Deep Blue Sea

Somewhere someone, most likely after the success of Anaconda, decided that the world was once again hungry for movies in which bands of people battle ferocious, gigantic animals, the likes of which have barely been seen since the heyday of late-'70s Jaws ripoffs. Following on the heels of the inexcusable Lake Placid comes Deep Blue Sea, in which, two decades on, the entire cycle of films comes full circle by focusing once again on killer sharks. This time, it's not just any ordinary sharks, mind you, but genetically altered, super-intelligent sharks. It's every bit as silly as it sounds, sillier really, but with a hit-hungry Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cutthroat Island, The Long Kiss Goodnight) directing and a cast that includes Michael Rappaport, Samuel L. Jackson, and LL Cool J, it's not unfair to hope for a guiltily entertaining movie about super-intelligent killer sharks. Anyone holding their breath can let go of that hope: Deep Blue Sea, a sort of cross between Aliens (without the thrills) and The Poseidon Adventure (without the camp compensations), doesn't deliver the killer-shark-versus-A-list-character-actor thrills you crave. Harlin deserves credit for making some (but by no means all) of the film's action setpieces exciting, while the script (by first-timers Duncan Kennedy and Wayne and Donna Powers) delivers a few unexpected shocks, killing off unlikely characters at unanticipated moments. But it could be that the film merely has as much contempt for its characters as it knows its audience will. If that's the case, Harlin and associates should also have anticipated just how much contempt the film itself could generate, with its ridiculous plot and bad dialogue—rapper turned bad-horror-movie comic relief LL Cool J is forced to play most of his scenes with a foul-mouthed bird—hardly overshadowed by the antics of cartoon sharks who look like distant cousins of Jabberjaw.

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