Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018)
Stronger. Wiser. Deadlier.
I’m looking forward to a weekend chumming it up and watching terrible shark movies. It’s a thing people do, I promise - or not, either way it is a thing I do. I thought I’d dip my feet a little and start it off early with tonight’s entry - because I hadn’t heard a thing good about it, and beyond one reviewer I watch on the old YouTube I honestly hadn’t even realized it had released before that point, so sounds like a good plan. Let’s take a movie that was fun, and questionably good or bad, remove Sam Jackson and L L Cool J, and spin a trailer that looks like we are really just going for a shot for shot budget remake, then see where it goes! Set the expectations to twenty thousand fathoms and brace for the pressure, lets see if these bull pups are super smart or this thing’s ratings belong in the Deep Blue Sea 2.
So the plot is similar, albeit somewhat dumber at the same time. It’s partly dumber because it - intentionally or not - embraces it’s camp and just makes things ridiculous, but also because it wallows in the shallow water of almost generic horror sequel tiers of development. The basic premise is a bit of a rehash of it’s precursor - using sharks to make drugs by using drugs on sharks, but super smart sharks are a super big problem and now it’s humans trying to survive. Where this strives to differentiate itself from it’s parental offering is by tweaking the reason - it’s not for curing cancer or something great like that, no. Here, the science of sharks is being done to make the equivalent of brain steroids so that Skynet doesn’t rise up and turn is into batteries ala The Matrix. You’d think I’m joking because it sounds dumb - and it is pretty dumb, but it’s not joking. So you get some brain scientists and a shark person, speed boat them out to a research facility to check out your operation, and then realize “oh no, super smart sharks isn’t a good idea” and everyone starts doing their best to not get chomped up.
Another difference here, and what tends to make it feel more like that generic horror sequel in my mind, is that it doesn’t really waste any time trying to get you to like a character in the slightest. In the opening scene, instead of some partying kids or otherwise “undeserving” person being in danger from a threat, it’s a bunch of shark poachers killing sharks for fins. It immediately puts you in the mood of a slasher - I want the threat to win, because it might be bad but at least it’s not a butthole like those dudes. It also introduced the tiniest boat for the facility, which when your around sharks bigger than the boat by any scale you would think you’d want a bigger boat, even before they become super-smart or aggressive. After that gets out of the way, we get a opening title sequence that is one part underwater footage and one part look at the pretty lady swimming - again, setting the mood for there not being a ton of substance in this meat-bucket even though it doesn’t have a huge runtime. If you are tempered properly by these opening moments, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the movie because you know what to expect - if you are still one of those kinds of people who believes The Meg was supposed to be Shakespeare on water and was mad that it wasn’t, then you might as well check out there.
As stated, the characters are just shells of people here most the time. They’ll be given a surface level quirk, but there is nothing super tangible as to why you should like them over the sharks. You get a recently married pair of scientists, who at most get that “Aw, how cute for them” to try and make you want them to not die, and do get a small scene of trying to build them out or give them some form of complexity, but it’s pretty well wasted. You’ve got the mad scientist himself, who takes his own super drugs and gets adobe premiere graphic overlays thrown about him like he’s in an episode of some crime drama and activated hyper-think mode. You get the shark lady, who really just wants to save the good misunderstood sharks out there and is reasonably against most of the evil science-mans tampering with nature. You have a bunch of other folks who are just there to pad out the crew, despite serving a roll or how long they last in the movie - including the hero diver character, a nerd, the fixer guy, and some random dude who never really gets introduced really. If you came for characters and feel-worthy development, you are a hundred percent in the wrong place.
Let’s be honest though, it’s a movie about killer sharks. We are here for the sharks. With sharks, comes effects and that’s something that a lot (and boy do I mean a lot) of movies have a hard time with. Here, some are good, some are bad. There plenty of moments where I’m not entirely sure if it’s a CG or practical effect going on - which is pretty nice considering what this movie is - but there are undoubtedly moments where it’s totally just a not so great fake shark floating about. The same can be said about other effects as well - missing limbs can look good, as can some of the carnage brought about by a new addition - an army of little baby sharks - but then other times it can look pretty unfortunate that it’s in the center of the camera. Explosions look good, also with a few moments of bad looking fire here and there - and it brings up a good question of if some of the effects got touched up and look worse for it or not.
What do the sharks do though? Oddly, not a whole lot this time around. Most all the threat relegation is put entirely on this little navy of babies, and it sort of makes things a bit less interesting in that regard. I mean, as goofy as a large shark in a small corridor is, it feels a lot more threatening. There’s also a lot less variance in the location this time around - complete with repeat hallways with a simple color swap. The only real stand out room in the complex is the science room, and even that doesn’t really have much in the lines of interesting action that happens there - albeit it’s almost the only spot you get any real full-shark action. This means that we don’t get as much interesting things as the first - such as the shark-in-a-oven, or using humans as glass-breaking battering rams, or helicopter attacks. Instead, they mostly just kinda bunce people around. The babies eat people up, but it’s largely the same thing when they do it each time, and doesn’t help to add to feel like anything is different - especially when compounded with the very samey location.
It’s not all bad though, as you do keep hoping to see something interesting around the corner. The body count is decent, and the good portion of shown kills are pretty good looking. Since you have no real attachment to any of the characters, you don’t really feel the deaths like you would elsewhere, but it lends the movie more of a slasher feel. Missing from the slasher feel however, is any form of real nudity - you only get one scene of random underwear-clad drying off, which fits into the movie for the sole purpose of padding and could have been left in the lake - except if you cut that pointless out of the movie, you probably wouldn’t have a full run time. Look, I’m a dude - I can appreciate any time a lovely lady decides to show herself off, but this is perhaps the first time I sat there and asked “was that really necessary?” For more complaints, I could talk about the ending, but I’ll let you scratch your head about that yourself. In the meantime, just suffice for me pointing out that they forget about their magic pet clicker about half way through the movie and it just never comes up again, with no real explanation as to how it works in the first place, or why it suddenly doesn’t.
I’m going to be totally honest, if you want to watch a Deep Blue Sea movie, watch the first. This isn’t the worst shark movie I’ve seen - it’s still leagues better than Shark Night - but it sure isn’t the best either. Easy enough to kill time with it in the background and perhaps some friends, but unless it’s on sale it’s probably not going to fly as more than a rental out of most people in a best case scenario. It has moments that are pretty nice - such as the visuals - but the movie certainly feels like it’s budget wasn’t very there in the first place, so temper whatever expectations you have going in.