Deep Blue Sea review (Blu-ray)

Deep Blue Sea is one of those films that I originally detested, but has since grown on me. Then again, I was ten when I first saw it on a pay-per-view channel in a hotel room. Back then, I don't think that I could quite appreciate the tone of the film. I'm a lifelong fan of Jaws – it's my all-time favourite movie – so I was a little too quick after viewing to dismiss it as an extremely sour copycat. But again, I was just ten.

Having seen the film a number of times since on TV, DVD, and now in all its high definition glory on Blu-ray, I've come to appreciate it and enjoy its merits, because it is far from a fruitless piece. In recent years I've admired Renny Harlin more and more as a director. He has come under fire in the past for his work, but I find him to be terrific genre director. He knows how to make an action movie. While I will agree that his career has been largely hit and miss, he has proven his talents with the likes of The Long Kiss Goodnight, last year's 12 Rounds, the splendid Die Hard 2, and yes, Deep Blue Sea. Being at the helm of an action movie and putting together actually coherent scenes of destruction is by no means an easy task, and Harlin exceeds at it. A certain few film-makers could learn a thing or two from him – I'm looking at you, Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich.

The film follows a team of researchers far out at sea on Aquatica, a marine facility built for experimentation on sharks in a bid to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately for those on board, the mixing of human DNA with the brains of three mako sharks makes for uber-smart, ultra-hungry predators, and soon enough Aquatica is broken down, flooded and swarming with the super-sharks. Que plenty of fireballs, mass destruction, dodgy CGI, and some exceptional animatronics. Yes, the digital sharks look horribly dated, but the practical maneaters, built by the same man behind the killer whale in Free Willy and the anaconda in... Anaconda, are pretty damn realistic.

Now, as it is a sharks-wreaking-havoc flick, it just has to be compared to the masterpiece that is Jaws, but as films in the creature feature sub-genre go, Deep Blue Sea really is its own movie. It throws in a couple of homages to the original summer blockbuster, takes a completely different direction, and doesn't even feature any Great Whites.

Aside from the mad science that makes the film look, to be blunt, dumb rather than in any way intelligent, Deep Blue Sea contains a mishmash of performances that range from a very wooden Thomas Jane, downright awful Saffron Burrows, and a strangely good LL Cool J. And who could forget the brilliant MacGuffin that is Samuel L. Jackson's gory demise? But as mindless as it all is, it's a marvelous bit of fun. Scientists playing tag with killer sharks? Count me in, and especially on Blu-ray, where the underwater carnage looks as fresh as a drowned daisy. And by that I simply mean bloody good.

EXTRAS ??? When Sharks Attack: The Making of Deep Blue Sea; Sharks of the Deep Blue Sea: a look at the animatronic sharks used in the film; feature-length commentary with director Renny Harlin and Samuel L. Jackson; theatrical trailer; and eight minutes worth of deleted scenes with optional audio commentary with Harlin.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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