Deep Blue Sea PosterTitle: Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Director: Renny Harlin
Runtime: 105 minutes

Story & Script
Two scientists conduct research on sharks, hoping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. When they decide to take a dangerous shortcut, they end up breeding larger sharks with larger brains, and near-human intelligence. And what happens in underwater facilities in the middle of nowhere with hyper-intelligent killing machines? Why, mayhem of course. The sharks begin systematically attacking different parts of the research facility to escape their own imprisonment and eat the humans that have been experimenting on them along the way. This is by no means a smart film. There are smart people in it, kind of, but this is just an excuse to have sharks behaving like your typical movie monster instead of a shark, and for the most part, it works.

Deep Blue Sea actually has a number of actors I really like. Saffron Burrows as the lead scientist is pretty good, but you know from the start that she’s involved in some shady things. Pre-Punisher Thomas Jane is also good. I’d forgotten Stellan Skarsgård was in this, briefly, but the parts where he has dialogue are fun. Samuel L. Jackson’s scenes are, of course, memorable. They don’t have much to work with in this, but what they manage to eke out of a pretty basic script is great. I mean we’re talking about a hyper-intelligent shark attack film here. It falls somewhere between Jaws and Sharknado in terms of quality.

Deep Blue Sea isn’t even close to my favorite Renny Harlin flick. While the script is basic, the practical effects work is on point, and looks great. This being the late-‘90s, though, the CGI effects are way off target. The sharks never look quite right, and the underwater sequences never look like actual underwater scenes look. There are some nice homages to Jaws and its sequels sprinkled throughout, but overall this feels like a strange lovechild of Leviathan, The Poseidon Adventure and a bit of Jaws. There’s room for improvement.

I had not watched this film in years, so coming at it again, I remember thinking the shark effects used to look a lot better. They do have some fun with this and I liked some of the scares quite a bit. The sharks here are violent as hell and looking to cause pain before the kill. It’s a great take on increased intelligence in a killing machine like a shark.

If you can get around the effects kind of being all over the place, and I can, this is definitely rewatchable. I will be putting some distance between viewings, but this would find its way onto my TV, or in this case, my phone, again.

The Verdict
This is a by-the-numbers sci-fi/horror flick much like DeepStar Six or Leviathan, but they change things up enough and pull no punches with the Jaws references throughout, even including the same license plate as they found in the first Jaws film. I ended up liking this one quite a bit. It’s meant to be a violent popcorn ride, and in that end, it succeeds and manages to actually have some decent suspense built into it while it’s at it.