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Deep Blue Sea starts out with the promise of being a reasonably entertaining action/disaster movie. The premise is that on a floating research lab in the middle of the ocean, a bunch of scientists (Saffron Burrows, Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgård, Thomas Jane) are rushing to finish up some experiments that have the potential to create a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The only problem is that the research uses ultra-powerful modified sharks as tissue donors... and these sharks begin to wreak serious havoc, forcing the staff and their visiting executive (Samuel L. Jackson) to struggle just to survive.

Deep Blue Sea
Despite a beginning that suggests a cheesy remake of Jaws, Deep Blue Sea turns out to have a reasonably original setting and premise, more along the lines of “Jaws meets Jurassic Park.” Several well-known actors (Jackson and Skarsgård) round out a reasonably solid cast playing the scientists and staff who are stranded on the research facility.

My initial impression of Deep Blue Sea could be summed up as "well done." There's clearly an experienced hand guiding the cameras, as the cinematography helps to create a definite sense of tension in some scenes. Director Renny Harlin also has a deft hand with pacing, as he keeps Deep Blue Sea moving along at a brisk pace, while throwing in some definite surprises along the way.

The visual effects are probably the strongest element of the film; they’re excellent. The animatronic shark is truly impressive, and the computer-generated sharks used in some sequences are excellent as well, especially considering that it’s very difficult to realistically computer-animate living creatures.

However, the story and screenplay are very weak. It’s clear that Harlin wanted to tap into the modern myth of Frankenstein’s monster, but instead he gets pure Hollywood cliché. If Harlin had managed to maintain an ethical conflict in the film’s premise, the parallel with Frankenstein would have given some depth to the film, but in order to have a conflict, there has to be some recognition of the merits of both sides of an issue. Harlin makes the story one-sided: he wants us to believe that the research (and, by thinly veiled implication, science in general) is evil, pure and simple. Never mind that the treatment would save hundreds of thousands of innocent people from dying a horrible death; never mind that the “fatal flaw” of the research could be solved by better containment facilities for the sharks; never mind any sort of reasoning, in fact.

Deep Blue Sea
I can forgive a lot of silliness in an action movie’s premise by turning off my brain and enjoying the movie for what it is – fluff. But in the case of Deep Blue Sea this isn’t possible, because the moralistic premise is given an a obtrusively religious spin and pushed in the audience’s face. One of the characters is named “Preacher” (L.L. Cool J.), the out-of-control sharks are depicted as divine punishment for scientists having the nerve to meddle with God’s business, the fate of the characters advocates a reliance on faith and prayer, and so on ad nauseum. By the end of the movie, this element was seriously detracting from my enjoyment of Deep Blue Sea.

Deep Blue Sea sinks like a stone to the bottom of the ocean late in the movie, becoming increasingly predictable as the movie draws to a close. The ending had no surprises whatsoever, and it ended up as a disappointing close to a movie that could have been a light but entertaining film.

Deep Blue Sea is a treat for the eyes, if not the brain. The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is very clean, with sharp images and good colors. The contrast is handled well throughout, even in darker scenes.

I must admit that the music score of Deep Blue Sea didn't leave me with any particular admiration for the musical talents of L.L. Cool J., whose songs are featured. On the other hand, the more "classical" shark theme was handled well. Music, effects, and dialogue are pretty well balanced on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Some of the rushing water effects seemed like they were about to fill up the room around me.

Deep Blue Sea
There’s a reasonable amount of special features on this DVD. A 15-minute promotional featurette, “When Sharks Attack!”, gives some background on the making of the movie, though it doesn’t go into much detail. An eight-minute featurette titled “The Sharks of The Deep Blue Sea” is more interesting, as it focuses on the making of the amazing shark effects for the film. Several deleted scenes are included, with director’s commentary, which provides some interesting insights into why the scenes were originally filmed and why they were cut from the final version of the film. The other special features include a commentary track with Renny Harlin and Samuel L. Jackson, production notes, trailer, a photo gallery, and storyboards.

Overall, I’d have to give Deep Blue Sea a fairly negative rating as a movie; it has many of the ingredients for an entertaining action movie, including good cinematography, good actors, and excellent visual effects, but these elements are dragged down by the predictability of the story and the annoying, obtrusive religious message that’s tacked onto the story. It’s been treated well in its transfer to DVD, though.