Deep Blue Sea
This review is sponsored by
Details At A Glance
||Yes, 1 - 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
||Shortened Dolby Digital Rain
||Yes, 1 - Renny Harlin (Director), Samuel L. Jackson (Actor)
||Menu Audio & Video
Cast & Crew Biographies
Deleted Scenes with and without commentary (8:04)
Featurette - When Sharks Attack! (15:03)
Featurette - The Sharks Of The Deep Blue Sea (8:23)
Cast & Crew
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Samuel L. Jackson
LL Cool J
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 ,
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio
||English For The Hearing Impaired
||Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
I am in two minds about Deep Blue Sea:
the highly intellectual side of my brain labels it as a load of rubbish,
and the entertainment-hungry side of my brain just sits back and enjoys
the ride. On the one hand, I tend to despise any film or other form of
media that goes out of its way to make genetic engineering look like a
bad thing. Polio and measles were once two of the most dreaded diseases
on our planet, and now they are considered things of the past thanks to
a miracle that we call immunisation. Genetic engineering will do the same
thing with diseases and ailments such as diabetes, psoriasis, and bipolar
disorder. Maybe I have a personal view of this situation, but suffering
from two out of those three ailments, as well as knowing some people who
suffer from the other one, tends to make me livid about any time when a
potential cure is made out to be the greatest evil of the Earth. The most
telling moment in this film about where this basis for the film, at least
in this regard, is, is when Preacher (LL Cool J) stabs a shark in
the eye with his crucifix. I could almost clearly envision one revision
of the script with his character screaming "Ha, take that, potential
cure for all that ails mankind!". Seriously, sometimes having an intellectual
quotient that is matched by less than a twentieth of the populace can be
such a bitch when all you want to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy something.
Which brings me to the second part of my mind's assessment of this film.
Although the film frequently reaches into the scientifically impossible
in order to keep itself in motion, once it gets moving, it sets a pace
that doesn't give us a lot of time to consider the inherent impossibilities
of what we're seeing. It can therefore be considered to be entertaining
as long as you don't mind being asked to believe the unbelievable too often.
Having seen this film with my immediate family at the flicks, I was most
keen to get the review assignment for this film. However, Paul
W got there first, which left me flat out of luck as far as getting
a copy before the rest of Australia was concerned. Not being one to let
such a minor loss get in the way of doing my job, however, I thought I
would share my thoughts on the film with you.
The fact that Renny Harlin (whose other credits
include A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Warriors,
or Freddy Goes Commercial, as I like to call it) directed this film explains
a lot about this film and its plot's impact. While this effort is nowhere
near as abominable as his aforementioned debut, there are a lot of moments
when that trademark horror-for-children style threatens to resurface. A
greater director would have fully exploited the darker possibilities of
this story, which would have resulted in a more restrictive rating for
the film. I believe that when you have directed one B-grade and highly
unoriginal horror film, the manner and method with which you did it will
tend to haunt you forever. The film struggles quite hard to assert itself
as a serious action-adventure film, but the obvious commercialization of
the story sinks most of the intellectual appeal of this film. This is a
real pity, because this DVD would have been a Hall
Of Fame shoe-in, and maybe even a new contender for the best of the
best, if it wasn't for the fact that the plot is so inherently stupid.
As it stands, this is definitely high on my list of the ten best releases
for this year in spite of this one factor.
The highly improbable plot revolves around Doctor
Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows, and I also saw her in the utterly
dreadful Wing Commander on the same day that I saw this film
at the flicks). Susan is on a personal quest to find a cure for Alzheimer's
Disease, sparked on by personal tragedy that is brought into the consciousness
of the viewer in a very quick and effective manner, which is the only way
in which this script will ever win any awards. In any case, the potential
cure lies in the brain matter of sharks, who for some reason are ostensibly
immune from the degenerations of the brain that plague the human race.
She is aided in this quest by shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane),
scientist Tom Scoggins (Michael Rapaport), his assistant Janice
Higgins (Jacqueline McKenzie), engineer Jim Whitelock (Stellan
Skarsgard), and the aforementioned chef known in this film as Preacher
(LL Cool J, and where do these rap stars get such stupid names?).
