Like a lot of people, Jaws is one of my favorite movies. As such, it is the standard by which I measure all over shark and water-based monster movies. This attitude has kept me away from a lot of movies of this ilk. But, you know what? That’s not really fair, is it? Halloween’s another favorite movie, but that hasn’t kept me away from slasher flicks, so why does liking Jaws make me not want to see shark movies? The obvious reason is that, if you can’t top the best, why bother? It’s a valid argument, but one that’s been keeping me away from a good movie like Deep Blue Sea. Another problem is that I’ve seen so many straight-up lifts of the Jaws plot, that I go into movies like DBS expecting them. Lastly, since Jaws was a widely accepted classic almost immediately, I think a lot of people with good underwater monster stories might have shied away. This is good because they would have been compared, but bad because it means the sub-genre is mostly filled with one great movie, lots of copycats and the occasional gem.
DBS is one of those gems. It’s not near-perfection like Jaws, but it’s a fun movie with a great cast, some alright effects and a plot that combines elements of Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure and your basic mad scientist flick. See, there’s this research facility out in the ocean that’s doing tests on sharks that will somehow help people. While doing the experiments, one of the doctors did a few things she wasn’t supposed to and now the sharks are super smart. They then start attacking the facility, killing a large number of the scientists and people there.
So, you’ve got the threat of not just sharks which are scary enough on their own, but super smart sharks with emotions and what not. Plus, you’ve got a mostly underwater locale which means there are plenty of scenes that made movies like Poseidon Adventure or The Abyss so creepy to me personally (I have a an unnatural fear of things that shouldn’t be under water, being under water). Plus, the cast include Sam Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Thomas Jane and more. There’s also quite a few winking nods to Jaws that let you know that director Renny Harlin knows the comparisons are being made. The first shark we see has a license plate in his mouth and the comparisons don’t stop there. I didn’t notice it on my own by SPOILER the sharks actually die in the same way that the sharks in the first three Jaws flicks die. Nice touch.
Another nice touch is the above closing credits song. I’m a big fan of horror movies (any movie really) that include a song at the end that’s actually related to/written for the movie. Sure it’s corny, but I guess I’m a little corny too. At the end of the day, I’d have to agree with a quick description I just read on YouTube while looking for this clip, it’s the second best shark movie I’ve seen. Now, I’ve heard that The Reef and that other movie where divers are abandoned at sea (can’t think of the darn name) are good too, but my Jaws-bias got in the way.