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LEVIATHAN

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Movies E.C. McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Leviathan
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LEVIATHAN - 1989
MGM
Rated: Germany: Rated 16 / Norway & Sweden: Rated 15 / U.K. Rated 18 / USA: Rated R

This movie was released in 1989 when Hollywood was going through one of its periodical Water movie eras. LORDS OF THE DEEP, LEVIATHAN and DEEPSTAR SIX were all released in anticipation of the success that would surely follow James Cameron's THE ABYSS. As it turned out, THE ABYSS was both over budget and behind schedule, being released far after LORDS OF THE DEEP, LEVIATHAN and DEEPSTAR SIX flopped. THE ABYSS flopped too. 1989 just wasn't the right time for dopey Horror/SF movies in the water*.

LEVIATHAN stars Peter Weller (ROBOCOP, ROBOCOP 2, NAKED LUNCH, SCREAMERS) as Steven Beck, a geologist stationed aboard a deep underwater mining operation that is digging for silver. The crew of the mining facility is on the last 3 days of a 90 day tour and everybody is getting punchy. Steven seems to be one of the few people on the station who has his act together.

Certainly not Six-Pack, played by Daniel Stern (BLUE THUNDER, FRANKENWEENIE, C.H.U.D., VERY BAD THINGS) in a role I wouldn't even give to Police Academy alumni.

*
8 years later, Hollywood would repeat itself and release another slew of underwater critter flicks just prior to the release / and following the success of, James Cameron's TITANIC.

Some of those movies were:
DEEP RISING
VIRUS


^
Died in October of 1989, LEVIATHAN was one of his last movies.

~
Here are just a few of Jerry Goldsmith's vast credits:
Rod Serling's: THE TWILIGHT ZONE [TV], Boris Karloff's: THRILLER [TV],
THE SATAN BUG, PLANET OF THE APES, THE OMEN, COMA, DAMIEN: OMEN II, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, ALIEN,
OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT, POLTERGIEST, GREMLINS, ALIEN NATION, TOTAL RECALL, GREMLINS 2, STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, DEEP RISING, THE MUMMY [1999], THE 13TH WARRIOR,
THE HAUNTING [1999], HOLLOW MAN,
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, STAR TREK: NEMESIS,
and there are another 15 to 20 Horror, Thriller, or Mystery movies that I haven't mentioned but surely you get the idea. The man was prolific!

The station's Doctor, Glen Thompson (Richard Crenna: WAIT UNTIL DARK, THE EVIL, DEATH SHIP) has a real give-a-shit attitude that is going to get somebody killed if he doesn't take his job more seriously. In fact, only Cobb (Hector Elizondo: THE FAN [1981]) and Elizabeth Williams (Amanda Pays: MAX HEADROOM [TV], THE KINDRED) seem to have their heads on tight.

Rounding out the cast and acting edgy are Ernie Hudson (GHOSTBUSTERS, GHOSTBUSTERS 2, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, THE CROW), Michael Carmine^, and Lisa Eilbacher. So LEVIATHAN had a good cast.

The sets are incredibly cool and very functional looking thanks to the Production design of Ron Cobb (ALIEN, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, ALIENS, TOTAL RECALL).

The music was orchestrated by the hardest working composer in Hollywood, Jerry Goldsmith~.

With all this greatness where did the movie go wrong?

It has a horribly bad script for one thing. The character development is plastic, and the events leading up to the various crises are laughably contrived. This plus the movie shouts rip off at every turn. When it is not sloppily stealing from John Carpenter's THE THING, it is doing a poor job of robbing from ALIEN. This horribly bad tale was an original story by David Peoples, a man who has done far, far better in his film writing career with movies like BLADE RUNNER (co-writer), UNFORGIVEN, TWELVE MONKEYS (co-writer), and the BLADE RUNNER storyline for the Video game.

The screenplay was co-written by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart. Jeb has an impressive list of co-writing screenplays for popular movies throughout his career and on his own wrote and directed 1997's fascinating Thriller SWITCHBACK. Between the two of them, they really haven't had an actual bad movie besides this one, so I can't help but feel that LEVIATHAN became one of two things during the course of filming:
1. A Movie made by committee (Niiiice.)
2. A movie made by a director who largely tossed the script aside.

