25. Deep Blue Sea

DeepBlueSea1

In the top quarter is a film rarely seen frequently on TNT, but much-loved by those who do. It’s a cult classic, you might say, and how could it not be: it’s Jurassic Park but with sharks, about smart sharks running amok in an underwater research base.

That’s so stupid. Goddamn it that is so stupid. Deep Blue Sea, you give science-fiction a bad name. But–

Upon closer examination, that is, upon watching any of it without rejecting the film on the popular grounds that this is indeed a Renny Harlin picture, we find something entirely too clever. A stupid idea begets a good one, almost — smart sharks are whatever, but let’s talk about this in terms of genre.

Or subgenre, since it’s scifi and then creature feature, and then shark-attack, popularized by a diddy called Jaws. In light of that movie, it would seem that all shark-attack movies have been done. How honestly do you get sharks to kill people? Well, Jaws was smart because the mayor was keeping the beaches open, despite the shark murders.

Regardless, you bring the people to the sharks, so cross that off the list. Recent forays into offensive portmanteau over at SyFy might do the inverse, but it started (maybe) with Deep Blue Sea. You have this giant underwater research base, which is the big-budget, 21st century vision of the thing from Deepstar Six. (The Deepstar Six).

And then you sink it, thereby flooding it, and this brings the sharks to the people. That’s so smart. Goddamn it that is so smart.

Not only because it’s a high-concept (within a low-concept), but it facilitates the requisite tension and suspense, and more importantly, creates a wonderful aesthetic in a place we didn’t expect. Even in the start, we have a Scuba diver roving through an underwater tunnel, some kind of gun at the ready, and it’s just very cool. Like nautical astronauts, in a space station that’s more fun and less terrifying.

This was a formative movie for me growing up. It came out when I was six, and existed in a time of monster animals craze, alongside Lake Placid, and terminating (for me at least) in the underrated Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid. My friends and I were particularly influenced by the ideas and looks of Deep Blue Sea, and it reframed our outlook on the ocean forever.

My family goes to Cape Cod and then Maine every summer for vacation, and the beach is enormously boring. But boats are cool, and aquariums. I’d love to really go out there, and it isn’t The Abyss, or Aliens of the Deep 3D, or even Jaws that incited this interest.

Because it’s not a real interest, after all. The ocean becomes just another everyday canvas for me to project all manner of fantastic imaginings, inspired entirely by the overly-gory, Samuel Jacksoning, and hat-like-a-shark-fin Deep Blue Sea.

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