventually busts down the door and (through a series of nonsensical mishaps) chomps down one of the red-shirted ensigns.
I mean, nerds. Scientists. Whatever.
Jane Wrangler, Dr. Hotness, and LL Cool Chef aren’t dead yet, and Nerd Engineer Rapaport is somehow managing to hang on, but after an impressive run and making it over an hour into the movie, it’s finally time for Janice Higgins (AKA, token less attractive female) to go to the big shark tank in the sky. Their female quota now reduced by 50% (resulting in a proportional increase in sausage-fest density), everyone pauses for a brief—very brief, extremely brief—moment of mourning before moving on.
Finally, finally our (not quite) heroes are finally reunited with ChefChef Cool J—a badass pancake flipped who’s been running around on his own chasing his beloved parrot.
Anywho, despite being on his own, LL Chef J actually managed to kill a shark (not the helicopter dragging shark, another one—all three of them are loose inside the research station, apparently) using nothing but a lighter and the propane from an oven.
Sound familiar? Yeah, pretty sure one of the Jaws sharks went out in similar fashion. Also there’s a scene where LL’s trapped in an oven that reminds me of the kitchen scene in Jurassic Park. Also, also, Chef J actually came up with the idea of using the oven as an incendiary bomb while trapped inside it with the shark trying to get in.
Unsuccessfully, I might add. Not for lack of trying, mind you. Forget poking, forget a polite little love tap. That shark pounded at that hit box. Pounded, and pounded, and pounded searching for some way, any way into LL’s bun baker, and yet somehow never managed to get. Weird, huh? Considering that same shark (or one just like it) managed plow it’s way through those reinforced doors earlier.
Oven engineers accounted for shark ramming in their schematics, I guess. Unlike those crap research station designers. Probably wouldn’t recognize a good pounding if it jumped up and—
What’s that? Oh. Right.
Erstwhile, something-something-something, and Jane Wrangler and Nerd Rapaport head off to power up some system, for some reason, mostly as an opportunity to pare down the cast a little more. In an (un)surprising twist everyone saw coming, SharkyKins (or maybe its SharkyKins Junior) turns RapaNerd into a manwich, leaving JaneHart to swim for his life.
Elsewhere, Dr. Hotness is on the hunt for her precious, precious brain data, because of course she can’t leave without that. Drawn by boobies, SharkyKins (the other SharkyKins, the one not snackin’ on RapaNerd) corners her in a half-flooded room, leaving the long-legged doctor no choice but to strip down to her bra and panties and electrocute it.
(Sound familiar? Yeah, the shark in Jaws II went down that way).
So, two sharks down, one to go, and just three lab people left: Saffron, LL, and Jane Wrangler.
Finally far enough up in the underwater lab to, I guess, actually do something, they flood a compartment, escape through a hatch, launch a couple of rigged-up fire extinguishers to confuse the pursuing shark, and make their escape to the surface. But the shark is on to them, and after a brief bit of play time with the fire extinguisher, nips in and grabs LL by the leg.
RIP Cheffy, right? Hell no! He’s got Bravest-Brave Jane Wrangler looking out for him, and ain’t no one gonna die on his watch.
Except Dr. Wind Pisser. And Nerd Rapaport. Action Jackson, that chick in the maintenance shaft who no one really got to know…
Okay, so a few people died on his watch, but not LL Cool Chef. This brutha-man’s gonna make it! While Dr. Hotness makes a swim for it (selfishly thinking only of her hot, hot self), Jane Wrangler stabby-stabs the shark, drags Chef J free, and hauls him up onto the sinking surface of the collapsing rig.
Finally they’re safe. Everyone can breathe easy and—crap! The shark’s still there, circling round and round like some kind of…of…well trained porpoise or something, waiting patiently for the station to sink enough that it can hop on up and get itself a snack. Or three.
So, they’re doomed, obviously. Game over. Time to just curl up in a ball and—what’s this??!! Jane Wrangler’s got a gun??!!
Hell yeah! Now we’re talkin’! And not just any gun—a harpoon, spear rifle thingy backed up with a high school equivalency degree’s understanding of The Science, which he’s just smart enough to know that if he attaches the trailing end of the harpoon’s cable to a conveniently handy battery (amazing how both hun and battery just happen to be lying around), that shark out there will somehow go boom.
Only one problem: Sharky’s not clued into the plan. It’s also smart enough to recognize a gun when it sees it and decides to make a run for the border rather than risk getting shot.
Curses! Foiled again!
Or not! In a stroke of deluded lunacy, Dr. Hotness foregoes the time tested bra and panties booty call shark attraction method (which we saw her use so effectively earlier) and go with a little blood.
Her own blood, dripping saltily from her slashed open palm.
Why do people always cut their hands open in movies? There are much better places to get blood from…
Okay, so Legs is bleeding like a stuck pig and, despite being a supposedly brilliant scientist and cold as ice-ice baby bitch, decides the smart thing to do is jump in the water and use herself as bait to lure the shark close.
Her plan works perfectly. Sort of. Considering Boobity gets well and truly munched for her trouble.
Unexpected, right?! The hot girl always makes it through.
Evidently, that’s what Jane Wrangler’s thinking as well, because the dumbass ditches his gun to jump in after her, leaving LL (who’s amazingly still alive) to light that harpoon cannon and do a little shark tappin’. Chef style.
Predictably, it all goes wrong and Chef J ends up shooting both Shark and Wrangler, pinning man to beast. Fortunately, the shark makes a run for the fence and knocks Wrangler loose in the process, so when LL attaches the harpoon wire to the battery, Shark #3 blows up in a mushroom cloud of fountaining death and fish-flavored slurry without so much as mussing Aaron Janehart’s hair.
Huh. Guess Momma really did say knock you out…
- Bad Moving Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Regular Movie Rating: 3 (out of 5)
[Regarding the last shark]
Dr. Susan McCallister: We have to kill her.
Carter Blake: That’s the smartest thing you’ve said all day.
Russell Franklin: Was that a goddamn shark broke through that door?
Carter Blake: I expect so.
Russell Franklin: You expect so? Huh. Well, well, well. Am I the only asshole down here who thinks that a tad bit odd?
Russell Franklin: It can do that? Bust through a steel door?
Wrangler: Exactly how many sticks of dynamite do you have to set off in your ears before your brain clears?
Saffron: You wouldn’t understand.
Preacher: You’re the guy that got caught in that avalanche, right?
Russell Franklin: Yeah, I’m the one.
Preacher: Like black men don’t have enough ways to get killed without climbing up some stupid ass mountain in the middle of God’s nowhere! You leave that to the white folks! Brother!