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IN SHORT: Smart Sharks. Human sushi. Yum. [Rated [R], 110 minutes]
As far as investment dollars are concerned, this week's wide release of The Blair Witch Project has got the majors running scared. As far as us folk that pay hard earned dollars for thrills and chills, the better investment (as far as Cranky is concerned) is Renny Harlin's Deep Blue Sea. The email that's come in to Cranky indicates folks either adore or detest Witch, with no evident middle ground. Deep Blue Sea, on the other hand, almost requires an extra large popcorn and soda, so that the greasy golden topping stuff can go splattering all over your date when you applaud at the end of the flick. Even if you don't rave, you won't feel cheated by this top notch popcorn flick.
OK, enough preaching. Let's get down to the nitty gritty chomp chomp.
A lovely moonlit night. Two collegiate couples on a sailboat. Girls in bikinis, men pouring wine and a boombox booming out suitably appropriate music. This night was not made for skinny dipping, or anything else previously filmed 20 years ago in Jaws. This time out, it isn't a case of prehistoric killing machine following genetic programming to lunch on human flesh. This time the mako shark, bred in captivity as part of experiments designed to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease, has deliberately attacked. How he escaped from captivity at the Aquatica research lab is unknown. What is known is that, when Wall Street hears the story, prime investor Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) is going to be out $200 million or so. With 48 hours to prove her experiments can keep Franklin out of the poorhouse, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) pushes her research team to the limit.
One thing you should know about the mako. It's fast. It's intelligent and illegal DNA enhancements as part of the experiments have made it even smarter. You know this from the trailer and commercial. What you don't know, yet, is that there are two generations of mako shark resident at Aquatica. Gen-1 tips the scales at an even ton in a fifteen foot package. Gen-2 adds ten feet and three more tons of mean. They hunt in packs. They can swim backwards. They know where all the security cameras are. Just like any prison inmate, they are biding their time, taking stock of the human sushi on the station: shark expert Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), who likes to swim with the beasts; marine biologists Janice Higgins (Jaqueline McKenzie) and love-of-her-life Jim Whitlock (Stellan Skarsgard); engineer Tom Scoggins (Michael Rapaport) and evangelist cook Sherman "Preacher" Dudley (LL Cool J). Pick your favorite and place your bets on who survives.
The gimmick is great: it isn't man hunting shark on the wide open ocean, which is the classic. It's shark hunting man inside all of the security precautions designed to keep man safe and protected from the elements (until a freak accident and a raging storm break those defenses) and from the power of the genetically bred animals (who are a lot stronger than they look). The effects, a combination of animatronics, real footage and CGI look "real" for the most part. The killing effects occur so quickly that there is little time to react with more than shock. These sharks are so big they can swallow their prey whole, so the gore isn't exploited, much.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Deep Blue Sea, he would have paid...
Popcorn flick. pure and simple.
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