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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 53:13)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 5 Deleted scenes - With commentary by Renny Harlin
  • Theatrical trailer - 2.35:1 widescreen, Dolby Stereo
  • Audio commentary - With Renny Harlin and Samuel L. Jackson
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Awards/Nominations - 15m,

Deep Blue Sea

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

A couple of years ago I coined a term: Anacondia - the uncontrollable desire to see a film you know is probably going to be terrible. A few months ago I was hit with anacondia bigtime, when the trailer for Deep Blue Sea began screening in theatres. On the opening night I switched my brain off, laughed a lot and basically had a blast.

Now that the film's on DVD I'm happy to say that it's still great entertainment. Notice I didn't say 'art' - director Renny Harlin has no auteur pretensions, he's simply out to give the audience a rollercoaster ride worth every cent of their admission.

The plot concerns a research scientist (the tasty Saffron Burrows) who is attempting to discover a cure for Alzheimer's by genetically mutating mako sharks. When one of the creatures somehow escapes, the money man from the sponsoring corporation (Samuel L. Jackson playing the straightman) flies out to look over the research facility.

He reaches the floating station Aquatica and meets its ragtag crew, Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), Tom Scoggins (Michael Rapaport), Janice Higgins (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard), just as they are beginning to realise that the modifications being performed on the sharks is increasing their intellect. When Whitlock is injured (understatement!) by a shark during an experiment, a helicopter crew is flown out from the mainland during a very heavy storm. Things go rapidly downhill from there, and as Samuel L. Jackson put it, the cast weren't dry from that moment on.

You really have to suspend disbelief completely during the film, as there's several huge plot flaws (such as sharks miraculously understanding what a closed-circuit camera does, and the internal layout of a building they've never seen!), and Harlin reveals that much of the character development was cut out during the editing stages, which reduce the characters to cardboard cutouts, and the film to a fever-pitched action blast rather than the horror film Harlin claims he's created.

Ignore any suggestion of this being a horror (it's no more frightening than Jurassic Park) ignore the often fake-looking sharks, go with the flow and you'll have a whale of a time. Enough puns for you?

  Video
Contract

This is a reference quality disc. Village Roadshow give us another visual feast on the same level as their excellent treatment of The Matrix. The black levels on this disc are excellent, really using the full contrast ratio that PAL DVD offers. Match this up with excellent sharpness, flawless colour saturation that faithfully matches the theatrical presentation, no video noise and virtually no film grain, and you've got one of the best Region 4 titles I've seen so far. Furthermore, the transfer has been achieved without any noticeable edge enhancement. Detail is still easily made out, but there's no nasty ringing around edges.

Of course, with such wonderful detail, the all-too-obviously fake CGI sharks become that much more apparent. Several shots that should look frightening don't really work because the colours don't quite match up between the CGI and the background plates.

  Audio
Contract

In a word, stunning. One of the best soundtracks I've heard so far, this disc will stress every aspect of your system! If it can't provide high level bass, you'll certainly know it when Aquatica explodes! If it's control and delicacy at fault, you'll miss subtle surround information. Whatever you're looking for, this soundtrack has it, from absolutely monster bass to aggressive surround presence, to reference quality music recording.

The soundtrack is even more impressive when you consider that most of the sets were constructed to sink, so the onset sound was unusable because of the sound of hydraulic machinery. To have a soundtrack constructed mostly from sound effects and dialogue recorded after the fact still sound so natural is extremely impressive.

The audio is perfectly smooth at cinema reference level, just be aware that you will need a very good system to handle the extreme sound pressure levels. My system wasn't taxed, but I was! The explosions in Chapter 12 were physically pushing me back into my chair! Even the new Dolby Digital logo has some serious trouserleg-waggling ability.

  Extras
Contract

As far as I can tell, the extras are identical to those on the Region 1 disc, and comprise the following:

  • Animated menus - fairly slick.
  • Running commentary - with Samuel L. Jackson (who doesn't stick around the whole way) and Renny Harlin. Jackson is a lot of fun, very entertaining, Harlin explains the technical aspects, but unfortunately they weren't recorded together, so there's no verbal interplay.
  • Featurette - "When Sharks Attack!", a fairly standard 15min promo for the film.
  • Featurette - "Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea", an 8min examination of Walt Conti's 8000 pound animatronic sharks.
  • Deleted scenes - 5 in all, with selectable commentary by Harlin, which add needed depth to the characters, especially McKenzie's character which is severely underused in the film.
  • Theatrical trailer - running 2min 15sec, in 2.35:1 widescreen Dolby Surround.
  • DVD ROM bonuses - essentially just a link to the Deep Blue Sea website. The PC I watch DVDs on doesn't have net access at the moment, but you obviously do, so go there and check it out yourself!

  Overall  
Contract

Yes, it's stupid, but as a no-brains-allowed romp or as a demo disc par excellence, this film can't disappoint. Highly recommended.


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