When Smart Sharks Attack: ‘Deep Blue Sea’ (1999) Revisited – Retro Movie Review

Back in the summer of 1999, I found myself recently single after a lengthy relationship and dealt with my grief by going to the movies. A lot. I went to the local movie theater at least once a week that summer, and saw films such as The Haunting, The Blair Witch Project, and countless others. I have always been a huge fan of sharks—and shark movies—so I was extremely excited to check out Deep Blue Sea. I thought that it looked awesome after seeing the trailer and reading about it in Fangoria. I remember going to see Deep Blue Sea late one afternoon all by myself (sniff!) and had very high hopes for it… to the point that I was filled with nervous excitement right before the lights went down and the trailers for other movies started playing on the big screen. But did it live up to my high expectations, or did I end up leaving the theater that day feeling let down and more depressed than ever before? Read on to find out!

Synopsis:

A group of scientists at an underwater research lab conduct experiments on several sharks as they try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately for them, not only does it make the sharks smarter, but a lot deadlier as well. Soon the super smart sharks start hunting down the scientists as they desperately try to escape to the surface. Will anyone be alive after everything is said and done, or is everyone destined to be fish food?

I had a blast with Deep Blue Sea and thought that it was a fun summer pop corn flick about sharks going nuts and eating anyone unlucky enough to get in their way. Directed by Renny Harlin (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Exorcist: The Beginning) and starring Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes of a Plane) and Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist), Deep Blue Sea is a fun little shark attack movie that is guaranteed to satisfy anyone into killer sharks. It has a lot going for it, and while it may not ever go down in history as the greatest killer shark movie ever, I still enjoyed it and think that it is a bit underrated for the most part.

The premise works. We have a group of scientists trying to find a way to cure Alzheimer’s who make the mistake of experimenting on a trio of sharks to reach their goal. Of course, things go horribly wrong as the experiment makes the sharks highly intelligent, and before you know it, they are attacking (and eating) everything that moves. It has a nice claustrophobic feel to it as the undersea setting works, and the sharks are just awesome and intimidating in general (and look quite decent as well).

The movie has a likable cast led by Jackson and Jane, including Saffron Burrows (Quitters, Knife Fight) and the always awesome LL Cool J (Mindhunters, Deliver Us from Eva). Everyone does a great job bringing their respective character to life. While I dug all the characters, Carter (Jane) really stood out for me as the bad ass shark wrangler who knows how to take care of himself when facing off against the toothy antagonists. He chews up the scenery much like a shark, and you just can’t help but root for him and want him to make it out of the predicament alive.

Jackson also does a great job as Russell, and he has one of the greatest and most shocking death scenes that you will never see coming in the history of cinema (the people in the audience when I saw it were screaming and gasping in surprise when it happened). All in all, everyone did a great job, and I can’t say that anyone in the movie phoned in their performance.

The sharks are the real stars of the movie, and they are quite impressive. They look great, are legit scary, and I love that the filmmakers decided to go with Makos as opposed to the standard Great Whites. They are all quite brutal (just ask poor old Jim, who gets the most violent and disturbing death scene) and intimidating. I like that they are intelligent and have an overall goal that they are trying to reach, and these are certainly not sharks that you want to find yourself in the ocean with as they don’t play around. I also thought that the ways the sharks died were all nods to how the sharks are taken out in the Jaws movies, as this was a very nice and clever touch.

The only real complaint that I have is that the opening scene could have been better. We have a group of teens on a boat out in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night when they are attacked by one of the sharks. I was wanting to see all of them get devoured in a fun gore-filled scene, but it wasn’t meant to be as they are all saved before the shark can snack on any of them. It just felt like a wasted opportunity to me, and I think it would have been a great way to kick things off and show just how hard core and bloodthirsty the sharks really were.

Overall, I enjoyed Deep Blue Sea and will usually watch it whenever it’s on TV even though I have seen it countless times. It’s fun, loaded with action and good death scenes, and if you are into sharks (and shark movies) like I am, then you will dig it. It may not be as iconic as Jaws, but you could do a lot worse when it comes to movies about killer sharks.

I haven’t seen either of the sequels, but I plan on sitting down and checking them out once I am done with this review. Hopefully, they are both as entertaining as this movie, but I have my doubts (which is why I haven’t watched them up to this point).

Do yourself a favor and watch Deep Blue Sea if you haven’t seen it yet or even if it has been a while since your last viewing as it holds up nicely after all these years.

About Todd "The Bod" Martin

Todd Martin is a total and complete horror fanatic who has been writing most of his life. He started out writing short stories about the Transformers, Masters of the Universe, G.I.Joe and the Thundercats in his spare time when he was in middle school, and eventually started focusing on short horror stories, as horror is his first love. Not only has he published several novels, but he also has a handful of short stories that appear in a number of different collections along with other horror writers. His true passion is screenwriting, and he has written several movies over the years including segments from the horror anthology Volumes of Blood, segments from Harvest of Horrors and Frames of Fear 3, and has written a number of full-length horror films such as Deathboard as well as the upcoming horror films Crackcoon, Crackodile, T-Rexorcist, and Wrestlemassacre 2. He often collaborates with filmmakers Tim Ritter, Brad Twigg, and Matt Burns, and has been known to act from time to time as well as writing reviews, articles, and conducting interviews for Horrornews.net. Todd currently lives in Kentucky with his wife actress/writer Trish Martin and their cats Willow and Veronica, their dogs B.B. and Odie, and the stray cats and dogs Ripley, Molly, Tiger and Franklin that they care for.

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