Deep Rising
directed by Stephen Sommers
(Disney/Buena Vista, 1998)

I like Treat Williams. I like Famke Janssen. I like movies about ships lost at sea, and the toothy creatures that lurk in its depths and look on people as savory entrees. Oh, and I definitely like the Alien series.

All that explains why I sort of enjoyed Deep Rising, a rollercoaster of a movie that tosses all pretense of originality out the window from the get-go and focuses on doing the same old thing in a fun and flashy way.

Deep Rising is, at its heart, Aliens at sea. Slimy creatures from the bottom of the ocean target a massive luxury cruise ship for snacks. The ship is adrift and without means of communication. Plucky survivors with a great deal of firepower battle the slimy creatures with mixed success; slimy creatures get plump as the number of plucky survivors dwindles.

Throw in a greedy schemer, a band of pirates who plan to raid the ship, and a beautiful international jewel thief. Oh, and don't forget the rakish but noble mercenary who never blinks under pressure, and his cowardly but witty sidekick -- to say nothing of the ready supply of explosives. It's formula all the way -- I easily guessed at the beginning who would live and die by the end.

But don't write it off entirely. Like I said, the movie has a few things going for it. Among them are Williams as the square-jawed mercenary John Finnegan and Janssen as the beautiful thief Trillian St. James. Lending a hand are Anthony Heald as the greedy schemer, Wes Studi as the menacing pirate captain (plus a bevy of disposable pirates) and Kevin J. O'Connor as the cowardly sidekick.

Put them all together and you have an action-horror flick that sprints at full tilt for the duration. Monsters appear precisely on cue, yet you still might find yourself succumbing to the occasional guilty shiver all the same.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 31 August 2002

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