Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blast from the Past Movie Review: Deep Rising (1998)

Although my parents tended to be rather conservative about what movies I was allowed to watch growing up, thanks to sites like Screenit Movie Reviews for Parents that delineated the amount of violence, sex, cursing, etc. there were some R-rated movies I got to see when they came out even as early as middle school. One was Deep Rising, which I saw when I was in eighth grade with my buddy David and his mom.

This was my suggestion for the podcast Myopia: Defend Your Childhood's monster-movie month. I haven't had much luck with my suggestions holding up--you can see my review of Dog Soldiers and my review of Spawn for that--but I was hoping this one would turn out better. Here's the podcast and now for the review...

The Plot

A group of mercenaries led by Hanover (Wes Studi) hire Captain John Finnegan (Treat Williams) and his grease monkeys Joey Pantucci (Kevin J. O'Connor) and Leila (Una Damon) to help them rob a cruise ship. Unfortunately by the time they get to said ship, something has attacked it and eaten all the passengers. What do survivors Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen), Captain Atherton (Derrick O'Connor), and owner Simon Canton (Anthony Heald) know about what happened and, more importantly, what can they do when it turns out whatever attacked the ship is still on board?

The Good

*Before I say anything else, this movie is pretty damn entertaining. In my rarely humble opinion, it still holds up even twenty years later.

*A lot of the movies I've reviewed tended to have long draggy opening credit sequences. Deep Rising's opening is a lot more concise and between the on-screen descriptions and the soundtrack is pretty ominous.

*Like Jaws they know to be sparing with the monster, especially early on. However, just because you shouldn't see the monster doesn't mean you can't hear the monster, and the noises the creature makes are spooky as hell.

*Speaking of sounds, I like the sound editing as well. Never has stepping through the squishy remains of people sounded so vivid.

*There's a lot of good foreshadowing that something very bad is about to happen before we see a single solitary sea-beastie.

*I found a lot of the humor amusing.

*I also generally liked the acting. Williams does a decent job as the lead, while Janssen is delightfully kleptomaniac as Trillian. I found O'Connor amusing as Pantucci, even though it seems like pretty much everybody else found him annoying.

*There are details stated in the beginning that become important later, like the pirates' guns being airtight.

*I was going to comment on the complete lack of trigger discipline a lot of the characters have being a bad thing, but the characters for the most part don't seem to be professional soldiers. Hanover (whose actor is a Vietnam veteran and probably remembers how to do it) and Finnegan seem to have at least some idea of what they're doing, but most of the pirates are probably just thugs.

The Bad

*Daniel likes to invoke the Tom Servo Rule of not referencing better movies in one's bad one. There was really no need for the script to pirate--way more than just reference--a line from Star Wars, especially since there was plenty of amusing snark to spare. It's like how the Peter Jackson King Kong's worst moments were when they tried to re-use lines from the original rather than be creative.

*Some of the "jump scares" don't work out, especially the ones that are fake-outs. David calls them "fake intense scenes" and he found them annoying. I do too.

*TVTropes says the mercenaries line up with the Seven Deadly Sins--for example, the one who wants to sleep with a woman from every country on the planet corresponds to Lust--but they still could have had better character development.

*I thought everybody knew not to get into elevators in fires or other emergency situations. Why don't these characters know that?

*It's a miracle with the bad trigger discipline I mentioned there weren't more incidents of people accidentally shooting each other.

*A character's death is prolonged just for a character moment. Anybody ever heard of kill your darlings? If something doesn't make sense it doesn't make sense, even if it's a good way to illustrate how much of an asshole someone is.

*It starts to drag a bit before the final 20-25 minutes.

The Verdict

Not the smartest film in the world, but it's pretty entertaining. Worth a rental at least. 8.0 out of 10.

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