First off, this is NOT Science Fiction no matter who may tell you otherwise. There is zero science in this movie, but there are many bitchin' cool monsters, and Monster Movies mean Horror. This is a purposefully created B movie that was given an A movie budget.
I'm cool with that.
In many ways this movie is much like VIRUS which was written long before DEEP RISING but not released as a movie until 2 years later. Both movies have the "Small boat in the storm comes across large mysteriously abandoned ship." The folks from the small boat climb aboard the large ship and gradually discover what became of the passengers. Merry mishaps ensue.
DEEP RISING was written and directed by Stephen Sommers (THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS) who, after recognizing his limited talents with the live action Jungle Book (another Disney flick), decided to "know his limitations" and entertain us with what he CAN do. What he can't do is write straight horror.
The script here is laughable. Stephen goes for those laughs so that we are never made to presume, even from the beginning, that this movie is expecting us to take it seriously. This is Horror/Action with a comedy punch, go with it and enjoy the ride. What Stephen lacks in story writing ability he makes up for in directing. The guy can direct, and he gives us quite a number of creepy skin crawling moments as well as one WOW moment courtesy of Blur Studio.
These moments are the shared efforts of some of the finest SFX houses in the biz. Starting first with Rob Bottin (THE HOWLING, John Carpenter's: THE THING) Studios. Also Dream Quest and Industrial Light and Magic both of whom have credits too numerous to mention. The unknowns (to this reviewer) are Banned From The Ranch Entertainment and finally, the "Half Digested Billy" sequence by Blur Studio. I'm not joking. This one, approximately 8 second scene, is devastatingly realistic. No spazzing rubber animatronics or fuzzy computer animations will ever work for you again once you see this moment. WOW! Blur Studios did their tiny job with excellence and that moment stays with you long after the movie is over.
Treat Williams (DEADLY HERO, DEAD HEAT) is the star of this flick. He plays John Finnegan, Captain of a souped up PT Boat that services the desperado trade with a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding their customers and cargo. It's his smirking kick back attitude that sets the tone for this movie from the very beginning.
His client on this trip is the mysterious Hanover (Wes Studi: THE KILLING JAR), a solid, serious man who captains a small band of tightly-strung, hi-octane men. They are rude and dangerous, and since you already know this movie is going to have an abundance of bloodshed, you are eager to see them lose theirs. Among the bad guys are two of note. Cliff Curtis (BRINGING OUT THE DEAD) who also stars in another Monster on the Deserted Ship Movie, VIRUS (see review on this site). Can there actually be a career in such a subgenre as Monster On A Deserted Ship Movie? I bring this up because, in both VIRUS and DEEP RISING, Curtis has you thinking that he is somehow the only person who doesn't know that this is all make believe: that's how real his acting is.
Djimon Hounsou also stars which again is of note because his other claim to fame is his leading role in AMISTAD, another boat movie made the same year but released in 1997.* Hollywood was big on the high seas in 1997-98. It's just too bad that TITANIC capsized them all.^
Anthony Heald (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, 8MM) plays a bastard yet again as the owner of a luxurious ocean liner. The lovely Famke Janssen (THE FACULTY, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL , XMEN [all]), does a turn as an inept international jewel thief. The part is brimming with comic possibilities, but she plays it cool and caustic. Kevin O'Conner (THE MUMMY) is Captain Finnegan's engineer and tech monkey, Pantucci. I notice that O'Conner always plays the same role regardless of the movie (somewhere in a Hollywood think tank a frantic studio exec chomps a cigar and growls "We need a whining sniveler for this part!" Fist slams on the desk with a flash of insight and he shouts, "Get me Kevin O'Conner!").
The critters themselves are giant hydra like creatures; powerful and rip roaring. They don't eat you, they drink you. That means that once they pull your wet parts off your hard parts, they spit the bones back out. Boy do these monsters suck! Literally!When they finally make their appearance halfway through the movie they are mighty cool to watch. In fact, they are more fun to watch than when the boss monster appears. The huge boss monster, by comparison, is a sloppy fuzzy mess of CGI incompetence; dull and sluggish. Eat less Fat!
!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!
Go to the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT page for larger list.
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DEEP RISING is fun and not to be taken seriously. It's a good time and a good rental. Balancing on the curve of good and so bad it's good, I give it three positive and three negative shriek girls. They do not cancel each other out. Read our ratings guide to see why this qualifies then go check it out!
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