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Deep Rising: Shallow Waters - Good Monster

a film review by Joseph Parra

Rating: 2 out of 4 (for the monster!)

I always wanted to take an ocean cruise on one of those mega luxury liners...until now.  Deep Rising showed me that if the cruise line is successful (or isn’t), I could be robbed by modern day pirates/terrorists/hoods/whatever - OR, even worse, be eaten by a horrific beastie from the deep!  This Hollywood Pictures release sunk deep into Disney’s pockets to give spfx director Rob Bottin free reign in designing the terror(s) from the deep.  Unfortunately, this caused them to skimp in other areas.
A fantastically large luxury liner - replete with gambling, good food, video games extraordinaire, et al - sets sail on its maiden voyage, when it is set upon by incredibly bad weather, a power failure, and... something else...  At about the same time, a good-sized modern cargo speedboat heads toward the huge liner with its small crew and sinister passengers, who’ve hired the boat to haul its peculiar cargo of explosives.  In short order, the passengers of the cargo boat reveal themselves to be vicious, murderous pirates who commandeer the cargo boat so they can storm the luxury liner and rob the wealthy patrons.  When the pirates reach the liner, they ready a torpedo to sink the liner after they rob it of its treasures; then they board the vessel, machine guns a-blazing.  All this gunplay is rather useless, for as the pirates enter the liner’s main ballroom, they find that practically everyone on board is dead -- horribly slaughtered.  There is carnage everywhere they search.  As I said, practically everyone is dead - but not all.  The pirates come across a woman who is a professional thief, the ship’s owner, the captain, and two of the ship’s officers - all of whom are hiding from... them.  What are “them”?  A bizarre mutant variety of Aroyo - strange little sucker worms which annoy deep sea divers.  These aroyo aren’t tiny, however - the smallest is about 12 feet long... perhaps.  Will it be possible to escape the monsters which have infested the entire ship?
The plotting of this sea-beastie adventure is rather briny, as far as the pirate-cum-thief subplotting goes - along with the performances therein.  This film was announced about four years ago.  Supposedly it took most of that time to develop the necessary computer graphics for the undersea menace.  The time wasn’t wasted - the graphics for the monster(s?) are fantastic and expertly done.  What else should we expect from Rob Bottin, the man who reinvented werewolves in 1980’s The Howling and the gooey whatsits in John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing?  As I mentioned earlier, Hollywood Pictures’ parent, Disney, gave Bottin carte blanche; and he outdid himself.  What a shame the screenwriter/director, Stephen Sommers, drew a blank where everything but the monster was concerned.  The dialogue is trite to the point of being totally asinine.  The pirates, though adept with firearms, seem ill-equipt to deal with the small band of survivors they find - to the point of causing one to wonder just how these jugheads would have been able to handle a whole ship full of people.  The leads - Treat Williams, Famke Jannssen, Wes Studi, and Anthony Heald - try to mask their tedium, but fail miserably.  But to Hell with all that, for the monster is so strange and so unique that IT makes the entire process bearable.  While the form may be basically familiar, the specifics are fascinating.  Just when you think you have the creature figured out - BAM!
I have sat through the late 1980s’ boom of lousy sea monster movies:  Leviathan, Deep Star Six, Lords of the Deep, Endless Descent, etc. - complete with dopey plots and laughable monsters.  At least, monster-wise, this is a shift in the right direction.  Enjoy - the deepriser, anyway!

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