The movie was Directed by George P. Cosmatos, who in the past nearly 30 years has written and / or directed only 10 movies and they all range from mediocre to the worst crap ever. He has only directed one good movie in the past 3 decades, and LEVIATHAN ain't one of them. So naturally I'm inclined to put the failure of this movie on his shoulders.

The movie starts underwater with all the staff bitchin' at each other. All of their complaints are mostly centered on Daniel Stern's character of Buzz Six-Pack. Stern plays the consumate asshole quite well, but is such an overbearing jerk it's astounding that, after 3 months in close quarters with this guy, no one has cleaned his clock in a proper "attitude adjustment".

Ernie Hudson is Justin Jones. In the movie he is generally friends with everyone and is sick of Six-Pack's constant bullshit.

Lisa Eilbacher plays Bridget Bowman. She generally gets along with everybody but is getting really sick of Sick-Pack's constant bullshit.

Michael Carmine plays Tony Rodero. He does his job, fantasizes about someday living in Switzerland, snow skiing all the time, and has just about had all he is going to take from Sick-Pack's constant stream of bullshit.

Hector Elizondo is perfect in his role like he is perfect in every role he plays, regardless of direction or script. As G.P. Cobb, he is a man who misses his family back home, does his job as best he can, gets along pretty well with everybody, and is fed up with Six-Pack's never ending bullshit.

Hector Elizondo
TALK TO THE HAND.
NO SERIOUSLY, YOU CAN TALK TO MY HAND. IT ALSO TALKS BACK!
HOW COOL IS THAT?

Amanda Pays struggles through her role as only Amanda Pays can. She stars as Elizabeth Williams, sometimes called Willie. She keeps her business to herself, dreams of being an astronaut one day, kinda likes Geologist Steven Beck, and is through putting up with Six-Pack's unending stream of bullshit.

After a minor skirmish between Willie and Six-pack, Beck sends them both back out into the briney deep to do some busy work and relieve some of that aggression.

In the next stupidly contrived scene, Six-Pack walks off a cliff, drops about 35 feet, and discovers a sunken ship only about 100 yards from the station. Amazingly enough, They Never Knew It Was There!

Come on now!

When they constructed this station they never looked around? Not even 100 yards??? It turns out this Russian wessel is none other than the Leviathan: purported by the Russians to still be operational in the Black Sea, as opposed to sunk in the trenches of the Atlantic. Film frames are wasted as Willie hunts for Six-Pack (HA! Like She Cares!). Six-Pack on the other hand, discovers a sunken chest, brings it onboard the station, drinks some vodka found in the trunk, and Merry Mishaps ensue.

!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!:
Only the white actors survive in this movie. This follows the time honored Horror movie cliche of Kill The Black People.

Go to the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT page for the larger list. Now back to the review:

The creature was designed by Creature Effects man par excellance Stan Winston!

Never the less, the monster is an awful job.

Part Deep Sea Critter, yet at the same time a conglomeration of all of its victims a la THE THING (which Stan Winston assisted the great Rob Bottin in creating varmints for), the creature is neither here nor there or scary in the least. While there are a few scenes that COULD have been scary, these moments are destroyed by the awkward body and movements of the monster.

Far scarier in terms of suspense are simply the dwindling crew's chances of making it out alive before their underwater station implodes. The Monster becomes a useless add-on, used to artificially create tension. The movie could have been just as good if the crew members say, went crazy with the disease in a rabid state, able to infect the others with a bite or scratch. Or perhaps the disease is in an incubation stage where it can only infect via bodily fluid transfer in the first 48 hours, after that, it becomes airborne. ANYTHING would have been better than the goofball varmint that makes its appearance in this flick. How fortunate that Stan redeemed himself with the PREDATOR creature a few years later.

Still, if you just LOVE them cheesy rubber suit varmints, you might like the ridiculous tom-foolery of LEVIATHAN.

Two Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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