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"Far below the South China Sea lies an underwater mountain range with canyons deep enough to hide the Himalayas, deeper than any man or machine has ever explored.  Throughout the centuries, countless vessels have vanished into these waters without a trace.  Their disappearance has remained a mystery."

Yuppieville on the Argonautica.
What a great way to start off a documentary on the mysterious depths of the ocean and the creatures found within. Except that this is, for all intents and purposes, a popcorn movie ... not that you'll be wanting to eat anything once you stumble across the gross-out factor herein.  This is classic camp comedy combined with macho bravado reminiscent of the classic 80s actioners as well as a healthy dose of the horror/thriller genre thrown in for good measure.  The acting is unapologetically rompy at times as well as suitably "freak-me-out" when the squid hits the fan, and even the shoddy one-liners do much to entertain us on this gross-out schlock-fest.

There are many familiar faces in this movie but you'll be scratching your head right down to the skullbone working out where on earth they came from ... so I'll give you a few pointers.  First up is Treat Williams [The Phantom] as the captain of his proud little aqua-runabout, who is also a great dry-witted comedian that doesn't have to make any effort to be funny (the best kind in my opinion).  Next is the ever-loverly Famke Janssen [Goldeneye and X-Men] who plays an elegant and worldly pickpocket (who can rock my boat anyday).  Kevin O'Connor [Beni in The Mummy] portrays the most typecast character ever, the irritating comic relief.  Dennis O'Connor (not sure if he's related to Kevin) is the Captain of the Argonautica [the South African heavy in Lethal Weapon 2].  And finally, Jason Flemyng [the skinny-fat guy in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels] and Trevor Goddard [Kano in Mortal Kombat] are two of the ill-fated mercenaries pitted against this steroid-enhanced octopus.

"Boy, the maid's gonna be pissed."
And if you've ever wanted to see a shipload of yuppies bite the dust, then this is the movie for you ... although when you finally work out what actually happened to them you might start using the popcorn bucket in your lap as a vomit-bag (and end up spilling your drink on the cat, too).

Movie
A crew of three on a high-powered speedboat are hired to transport a bunch of macho-mercenaries who are on their way to the middle of nowhere at sea, carrying a cargo of torpedoes and some wicked assault rifles (with water-cooled rotating-barrels of course) and about to board a multi-million dollar luxury cruise-liner - but why? Those questions are soon the least of their worries when they discover what is onboard that ship - and it ain't human!  With only a handful of survivors still remaining they proceed to reveal the unbelievable goings-on before the gun-toting bandits arrived ... which basically involves the presence of "some kind of strange offshoot of the Archaea Ottoia family" ("Mega-Squid" for those not versed in Latin).

Now everyone finds themselves in a situation that can only be described as pure terror as they struggle to get off the ship in one piece (and with all fluids intact).  When these people come face-to-face with this monster-from-the-deep, I'm sure their first words would be "I feel so insignificant ... still, I always feel insignificant!"

"Ah, the script has arrived."
Video
This is sort of a mixed bag.  By itself, the video quality is quite good with little or no grain, no compression artifacts and deep detailed blacks (which are a must since all but three minutes of this movie is dedicated to nighttime and interior scenes).  However, it is non-anamorphic (unlike the R2 available in the UK for some reason).  Colours lean towards the blue-tinged variety which give the movie its cold brooding feeling of dread and an unusual choice of green for an underwater scene.  The only full saturation of colours occur for the areas that the squid has not ventured into, the explosions and the outdoor finale.  Overall, I was happy with the level of discernable image quality throughout this R1 DVD, but it's lack of anamorphic enhancement will leave some people begging for more (in which case they might consider the R2 DVD instead, but they might change their minds once they read what the audio is like on it).

Audio
Here's another mixed bag.  This is a full-on 5.1 surround sound experience that will help to satisfy the testosterone members of your adult group of friends ... I only say adult because you wouldn't want to show this movie to your kids, unless you want to give them nightmares.  Anyway, the use of explosive split-surround as well as the creepy ambient environments is abundant, with plenty of sub-woofer activity to help fire off those guns with thunderous attitude.  Some may say this soundmix is slightly overdone, but being the "fun" movie that it is, the bigger the better! The dialogue is clear enough but I do tend to pop on the subtitles to catch the odd phrase or two ... still, there's not much talking going on when the characters are pumping lead through the tentacled-beast-from-hell.

"Uh, I'm beginning to think they're not from around here."
The other point to make is that if you want your movies to sound their best, then this R1 DVD is the way to go ... because its R2 counterpart has only been given a paltry 2.0 soundmix, which some reports have noted a substantial drop in high frequency as well as low range sound - which is not so good for this kind of movie. Personally, I haven't heard the R2 English 2.0 mix, but the R1 French 2.0 track is quite good considering.

Extras
Theatrical Trailer, that's it.  Oh, but the R2 version also has a featurette onboard (but the running time is less than the trailer itself, and it mostly contains footage from the movie anyway - whoop-de-shit!)

"Yeah, sure there's something behind me ... pull the other one!"
Summary
This movie is one I keep coming back to again and again.   Not because it has any intelligently crafted characters or storyline, but it's one of those "guilty-pleasure" videos that I dig into when I feel the need to turn the brain off.  You might also need to hold on to your stomach contents as the images portrayed are less than appetising.

Basically, get the R2 for the anamorphic video.  But if you can do without this natty feature for once, then get the R1 instead (for the wild and wooly 5.1 soundtrack).  Unfortunately, there is no R4 DVD available and it will probably never arrive either.

(By the way...and this has nothing to do with this movie...if anyone can count the most number of written references I've made to the "Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Movie" in my review, then you win a cookie!)


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