Glory be to Deep Rising, a giving, caring popcorn creature feature with enough of a body count to conquer even the best slashers (AND their sequels). Out in the South China Sea, they grow these suckers big, scaled enough to scarf down an entire cruise ship worth of overly rich passengers basking in their financial glory. This critter manages to do it all in 20-minutes too, something like 600 people meeting their demise. Odd then that this bugger can’t handle eight or so hijackers once they discover the dead in the water vessel.
Oh how stupid this movie is, but so ingrained in its idiocy that you can’t help but love it. Treat Williams is having a smart assed, sarcastic blast as John Finnegan, captain of the, “If the cash is there, we do not care” piracy ship courting a group of hired guns. They’ll shoot at anything, even the loveable mechanic with high-pitched, whiny voice. Joey (Kevin J. O’Connor) is a low class sidekick in a wonderfully low class film.
Stephen Sommers directs and writes this monster mash, smashing together archetypes doomed the second they appear on screen. Finnegan’s goal is only to get paid and get out, plans that sour as mouthy tentacles sprout from the bowels of the cruise ship his unknown cohorts are raiding. The Argonautica is a dated liner, fitted with “top of the line” CD-ROM security and communication systems (!), plus it’s created almost entirely from CGI. What a refreshing idea.
The monster ravaging this never-bonding group of faces doesn’t necessarily kill you, despite a sharks worth of teeth on each winding tentacle. No, this one drinks you to death, then craps out the bones. It’s all a set-up for the unreal layer of gore laid out across the cargo hold which – dodgy effects or not – is a sight you don’t forget.
All you can do when watching Deep Rising is layer questions, the top one being how this monster manages to prove so squirmy as it pushes through pipes, but goes into super stealth when it wants something classier. You also have to imagine a 100-foot tall critter squeezing each appendage through countless doors, walls, and corridors in search of prey. You’d also suspect that after gorging on 600 high class citizens, it would find this small group rather unappealing.
But, if Deep Rising isn’t going to take any of this seriously, why should you? Treat Williams is probably the closest he ever came to stardom here, and while that doesn’t say much, it’s a character he can bite into. Finnegan treats the situation the same as the audience: total disbelief. By the time the closing chapter rolls in, Finnegan snatches up a jet ski and begins traveling down hallways to build up speed. His escape comes as an explosion punches through the ship, one of those insanely long, scaled pops that only Hollywood can produce. Deep Rising’s memorable fate is sealed with an impossible closing shot that reveals the survivors are not alone, washed up on an unknown island for a sequel we’d never see. Damn.
Mill Creek dumps this late ’90s comedic thrill fest onto Blu-ray in a double pack with The Puppet Masters; one disc, two flicks. That doesn’t give Deep Rising the reverence it so deserves, but let’s go with it. Working from what appears to be at least a somewhat modern master, the issue here lies (unsurprisingly) with the compression and grain structure. They don’t play nice together. There’s a coarse quality to the film stock that wouldn’t be there in a better master or fuller AVC encode.
You’ll also need to come to terms with the black levels, which are fine mind you, but can’t hold firm enough to dodge some pesky noise. It’s particularly bothersome as characters dressed in full gear march down hallways. The motion drags image quality down with it, and splotchy portions of the screen fall apart.
Minor quirks include some underwater banding and overall weak resolution that doesn’t push much in the way of precision in the medium shots. In close, it’s up to the photography which softens up due to the influx of moisture, or simply isn’t afforded the best in lens work by design. Oh well, because there’s enough facial detail passing across the screen to deliver the idea that this is technologically superior to what came before the Blu-ray edition.
Color reaches par, with a dull edge to the flesh tones that isn’t terribly appealing. The gaudy interior of the ship is muted to appear fancier, bright lines of gold trim the highlight. The print used isn’t in the best of shape, riddled with specks, dirt, and scratches. As expected, no one put this through a clean-up pass before releasing it to what is surely an eager public. This is one of the biggest releases of 2012, right?
For years, Deep Rising could be held on a pedestal for its audio performance, one of those discs you’d pop into your Laserdisc or DVD player and immerse listeners in obnoxiously loud 5.1 material. We’ve come a long way.
Deep Rising isn’t bad in the strictest sense of the word. It’s still effective at closing in walls on the characters and scattering gunfire across the soundfield. The issue is that it does without any sense of balance, precision, or fidelity. High screech into the speakers unpleasantly. Real life gun ranges have less chance at damaging your hearing.
If you’re not one to listen in at reference volume, Deep Rising’s DTS-HD mix is still dated, and the bass becomes lost in the mass of sound. There’s no tightness or noticeable power coming from the subwoofer. All of the low-end stuff floats away or gets swallowed by the piercing highs. Unless it’s a dominating element – say the final explosion – those looking for a bit of meat in their mix will be depressed.
Considering this disc for extras would be a mistake; you’ll only get a trailer.
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