Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deep Rising

(1998) ***

Okay, now this is the kind of movie I was hoping for when I watched Leviathan. Not overly clever, but it delivers the goods. Stephen Sommers banged this together a year before he wrote and directed The Mummy, and it's possessed of a lot of his typical ups and downs. The downs? No shyness about hackneyed characters, plots, or CG that looks like CG. The ups? No shortage of gunplay, explosions, and monsters. He's like Michael Bay with a tiny bit more vision and a lot less money.

Treat Williams is our the front man in this catalogue of cliches, and his down side is best demonstrated by what is blantantly held up to be his rather pathetic catch phrase: "Now what?" He runs a no-questions-asked boating service and one night transports a pack of shady characters to a brand-new luxury liner out on its first cruise. But when the mercs bust into the main ballroom expecting to push some people around, it's completely empty. We saw it full of partiers in the first scene, so that's weird. The only people left are the boat's owner (Dr. Chilton from Silence of the Lambs) and Famke Janssen, a would-be jewel thief who was locked in the pantry after being caught. Famke Janssen!

After the environmental blundering of Deep Star Six and the God's domain tampering in Leviathan, I was pretty amped that this movie's plot simply involved a random monster attack. Before too long our plucky band are dodging encounters with these toothy tentacle things...

When they hear something that sounds delicious, those toothy sections peel back like flower petals to reveal one of these inside.

And the very first time we see one of these things, somebody shoots it open and a screaming, half-digested guy spills out.

So the rules are established fairly quickly, and then it's a race back to Treat's smaller boat while the luxury liner begins to sink. As I said, the tentacles are not the most convincing CG special effect you've ever seen, but they move fast and furious and you're made to feel that they have considerable weight behind them. After the ridiculous non-efforts of Leviathan to show me a monster, this was a profound relief. And there's a payoff to the fact that you never see the back of one of these things like you might an eel; at the middle of them is a big fat one of these.

Deep Rising hasn't a single line of dialogue you haven't heard before, and it makes dozens of obvious moves. There's a comic relief character who just sucks, sucks, sucks. He's kind of like Booger but with a loathsome squeaky speaking manner that's meant to be funny. And he doesn't die. I'm just preparing you.

On the other hand, the monster is great, the action is steady, and there are a couple of original notions that suggest a dash of smarts. For instance, Famke Janssen realizes their situation, and then she immediately exchanges her evening gown for more practical clothes. Also, Famke Janssen is in this movie! The three star rating is worth it, even just for her smile.


JPX said...

Nice review and great photos as always! This sounds like the perfect b-movie balance of cheese and fun. I've never seen this one but based on your review I'll check it out. I like that you reviewed all the Abyss knock-offs this year.

Octopunk said...

I love the matched sets.