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Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea

We decided to end this year’s Shark Week series with 1999’s Deep Blue Sea. A team of Alzheimer’s researchers learns the valuable lesson not to fuck with nature. Using an underwater laboratory, biologist Susan McAlester (the gorgeous Saffron Burrows) is studying the use of shark brains to fight Alzheimer’s. She very unethically genetically alters the sharks’ brains to make them larger.



Thomas Jane plays shark wrangler Carter Blake. His job is to keep the sharks under control and in place for the scientists. He’s also good to have around when things go wrong with the sharks. Unfortunately for the team, the genetic experiments make the sharks smarter. And they are not happy being fenced in and experimented on. And we all know what happens when you fuck with nature…it fucks with you back!


Director Renny Harlin did not hold back on the violence in this. The sharks are pissed and he wants us to know it. The deaths are brutal. And he wants us to know that anyone can die at any time. We’ve seen this type of premise before – a group of people trapped in some sort of structure that they can’t leave, being hunted by a creature. Harlin effectively ramps up the tension to keep you guessing.



The movie was inspired by something from writer Duncan Kennedy’s childhood. The remains of a shark attack victim washed up on the beach near his house. This led to nightmares about being trapped with a mind-reading shark.  He used those dreams to craft the script for Deep Blue Sea.


Deep Blue Sea has a fantastic cast – Samuel L. Jackson, L.L. Cool J., Stellan Skarsgård, Michael Rappaport, and more. They’re all cast in the perfect roles for them. L.L. and Rappaport are the comic relief and Jackon is exactly what we want him to be. And L.L. has a parrot! 


The real stars of the movie were the sharks. Harlin wanted to use real sharks, so the crew went to the Bahamas to film some of the scenes. Thomas Jane, who was afraid of sharks, had to film scenes swimming with them…”The first day, I was in a cage, but the next day, they swam me 30 feet down … Then this guy yanks the breather off me and the water’s churning with blood and guts and stuff … It was so terrifying that I don’t want to remember it.”


Animatronic and CGI sharks were also used. Harlin wanted audiences to experience the whole shark – not just the mouth and fin. And he wanted them bigger than in Jaws. (he had the sharks made twenty-six feet long) The special effects team spent eight months getting the sharks to look as real as possible. The cast said it felt like a real shark when they touched it. The gills moved like it was breathing. The animatronics combined with CGI images was fantastic. 

I liked the movie. It can never top Jaws (nothing can) but it was fun to watch. There’s a lot of action and people getting eaten. No matter the plot, shark movies are just about sharks trying to eat people and who they’re going to get. That’s about all you’ll get with this one, blood and body parts. (But isn’t that why we watch shark movies?)

The plot is thin and far-fetched, but Deep Blue Sea was a fun movie. There are characters that you’ll pray to get eaten and ones you’ll root for. The roles of L.L. and Rappaport showed that Harlin didn’t take himself too seriously, but he does deliver the action and suspense. It’s a good Shark Week watch.

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