After a boat full of innocent youngsters in an undisclosed location comes
under attack from one of the sharks that have been purpose-bred for this
experiment, the company financing said experiment begins to get nervous
about what it is they are paying for. In a passionate plea, Susan asks
that she and her crew be given another forty-eight hours to demonstrate
that they are producing results of a viable and dramatic nature. The company's
chief, Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson), agrees to this arrangement,
mainly because he is not fully aware of how much tampering with the sharks
has been done to accomplish the results. This is where the plot holes start
to come so thick and fast that even people who thought Jaws was
believable will notice them. I know that movies aren't supposed to be scientifically
plausible, but more brain tissue does not equal more intelligence. It's
a similar equasion to processing units: bigger processing units do not
equate to better operation, especially if you use a Microsoft product to
operate them. If you can separate your sense of disbelief from your sense
of pleasure, then you will enjoy Deep Blue Sea.
Roadshow Home Entertainment have been accused of doing some nasty
things with their video transfers, but this is definitely a shining example
of one having been done the right way. The transfer is presented at an
aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with beautiful 16x9 Enhancement, a feature
that I simply could not imagine this transfer without. Surprisingly, this
is actually a slightly narrower ratio than the theatrical exhibition, at
least according to some reports (I seriously wouldn't be able to tell a
.05 difference in ratio if it fell on me). Whether picture information
has been lopped off the sides, or the information available to us on the
original theatrical aspect ratio is erroneous, is a matter I leave up to
the reader. The transfer is razor-sharp from beginning to end, with every
detail being consistently rendered in the same way as it was during the
theatrical exhibition. Shadow detail was absolutely perfect, even in the
underwater scenes, which account for a surprisingly high amount of the
film. Similarly, there was not a hint of low-level noise, and Village didn't
even resort to using edge-enhancement at any point in the film. The colours
were perfectly rendered, with not a hint of bleeding or cross-colouration.
MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the transfer,
which is reflective of the consistently high bit-rate, and it is another
credit to whomever is in charge of DVD transfers at Roadshow Home Entertainment. Film-to-video
artefacts were minimal at the very worst of times, and there was no telecine
wobble at all, which indicates how much care was taken in the transfer
process. There were very few instances of aliasing, and these instances
were so small that they mostly escaped detection on my setup. Film artefacts
were rather rare, with just a handful of white flecks noticed here and
there. The only noticeable giveaway that this film had touched celluoid
before arriving on our beloved format was the presence of some specks of
water on the lens showing up in the final image about eighty or so minutes
into the film.
There is only one subtitle track on this DVD: English
for the Hearing Impaired, which really has little annotation for the benefit
of the hearing impaired, anyway. Normally, I would call for Village to
provide us with more, but given that their earlier titles didn't have any
at all (Wild Things being
a good example), and this film needs as much space to breathe as possible,
I'll let this one pass.
This disc is presented in the RSDL
format, with the layer change coming in at 53:13.
This layer change quite literally sticks out like a sore thumb, but it
is only slightly disruptive to the flow of the film. There are no better
places in the film where a layer change could take place, as the film doesn't
stop moving at any point that wouldn't result in having around ninety minutes
to one of the layers.
Matching the exceptionally impressive video transfer
is a butt-kicking, immersive audio transfer that pulls you out of your
seat and puts you right in the middle of the action with the doomed crew.
Only two audio tracks are provided with this DVD: the default English Dolby
Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and a commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 with
surround encoding. While this is a rather limited selection compared with
other DVDs, there's no way you could seriously fault the audio presentation
of the original dialogue. I listened to both audio tracks, although it
took me some time to get around to the commentary track. The dialogue was
very clear and very easy to understand at all times, even in the case of
the dubbed-in parrot's dialogue. It was reduced to an incoherent string
of screams during the fast-paced action scenes, but the dialogue was not
a primary concern during these parts of the film. Suffice it to say that
when the dialogue has great importance to the flow of the story, it is
quite easy for the viewer to understand. Audio sync was not a problem at
any point in the feature
The music of this film consisted of a score by Trevor
Rabin and some contemporary music by the likes of LL Cool J.
Thankfully, the latter half got very little use in the final cut of the
film, while Trevor Rabin's music was used to great and ominous effect.
The orchestra was used to great effect in the score music, with every instrument
taking a subtle, but very full command of the viewer's feelings. While
there was very little connection between the on-screen action and the music,
there was a suitably creepy feel to the music that managed to accentuate
the film quite wonderfully. I believe that this score music would stand
quite well on its own as a soundtrack album. As for the rest of the music,
it is typical African-American crud that reminds me of something a commentator
once said about becoming your enemy being far worse than loving your enemy.
