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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Deep Rising (1998)

Treat Williams is John Finnegan, captain of a small ship that has been hired out by a group of sketchy mercenary types. They are given coordinates to the middle of nowhere and head off at a high rate of speed which means they run smack into a small speedboat that is floating in the middle of the ocean nearly sinking themselves in the process! Now we the viewer know that it is there because the large cruise ship that they were going to rob, and sink has been attacked by something and the boat got knocked off. The ship is damaged which means in addition to robbing the cruise ship they need to use the machine shop onboard the to make some repairs.

This is a monster movie, so things aren’t that simple. The ship should be full of passengers but is totally empty. They do find lots of blood, but no bodies. As they explore, they run into survivors locked in the vault as well as Trillian, who was also locked up after being caught trying to rob the wealthy passengers. It is then that they realize there are creatures moving thru the pipes and in the walls. Creatures that want to eat them alive! Well actually digest them alive which is way worse… The rest of the movie we have the survivors trying to escape back to the smaller ship, fix the damage, and get the hell out of there.

It had been years since I watched this movie. I remember enjoying it when I first caught it on VHS back in the late nineties. The story is simple and plays on all the monster movie tropes that you would expect to see. The bad guys are bad until they need help and then are bad again. The best example of this is when the Joey character does one of them a huge favor only for them to do an unexpectedly nasty thing. Won’t spoil it here but watch the movie and you’ll get my reference. Of course, their means of escape is damaged, so they can’t just hop in and get the hell out like any sane person would. Nope they have to go to the bottom of the cruise ship to the machine shop to get the parts fixed first. This allows the crazy monster fighting fun to happen and for us to get a good look at what the monsters do when they get someone. Deep Rising knows what it is and embraces the genre in all of its tropes. I like that.

Love the cast
I have to mention the cast. Famke Janssen is great as Trillian, the erstwhile thief that survives the initial attack because she gets caught and tossed into a cell. The mercenaries are played by some familiar faces such as Wes Studi and Djimon Hounsou. The names might not be familiar to you, but I guarantee you have seen them before. Treat Williams and Kevin J. O’Connor are great as the Finnegan and his sidekick Joey. O’Connor plays a very similar character in director Stephen Sommers Mummy movie as well as his Van Helsing flick. The guy is great in these types of roles, which started with Deep Rising.

Not a fan of the monster
Now we get to the one thing that I don’t think holds up well and is really my only complaint with Deep Rising. The creatures are all CGI. Every tentacle, every attack, all of it is digital. Other than some of the skeletal bodies that were “excreted” by the creatures we have zero practical effects work in the movie. This is also early on with the technology so some of it isn’t that great. There is a slight spoiler coming so please be warned. We don’t have a lot of little monsters but instead those are the tentacles of the single creature which we get to see in the big finale. It looks awful and doesn’t even match the scene into which it is inserted. The monster has a washed out look that makes is terribly distracting and pulls me right out of the fun. This is supposed to be the big payoff for all the action that preceded it and I felt let down.

I have to decide if the bad CGI is going to make me rethink my position on Deep Rising. I really wish these effects looked better, but the rest of the movie is so much fun that I can’t not recommend it. Manage your creature expectations and I think you will have fun.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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