Let me ask you a simple question. What is the greatest shark movie of all time? Is your answer a four letter word that rhymes with “straws”? Well, shut up, because you’re wrong.* The correct answer is DEEP BLUE SEA, a modern classic that is best encapsulated by Samuel L. Jackson’s famous quote, “They ate me! A fuckin' shark ate me!” With an airtight plot, compelling characters, and CGI that has aged exceptionally well, you can’t go wrong here. Ah wait, sorry, I was thinking of that Planet Earth episode where the sharks jump out of the water. This movie is shit.
The movie is basically about a team of scientists researching genetically engineered sharks to cure Alzheimer’s or something like that. The lead scientist is played by Saffron Burrows, who does a great job at making everyone watching or participating in the movie hate her. Thomas Jane plays a hero shark wrangler; his other talents include slipping and falling at the worst possible times throughout the movie. Hilarious. LL Cool J plays the chef/reverend, because this was the late 90s and LL Cool J was still a person then. We also have Samuel L. Jackson, who’s a wealthy investor that for some reason has a backstory that involves him getting stranded in the Alps and resorting to cannibalism. Why is this necessary? Well, it isn’t. But they put it in anyway, maybe to soften the blow when he gets unexpectedly eaten by a shark during his epic speech. There are some other people too, but they’re not important and obviously get ripped open by sharks.
What would you do if you were stuck in an area that was being terrorized by sharks? Simply don’t go in the water, you might say. Problem solved. Well smartass, the cunning writers of this movie took that out of the equation. We find the characters on an old military base-turned-laboratory that’s floating in the middle of the ocean with the sharks contained within it. For much of the movie, this base is either flooding or sinking, so there is no escape from the water. Ironically, the action is entirely inside this compound, and not on the open water like the title suggests. The inevitability of escaping without getting wet causes the idiot scientists that found themselves trapped here to make a series of terrible decisions that end in everybody getting at the very least severe flesh wounds.
Speaking of idiot scientists making terrible decisions, my favorite fact about this movie has to do with the female lead, played by Saffron Burrows. Spoiler alert, in the climax of the movie she falls into the water and gets torn apart by a shark. In the original ending, however, she was supposed to live, probably by being saved by Tom Jane. The problem was that when the studio showed it in test screenings, people hated her character so much that they demanded that she die. They had a point, I mean she really sucked. It almost seemed like everyone involved in the production of the movie went out of their way to portray her as kind of a bitch when they really didn’t need to. So, instead of having a romantic ending with LL Cool J third-wheeling like crazy, they dropped the girl and just had Tom Jane and LL live.
I have to say, it’s a better ending. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty bad. None of the characters succeeded in making me care anything about them with the exception of LL Cool J, so it really wouldn’t have bothered me if all the characters in the film died. Even LL Cool J lost my favor as the credits rolled, with the funniest, most half-assed movie tie-in rap song of all time. I mean this blows Wild Wild West out of the water. The song goes on with a lot of different shark metaphors as if he is the shark himself. The chorus is “My hat is like a shark’s fin.” What the fuck does that even mean? In fact, go listen to it right now. It’s important. Just search “LL Cool J Shark Song”.
By the way, let me do you a favor. If you decide to watch, go ahead and either fast forward to the 30 minute mark, or just leave the room and go do something productive for half an hour. Make yourself some food. Go for a run. Masturbate. Whatever you feel you need to do. I assume you’re only watching the movie to see people get eaten by sharks, and that doesn’t start happening until half an hour in. The parts you miss are completely unnecessary. Did you read my second paragraph? That gives you more than enough information about you might think you missed. In the end, all this movie is really good for is watching people get eaten by sharks, and it’s debatable as to whether it’s even good at that. Unless you really want to see Sam Jackson get eaten halfway through a big monologue, I say skip it.
*It should be noted that you were not wrong. JAWS is the greatest shark movie ever and is superior in every way to DEEP BLUE SEA.