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Deep Blue Sea Review

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A team of scientists on a sea-based research station enhance sharks' brains in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, when the sharks get loose, they must find their way back to safety past perfect predators who can now reason and plan...

★★★★★

Whopping great sharks with oversized brains taking sizeable chunks out of a bunch of stroppy, eclectic, overfamiliar character types desperately searching for the surface of the fragmenting frame of a deep sea research centre. We were never going to be talking high art with Renny Harlin's dutifully overblown and grin-forming return to the ocean wave.

After a protracted set-up, locating us in a labyrinthine marine lab with a team of potty scientists obsessed with the idea that protein extracted from a shark's cortex can cure Alzheimer's (don't ask), an argumentative shark and some problematical weather leave the facility crippled and its three mentally dextrous cartilaginous inhabitants on the loose. The result is a dynamic, often thrilling mix of dumb-arse horror-disaster movie staples and borderline parody.

The major problem is that the point where Harlin crosses over into satire is hard to gauge. At its most outrageous, Deep Blue Sea's clunky dialogue starts to dally at the edges of smartness; facility owner Sam Jackson's literally snigger-inducing tale of ancient horrors with its crowning punchline is a delicious subversion of Quint's USS Indianapolis speech from Jaws (which acts as a template of in-jokery for Harlin), and the movie seems to be constantly waggling its B-movie tail as if to keep telling us, 'It's meant to be daft, okay?'

However, between some truly terrifying performances (Burrows, chief meddler with nature, convinces on precisely no levels whatsoever), churning predictability and huge contrivance, much of the badness is just plain badness. You're never entirely sure whether you're laughing at or with Deep Blue Sea.

Harlin is, though, a director who can pace and co-ordinate action. The set-pieces are mounted with increasing bizarreness (a shark switching on an oven?) and a real sense of playfulness; one towering knee-jerker is so good you half expect an instant replay in slo-mo. Newcomer Jane, as the macho shark wrangler Carter Blake, gives proceedings a dependable heroic centre and this is one of the first effects-driven movies to effectively meld CGI with modelwork to the best advantage of both.

Deep Blue Sea is about giant sharks eating people and that's exactly what you get.

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