Sunday, November 04, 2012
I Think It's The Girl From Ipanema
But let's talk more about DEEP RISING, an exciting and often hilarious man-against-monster flick set on the high seas. Made with energy, wit, and tongue-in-cheek style, Hollywood Pictures and distributor Buena Vista did it a real disservice, saddling it with a confusing title (what’s a Deep Rising?) and giving it a post-Christmas January 1998 release with the rest of the flotsam studios don’t think they can sell. Stephen Sommers, DEEP RISING’s writer and director, who went on to A-list action features like VAN HELSING and G.I. JOE, effectively mixes humor and horror, and leading man Treat Williams, who hammed up the villain role in THE PHANTOM, portrays his devil-may-care hero with tongue pushed deftly into cheek.
John Finnegan (Williams) is an adventurer who rents his boat to anyone willing to pay cash—“If the cash is there, we do not care.” He and his crew, including sexy spitfire Leila (Una Damon) and bumbling mechanic Pantucci (Sommers regular Kevin J. O’Connor), transport sinister Hanover (Wes Studi) and his gang of terrorists to the middle of nowhere, where the bad guys plan to hijack a luxurious floating casino. However, when they arrive, the cruise ship has been trashed, blood is splashed everywhere, but no bodies are found.
A few survivors finally appear, including a gorgeous jewel thief named Trillian St. James (Famke Janssen, who had just starred as Bond girl Xenia Onatopp in GOLDENEYE). It quickly becomes clear that the passengers and crew were consumed by slithering sea monsters (designed by THE THING’s Rob Bottin) with long tentacles with mouths and big teeth at the end of them that “drink their victims alive and excrete the skeletal remains.”
Sommers takes time to set up the geography of the cruise ship and the relationships among the characters (maybe a little too much time), and then jumps into the action with guns literally a-blazing. The obligatory scientific explanation of the monsters’ origin is quickly dispensed with in a winking tone (‘cause who really cares), and the CGI creature effects manage to be genuinely unsettling and gory. The cast is careful not to go over the top, and the deft comic moments never overwhelm the scares nor dilute the monsters’ sense of menace.
DEEP RISING was no hit, opening at number eight while TITANIC was still topping the box office charts, so we never got the sequel promised by the clever final shot. Jerry Goldsmith’s energetic score adds heft to the action and thrills, and Williams and Janssen look as though they’re having a ball. Anthony Heald (BOSTON PUBLIC), Trevor Goddard (MORTAL KOMBAT), Jason Flemyng (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS), Cliff Curtis (COLOMBIANA), Djimon Hounsou (BLOOD DIAMOND), and Derrick O’Connor (DAREDEVIL) co-star.