Deep Blue Sea (1999)

2016 #138
Renny Harlin | 101 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 15 / R

Deep Blue SeaDeep Blue Sea is Terence Davies’ adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s play about the wife of a judge getting caught in a self-destructive love affair with an RAF pilot.

No, wait, sorry — that’s The Deep Blue Sea. The non-definitive-article version is a sci-fi action-thriller about a research facility that’s created hyper-intelligent sharks which escape and try to kill the scientists. So pretty similar movies then, really. This one was thoroughly slated on its initial release, so I spent a good long while completely ignoring it, but at some point in the last few years it seems to have become a guilty pleasure favourite for many. Does it merit this reappraisal?

There is definitely a level of “so bad it’s good” about it. It’s definitely not a good movie in the traditional sense, but it is fun; and unlike, say, Armageddon, it’s clearly not taking itself too seriously. Nicely, it gets by without the constant winks-and-nods at the audience you get in today’s deliberately-trashy genre movies, which is, bizarrely, a more mature way to handle this kind of material.

Plus, it’s from that tipping point in modern film history between practical effects and CGI, so there are some nice stunts and life-size animatronic sharks, but also some weak computer graphics. That said, because director Renny Harlin limits the CG to underwater sequences, some of the sins are covered. Or put another way: it’s not great, but it still looks better than Sharknado. (That might seem like damning with faint praise, but this is 1999 we’re talking about — still two years before The Mummy Returns and its CG The Rock abomination that someone thought was OK to release in a big-budget summer tentpole.)I'm sure he just want to be friends

Ultimately, it’s a hard movie to rate. On the one hand, it’s not particularly good; on the other, with a mix of not taking itself too seriously and a few so-bad-it’s-good moments, it becomes a fun watch. I err towards generosity because, while it’s not a ‘quality’ movie, it is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

3 out of 5

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