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Talk about your fish tales...

DEEP BLUE SEA ($25) is the kind of movie that can be a whole lot of fun if the viewer is willing to check their brain at the door before popping the DVD into their player. Combining elements of sci-fi and horror with a huge dose of action and state-of-the-art special effects, DEEP BLUE SEA is a typical Hollywood thrill ride designed for mass consumption. Since I have a weakness for fast moving popcorn movies that don't give the viewer much time to examine the flaws in the plot, I found DEEP BLUE SEA to be the perfect movie for a rainy Saturday afternoon when one wants nothing more than mindless entertainment from a slickly produced DVD.

The plot of DEEP BLUE SEA concerns an underwater research laboratory where scientists are conducting experiments on the brains of sharks. Since sharks never get cancer or diseases like degenerative neurological disorders, the scientists in the film theorize that the proteins produced in their brains would be the perfect catalyst to reverse the effects of Alzheimer disease in humans. Of course, harvesting enough of the protein to make such a venture worthwhile requires that the size of the shark's brains be increased. Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a bigger brain equals higher intelligence, but then again, the scientist in this movie don't figure it out until they find themselves on the "smart" shark's dinner menu. DEEP BLUE SEA features fantastic mechanical and CGI sharks that make every attack totally realistic. Director Renny Harlin ekes every last bit of suspense out of the material, in addition to keeping all the action moving at a breakneck pace.

DEEP BLUE SEA also features a good cast that delivers solid performances, which really sells the material. Saffron Burrows is perfect as the icy, but beautiful, scientist who has allowed her dedication to her research to blind her to everything else. Samuel L. Jackson could have just gone through the motions with his portrayal of an industrialist checking on his investment when all hell breaks lose. However, Jackson is a consummate professional who puts his heart into his role. Stellan Skarsgård never delivers a bad performance and here he actually seems to be enjoying the role of a scientist who doesn't mind screwing with the natural order of things. LL Cool J supplies some comic relief as the research laboratory's cook, who finds himself in the unexpected position of swimming with sharks. The cast of DEEP BLUE SEA also includes Thomas Jane, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Rapaport, and Aida Turturro. Look for Ronny Cox in a very brief cameo.

Warner Home Video really delivers the goods with their DVD edition of DEEP BLUE SEA. The 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation looks absolutely smashing and restores the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. While the image quality may fall a few hairs below that of the finest DVDs on the market, DEEP BLUE SEA still rates as demo disc. The image is clean and very well defined, with excellent shadow detail and a fully realized black level. Colors are vibrant and reproduced without any signs of chroma noise or bleeding. Additionally, flesh tones appear quite natural under a number of lighting situations. Digital compression artifacts are virtually undetectable on this smartly authored dual layer DVD.

DEEP BLUE SEA features a kick-ass Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix that is going to put your sound system through its paces. Not only do the sound effects jump out at you from all of the five discrete channels, the mix creates a cohesive sound field that envelops the viewer in the world of DEEP BLUE SEA. There is good channel separation all around, including the use of split surrounds for active effects and ambient sounds. Dialogue reproduction is very good, with all of the actor's voices resonating with a natural timbre. There are moments where the sound effects threaten to overwhelm the dialogue, but fortunately things never get out of control. English subtitles are encoded onto the DVD.

The interactive menus are nicely designed and contain animation, sound and full motion video. Through the menus, one can access the standard scene selection and set up features. Additionally, the DVD's supplements can also be access through the menu system. Supplements include an audio commentary with director Renny Harlin and actor Samuel L. Jackson. The commentary seems to have been edited together from two separate recording sessions. Both men impart a good deal of information about the production of DEEP BLUE SEA, although Harlin is more serious about the film than Jackson, who seems to be having a good old time. The DVD also includes two documentaries; When Sharks Attack: The Making Of Deep Blue Sea takes a look behind-the-scenes and includes interviews with cast and crewmembers, while The Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea looks at the real and not-so-real sharks from the movie. There are five deleted scenes on the DVD that also include an audio commentary with Renny Harlin, who explains where the scenes would have fit into the film and why they were cut. The DVD also features a theatrical trailer, a stills gallery and cast biographies/filmographies. DEEP BLUE SEA is also DVD-ROM enabled and utilizes the PC-Friendly interface.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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