Deep Blue Sea has no qualms about anyone feeling the bite of its hyper-intelligent sharks. It doesn’t matter how high you rank on the cast roster, you still don’t stand a chance. From the sympathetic people, to the villains, to all in-between, they all get picked off. It leaves the game of “who will make it out” a constant switcher.
The film has no barriers, nowhere it won’t go, and no absurdity it won’t topple. Mayhem starts in the underwater research lab Aquatica (which sounds more like an aquarium theme park) when one of the three sharks snags a helicopter tow line, drags it forward, causing the chopper to smash into the communications tower above. That’s awesome.
These fish are one step shy of the raptors from Jurassic Park, and that’s only because they don’t have hands to open doors. In this instance, they use their raw brute strength, defying all of creation by swimming backwards and getting a full head of steam to smash through and snag some prey.
This is a loud, active film, beginning with a predictable “teens out in the water” approach before moving into exposition, and then sheer insanity. This one just keeps going, one shark assault after another, each defying more logic than the last, and having a blast doing it. There is such an energy at work here, solidifying its action status more so than others that contain stars of the genre.
No one will claim the ridiculous CG effects on display here are anything other than sub-par, some of the deaths bending even the credibility of a killer, genetically altered shark movie. Regardless, watching people get chomped in half remains hilariously goofy fun, and it all feeds off the momentum Deep Blue Sea establishes once past the stuff no one really cares about it. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Director Renny Harlin shoots the film tightly, remaining heavy on the close-ups to the benefit of this Blu-ray. Warner’s VC-1 encode falls flat as far as distance is concerned, poorly resolving anything of note when the camera stays back. These shots are soft, even a bit compressed and processed. It’s that digital look that remains prominent with many Warner efforts, readily apparent as the team waits for Blake (Thomas Jane) to capture one of the sharks for experimentation. Grain is also slightly noisy, a bit blotchy when combined with other complex imagery, and again, it’s noticeable when the photography moves back.
Thankfully, the majority of those shots are the exception, and facial close-ups are simply stunning. The level of texture on display here is mesmerizing, continually increasing as the film moves on and characters begin sweating profusely (and get wet). Beads of water/perspiration become wholly defined, resolved, and remarkably crisp. Any of the already stunning focused shots earlier are dwarfed by what is to come later, the third act especially. It’s all of the characters too, from Thomas Jane at 1:07:25, to Saffron Burrows at 48:38. It’s not perfect, as some of the facial detail can be slightly lackluster, yet even then pores and such remain visible, if not fully refined.
Beyond the animated sharks, the underwater photography can be sharply defined as well. Objects floating by, sunken electronics, and other equipment look excellent. Sure, it carries a bit of a haze by default. Still, detail remains, a great film stock and excellent source at work to produce some startling imagery.
Colors are ramped up over the (very) early DVD release, spectacularly vivid in the opening boat sequence. The bronzed tans of the partying teenagers a bit unnatural for sure, the warmer tint of everything else simply eye candy. Black remain incredibly rich and consistent, unfortunately leveling off on the deep end which leads to some significant crush that robs the image of its shadow detail. It’s flawed, although a step up from the likely expectation for a likely forgotten catalog title from 1999. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
The subwoofer gets a hefty workout here, right from the opening sequence as the boat is assaulted. What starts as a couple of small thumps on the underside becomes a heavy, powerful jolt as the shark breaks through. The clarity of the splintering wood and the tightness of the bass is just a wonderful opening.
Things truly pick up as the crew moves topside in the hurricane, powerful winds spreading around the soundfield with incredible aggressiveness at 36:10, going along with the downpour of rain and kicked-up waves. The intensity of the sequence is stunning, a reference quality surround experience topped by a killer (literally) explosion that is monumental in scope, this mix capturing the size of the moment.
As water begins rushing into the halls of the science station, the rears never stop, aided by a powerful front sound stage that utilizes the stereos flawlessly. Everything doesn’t quite carry the same levels of deep, rich bass, an explosion inside caused by a stove flatter than the rest. That’s made up for in the finale, with a final push into the low-end that is as flawless as they come, with the tightness and power that uncompressed audio can provide. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
All extras carry over from the DVD edition, including a commentary from Samuel L. Jackson and Renny Harlin. Two featurettes, the promo When Sharks Attack (15:02) now ancient relic from the early days of DVD, followed by a better if still dated Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea that focuses on the effects. Deleted scenes offer an optional commentary, although these are so compressed it’s almost impossible to see what’s happening. A trailer remains. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]