Monday, January 2, 2012

Deep Rising

  If you're only familiar with director Stephen Sommers via 'The Mummy''Van Helsing', or  'G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra', boy are you missing out.  If The Mummy is his best movie, then its not hard to say Deep Rising is a strong second.  Its a great movie, but its strengths aren't in its originality, or its script, or its plotting, or the acting, or any of that really.  Its great because its fun.  All of the stuff mentioned above is competent enough, to be passable.  Which is where the rest shines through.  Its chock full of great one liners, a thoroughly likable lead, a cool looking creature, lots of slime and tons of awesome gore. And like another personal guilty pleasure, 'Critters', it never takes itself too seriously.

   In Deep Rising, there's always time for another grin-inducing one liner. Even if the characters are on the run. The movie starts with our hero Captain Finnegan and his two person crew, who have been hired by a small squad of mercs to sail them out to apparently... the middle of nowhere - no questions asked.  We're soon privy to Finnegan's motto: "If the money is there, we do not care!" Catchy isn't it?  We soon find out, that the merc's destination is actually a massive cruise liner.  They're in business with someone aboard it, to sabotage the ship, and loot it for all its worth. But before Finnegan and crew actually get the greedy mercs to their destination,  the cruise ship is suddenly ravaged by giant mutated deep sea creatures who've surfaced... with an appetite.

  The movie takes off rather quickly, and only builds up more tension and suspense from there.  Every technical aspect is handled exceedingly well.  The music, the score, gets occasionally tacky, but it does its job when it needs to.  Visually, the movie is pretty standard for something like this, until you get to the special effects. Which are awesome.  The final big reveal looks a bit dated, obviously, but the creature itself still looks pretty badass! Then comes the gore effects, which both cgi and actual made stuff, both look stellar.

   In vein of the Roger Corman flick, 'Forbidden World', all the bloody, slimy, gory stuff is delightfully realized and incredibly well handled.  Its rare you can take a movie that on most accounts should be a contrived, cliche, boring, mess, and say wow... this is loads of fun.  I keep saying "well handled" and "awesome" over and over, but I do firmly think those two descriptors fit this movie best because all the usual pitfalls a movie like this stumbles into, Deep Rising avoids it with some 'well handled' decisions and lots of 'awesome' B-movie attractors.  Its full of big guns, classic corny dialog, a damn cool looking creature, and a rather pre-X-Men Famke Janssen. I also just can't get over how likable Treat Williams is as the hero here. He handles the leading man role very well.

  The supporting cast is just as fun with genre favorites like Kevin J. O'Connor (The Mummy), Wes Studi (Heat), Djimon Hounsou (The Island), Jason Fleyming (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and Trevor Goddard (Mortal Kombat)- all in full scenery chewing mode. If their melodramatic acting wasn't crazy enough, their over-the-top death scenes won't disappoint! Well, for the ones who do die at least. There's yelling and running and screaming galore, with a healthy dose of profanity and macho posturing. The pleasantly familiar sounds of the sci-fi/horror/action genre. And, it is indeed all three- Sci-fi, horror, and action. It delights in being equal parts of all three, and to a crazy extent. The climax involves an indoor jetski chase, while the hero is armed with a shotgun. Are they outrunning explosions? The creature? Both? Does it matter? It's awesome looking either way.

  It's a self aware movie, because how could it not be? It's Die Hard, Titanic and Tremors all rolled into one. The movie is gleefully over-the-top with big guns, bigger explosions, icky monster creatures, and the stickiest and slimiest gore effects you could imagine. It's a big budget B-movie. A throwback to a simpler era of movies where rip-offs were excusable so long as they were entertaining, and that seems to be the creed by which the filmmakers behind Deep Rising lived by. It's not high class cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but it is imaginative. It's big, loud, slimy, bloody, bullet-riddled fun. That's more than enough for me.

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