A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deep Blue Sea is a 1999 action/horror movie in which sharks who have been genetically modified to have smarter brains to cure Alzheimer's go on a rampage. While the special effects of the sharks attacking and killing is '90s CGI at its worst, the violence is still gruesome and bloody. One character has his arm chewed off by a shark below the shoulder; what remains gushes blood. Characters are chewed in half before they're killed. Sharks are harpooned and electrocuted to death. As bad as the movie is overall, some of these shark attacks are surprising and might be too much for more sensitive viewers. Some profanity, including "f--k" and variations. A parrot is fond of repeating profanity-filled one-liners, and there's smoking and drinking. Characters look through the living quarters of a female colleague who died in search of her vibrator. The movie is somewhere between Jaws and Sharknado -- some of the scares of the former and a lot of the cheese of the latter, sans the self-awareness.
What's the story?
In DEEP BLUE SEA, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows), on a monomaniacal quest to cure Alzheimer's, has genetically modified the brains of Mako sharks to use their DNA. She has also unwittingly turned them into the smartest killers on the planet. After a shark escapes from Aquatica -- the research station where these sharks are kept -- and nearly kills a group of teenagers on a boat, McAlester arrives with Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson), the major financial backer of Aquatica, to see how things are coming along. McAlester's ethical violations put her at odds with many of Aquatica's crew, including Carter Blake (Thomas June), a strong and silent type who is also an ex-con trying to make good. While tests reveal that the shark brains in their new forms do have the capacity and potential to treat and possibly cure Alzheimer's, before Aquatica's crew has time to celebrate, the sharks turn on their human captors and go on a bloody rampage. As each crew member gets attacked and eaten, it's up to Carter, with help from the quippy cook who goes by "Preach" (L.L. Cool J), to kill the sharks before they eat them and destroy Aquatica.
Is it any good?
This movie exists somewhere between Jaws and Sharknado, with none of the quality of the former and none of the deliberate self-awareness of the latter. In fact, the success of the Sharknado franchise seems to be the only logical reason for there to be a Deep Blue Sea 2 coming out nearly 20 years after the original. With its truly awful dialogue exchanges and one-liners, bad CGI special effects, and bombastic Michael Bay-esque cameras constantly swirling around, this movie embodies everything lousy about '90s action movies.
What saves Deep Blue Sea from being a total dud is that there are some surprises and plot twists to the played-out formula. Also, some of the human deaths from the sharks are so over-the-top, this could be seen as the precursor to Sharknado. However, this in no way overcomes how hackneyed everything else about the movie is. As it doesn't make many demands on the viewer, this is best for those seeking mindless action-movie entertainment with no expectations. That's about all that can be said for it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about action and horror movies. How does Deep Blue Sea use many of the conventions of both genres?
How does this compare to other movies in which sharks or other forms of marine life go on the warpath against humanity? Why is that such a popular theme?
Did the violence seem relevant to the story, or did it seem gratuitous? Why?
- In theaters: July 28, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: September 8, 2009
- Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane
- Director: Renny Harlin
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Graphic shark attacks, and for language.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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