Thankfully, it is used in such a small amount that I hardly noticed any
The surround channels got a great deal of aggressive
use for ambience, special effects, and the music. Directional effects and
precise sound placement were a constant with this film, as opposed to the
usual discrete surround mix turning into mono once the action scenes are
over arrangement that one normally expects from a film like this. This
was one of the most immersive sound fields I have ever been dropped into
at the cinema, and the DVD version is reflective of this, and it is extremely
powerful by comparison to the visuals. The subwoofer was moderately active
during the overall film, with some light use during the early scenes that
establish the premise through dialogue and bass-heavy water sounds, and
very heavy use during the action scenes. It supported the bass-heavy portions
of the soundscape quite effectively without making itself too obvious.
I firmly believe that Warner Brothers should turn the
distribution of all their films over to Roadshow Home Entertainment in this region,
as this is a brilliant selection of extras that perfectly complements the
film. This is about the only time where I have seen a DVD where the extras
and replay value justify the heightened price tag ($34.95 for a home video
is too much in my humble view).
This is one of the best-presented menus I have ever
seen, with graphics from the film, or animation and audio from the film
in the case of the main menu. Unlike the main menu for The
Matrix, the main menu animation is complementary to the overall
feel of the film. The menus are 16x9 Enhanced, with comprehensive scene
selection, language selection, and extras menus.
Cast & Crew Biographies
Biographies for Thomas Jane,
L. Jackson, and director Renny Harlin are provided in a comprehensive
cast listing that also mentions Jacqueline McKenzie,
Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard, LL Cool J, and
Navigating the menu is somewhat confusing, but the combined biographies
and filmographies are very interesting, if a little difficult to read.
Audio Commentary - Renny Harlin (Director) and Samuel
L. Jackson (Actor)
This commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround,
with Renny Harlin and Samuel L. Jackson speaking in a round-robin
fashion without actually interacting with one another. Jackson only speaks
for the first hour of the film, or for however long his character manages
to survive for. This isn't the best or most engaging audio commentary I
have ever heard (El Mariachi/Desperado
set the standards in the case of this extra), but it is definitely not
the worst - The Matrix takes
out that honour. A lot of interesting information is provided on the technical
aspects and artistic choices that went into the making of the film.
Featurette - When Sharks Attack (15:06)
This is basically an extended promotional piece for
the film, with some behind-the-scenes details included for good measure.
It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Featurette - The Sharks Of The Deep Blue Sea (8:23)
This is also an extended promotional piece, covering
the making of the mechanical sharks that were used in some shots during
the making of the film. The sharks look incredibly life-like, and it is
quite interesting to see how far underwater animatronics have come since
This featurette is also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby
Digital 2.0 Surround audio.
Deleted Scenes With/Without Audio Commentary By Renny Harlin (Director)
Presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 Enhancement, this is
a very disappointing extra. Contrary to what Paul
W has stated in his review, these scenes were not too heavily compressed,
as the transfer rate consistently hovers around six or seven Mb/s. The
real problem is that the scenes in question were obviously taken from poor
sources, and they strongly suggest that they are comprised of raw footage
taken from the computer terminal that was used to put together the CGI
Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
This trailer is of excellent quality that makes up for
the poor quality of the deleted scenes. It is presented at an aspect ratio
of 2.40:1, with 16x9 Enhancement and a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded
soundtrack. This is one of the better theatrical trailers I saw last year,
except for the rapid cutting of footage into the climactic point, which
can get a little annoying and harsh on the eyes.
This is comprised of 32 still shots from the film, presented
in a slow-motion video. It is not annotated or commentated in any way,
and it is thus of rather limited value.
This is just a collection of boring links to World Wide
Web sites, and why this crap is being put on our beloved format is beyond
me. Most distributors have woken up to the fact that the vast majority
of DVD Video users do not use a PC to watch their films, and I think it
is time Village followed suit.
R4 vs R1
It would appear that the Region 4 and Region 1 versions
of this DVD are identical, both in content and extras.
Deep Blue Sea is presented on a reference-quality
DVD. It's a pity that the plot is such a no-brainer that it borders on
being irritating at times.
The video quality is reference material.
The audio quality is also reference material.
The extras are comprehensive and mostly very enhancing
to one's enjoyment of the film.
© Dean McIntosh
March 6, 2000
||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109,
using S-video output
||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite
input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and
||Built In (Amplifier)
||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back
Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer