Deep Blue Sea

USA 1999

Reviewed by Jamie Graham


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

An underwater research centre off the coast of Mexico. Searching for a cure for Alzheimer's disease, a team of scientists, led by Dr Susan McAlester, attempt to reactivate degenerate human brain cells by injecting them into sharks' brains. As a result of their experiments, three mako sharks grow to 40 feet and demonstrate intelligent behaviour.

Russell Franklin, president of a pharmaceuticals company, arrives with a view to funding the research. An anaesthetised shark - injected with human cells - awakens and bites off scientist Jim Whitlock's arm. The helicopter transporting Whitlock to surgery crashes into the side of the research laboratory causing its computer system safeguarding the workers from the sharks to crash. The shark breaks the complex's viewing window; the centre floods and the three makos enter. The remaining scientists, accompanied by shark handler Carter Blake, cook 'Preacher' Dudley and Franklin's attempt to fight their way to the surface. Dudley kills one of the makos by igniting a gas cooker, while McAlester electrocutes another. Franklin and scientist Tom Scoggins are killed. McAlester, Blake and Dudley reach the surface. McAlester jumps back into the water to act as bait before the last shark can escape the compound. She is killed, but Blake and Dudley destroy the mako.


It is inevitable that any film featuring giant man-eating sharks will be compared to Jaws, but Renny Harlin's underwater thriller shares little with Spielberg's 1975 magnum opus. Jaws worked very much in the tradition of Val Lewton's masterly horror flicks of the 40s, wringing suspense from unseen terrors and, for the most part, keeping its monster off screen, barring the occasional dorsal fin. Deep Blue Sea, on the other hand, is a product of our CGI-dominated age and is eager to show off its digital wares. So we're treated to shot after shot of jerky, frequently risible sharks zipping across the frame or barrelling towards the camera. There's even one moment - designed, perhaps, to mimic the dual T-Rex attack in The Lost World: Jurassic Park - when two mako sharks converge on a hapless victim and tear him asunder as they exit from either end of the screen.

Deep Blue Sea has inherited more of its genes from the Jaws sequels than from the original. Set in and around an underwater research facility which is eventually breached by marauding sharks, its basic premise and set construction invite comparison to the Sea World aquarium of Jaws 3-D. And, just as the tag line to Jaws: the Revenge would have it, this time it's personal, with super-intelligent sharks breaking down steel doors and weeding out the nasty scientists who played God by experimenting on them.

However, Deep Blue Sea is ultimately more of a disaster movie teetering on 'B'-movie legs than a Jaws rip-off or bizarre slasher-film hybrid. To his credit, Harlin (Cliffhanger) recognises and embraces this. The characters spend much of the film ascending through the compound's submerged levels to surface safety, a single-minded quest that echoes that of the rag-tag ensemble who struggled through The Poseidon Adventure (1972). It is a strong concept which, when fleshed out by the shark element, should have made for gripping viewing. Instead, as the characters grapple with locked doors, their perilous undertakings often resembling an episode of the quiz show Crystal Maze, the result is a soggy effort. Thankfully, however, there are some surprises: the cast diminishes in a quite unexpected order, Stephen Windon's underwater photography is luminous and there's even the occasional inspired flourish, such as a spilt glass of red wine more disturbing than any of the graphic bloodletting.


Akiva Goldsman
Tony Ludwig
Alan Riche
Duncan Kennedy
Donna Powers
Wayne Powers
Director of Photography
Stephen Windon
Frank J. Urioste
Derek G. Brechin
Dallas S. Puett
Production Designers
William Sandell
Joseph Bennett
Trevor Rabin
©Warner Bros. (US, Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda)
©Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited (all other territories)
Production Companies
Warner Bros. presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures-Groucho III Film Partnership an Alan Riche-Tony Ludwig/Akiva Goldsman production
Executive Producers
Duncan Henderson
Bruce Berman
Rebecca Spikings
Associate Producer
Tom Mack
Production Supervisor
Anna Roth
Production Office Supervisors
Jason McGatlin
2nd Unit:
Megan Saito
Unit Production Managers
Todd Arnow
2nd Unit:
R.J. Mino
Mexico Unit Manager
Rafael Cuervo
Location Manager
Michael John Meehan
Ilyse Reutlinger
David Hall
2nd Unit Director
David Ellis
Assistant Directors
Tom Mack
David Kelley
C.C. Barnes
René Villarreal
2nd Unit:
Jamie Marshall
Patton Howell Caldwell
Sean McCarron
Domonic Mandy
Script Supervisors
Portia Jacox
2nd Unit:
Kelly Moon
Christine Sheaks
Cassandra Culukundis
2nd Unit Director of Photography
Gary Capo
Camera Operators
Marc Spicer
Guillermo Rosas
Greg Schmidt
Mark E. Moore
2nd Unit:
Leo Napolitano
Steadicam Operator
Mark E. Moore
Wescam Operator
Phil Pastuhov
Visual Effects
Jeffrey A. Okun
Thomas M. Boland
Jack Geist
Mark Eggenweiler
Visual Effects/Animation
Visual Effects Supervisor:
Jerry Pooler
Visual Effects Producer:
Scott Dougherty
Composite Supervisor:
David Lingenfelser
CG Supervisor:
Serge Sretschinsky
Paint Supervisor:
Corinne Pooler
Rotoscope Supervisor:
Karen Klein
Visual Effects Editor:
Kevin Clark
CG Animators:
John Decker
John Hewitt
Dylan Robinson
2D Sequence Supervisors:
Mark Lewis
Kevin Lingenfelser
Marcel Martinez
Craig Mathieson
Sean O'Connor
Ted Andre
Tim Gibbons
Jerry Sells
VFX Associate Producer:
Tracy Takahashi
Visual Effects Co-ordinator:
Tiffany Smith
Storm Sequence Visual Effects
Flash Film Works
Visual Effects Co-supervisor:
John P. Mesa
Visual Effects Technical Supervisor:
Dan Novy
Compositing Supervisor:
David Fogg
Animation Supervisor:
Ken Stranahan
Lead Matte Painter:
Tim Donahue
3D Model Supervisor:
Donald Myers
Digital Shark Animation
Hammerhead Productions Inc
Visual Effects Supervisors:
Rebecca Mako Marie
Jamie Greatwhite Dixon
Technical Effects Supervisor:
Thad Tiger Beier
Digital Effects Supervisor:
Theresa Sandbar Ellis
Paolo Sharpnose Moscatelli
Andy Cookiecutter Tamandl
Constance Blacktip Bracewell
Special Visual Effects/Animation
Industrial Light & Magic
Visual Effects Supervisor:
John Knoll
Animation Supervisor:
Dan Taylor
Visual Effects Producer:
Heather Smith
CG Supervisor:
Doug MacMillan
Compositing Supervisor:
Tim Alexander
Model Supervisor:
James Doherty
Visual Effects Editor:
Scott Balcerek
Visual Effects by
Manex Visual Effects
CG Supervisor:
John Sasaki
Digital Visual Effects Supervisor:
Mary Loibl
Visual Effects
Vision Art Design & Animation
Digital Effects Supervisor:
Marc Kolbe
Digital Effects
The Film Factory at VTR
Shark Action Supervisor
Walt Conti
Special Effects Supervisor
John Richardson
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Rick Thompson
Special Effects
Doug Hubbard
William Dawson
Barry McQueary
Wes Mattox
Michael Clarke
Mario Vanillo
Mike Duenas
James LaCroix
Sergio Jara Sr
Sergio Jara Jr
Marcelino Pacheco
Rosie Richardson
Alfredo Gonzales
Victor Ramirez
Ruben Rodriguez
Marco Castillo
2nd Unit:
Manuel Cordero
Mikko Kytöniemi
Digby Milner
Blair Foord
Alejandro Duran
Hector Coronado
Animatronic Sharks
Edge Innovations
Project Managers:
Ty Boyce
Joss Geiduschek
Krissy Luster
Engineering Design:
Tom Hsiu
Dave Knight
Tony Lawson
Peter Fletter
Robert Fuhrmann
Larry Cheng
Theo Gillmann
Art Director:
Jonathan Horton
Model Shop Supervisor:
Dave Caldwell
Model Shop Departments:
Gary Reyes
Rey Aquino
Manuel Contreras
Robert Guerin
Sid Scroggin
Sam Scroggin
Jesse Malone
Hydraulic Design:
John Titus
Scott Riley
Ed Roberts
Chris Cappa
Mark Terzich
Gary Peterson
Alex Contreras
Ray Rodriguez
Rudy Maldonado
Ken Staal
David Dinius
Roger Patrick
Miniatures/Miniature Photography Support
Grant McCune Design Inc
Model Supervisor:
Montgomery Shook
Model Makers:
Jack Edjourian
Alex Palumbo
Tom Rush
Mark Sheaffer
Rick Won
Video/Graphics Supervisor
Dean Streipeke
Additional Editing
Eric Strand
Kevin Stitt
Supervising Art Directors
Mark W. Mansbridge
Bruce Crone
Art Directors
Andrew Rothschild
Hector Romero
Set Designers
Bill Taliaferro
Javier Nava
Set Decorator
Debra Echard
Storyboard Artists
Lee Wilson
Gary Thomas
Costume Designer
Mark Bridges
Costume Supervisor
Jim Tyson
Jeff Dawn
Jim Kail
2nd Unit, Artists:
Raúl Sarmiento
Steve Laporte
Special Prosthetics Make-up
Matthew W. Mungle
Clinton Wayne
Chad Atkinson
Key Stylist:
Peter Tothpal
Reka Tilianyi
2nd Unit, Stylist:
Sylvia Hernandez
Pacific Title/Mirage
Gordon Goodwin
Gordon Goodwin
Tom Calderaro
Steve Holtman
Music Supervisor
LL Cool J
Music Score Producers
Trevor Rabin
Paul Linford
Music Editor
Will Kaplan
Music Score Recordist/Mixer
Steve Kempster
Music Consultants
Sha-Kim Compere
Ralph Roundtree
Robert Meloni
"Deepest Bluest (Shark's Fin)" by James Todd Smith, Timothy Hom, Ralph Roundtree, performed by LL Cool J; "Say What" by James Todd Smith, Vinnie Biggs, Dennis McCarthy, performed by LL Cool J, includes sample of "Bach Talk" by Dennis McCarthy, performed by Glen Campbell; "Good and Plenty" by Joleen Belle, Alan Molezion, performed by Divine; "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, performed by (1) Johnny Nash, (2) Chantel Jones; "Get Tha Money (Dollar Bill)" by David Blake, Crawford Wilkerson, performed by Hi-C featuring DJ Quik; "El Paraiso Rico" by Madonna, Bruce Gaitsch, Patrick Leonard, performed by Deetah; "Just Because" by Troy Taylor, Charles Farrar, performed by F.A.T.E.; "Remote Control Soul" by Graham Finn, Alan O'Keefe, Chris O'Driscoll, performed by Bass Odyssey
Sound Design Sequences
John Paul Fasal
Christopher Aud
Production Sound Mixer
Tim Cooney
Re-recording Mixers
John Reitz
Dave Campbell
Gregg Rudloff
Gregory H. Watkins
Kevin E. Carpenter
Robert Schaper
Supervising Sound Editors
J. Paul Huntsman
Robb Wilson
Dialogue Editors
John F. Reynolds
Patrick J. Foley
Sound Effects Editors
Jayme Parker
Adam Johnston
Andrew M. Somers
Hugh Waddell
Cindy Marty
Karyn Foster
David L. Horton Jr
Kevin Bartnof
Catherine Harper
Eric Gotthelf
Willy Allen
Medical Adviser
Donna Cline
Aerial Co-ordinator
David Paris
Marine Co-ordinator
Clarence Shelley Acuff
Stunt Co-ordinators
R.A. Rondell
2nd Unit:
David McCoy Barrett
Animal Handlers
Rocio Ortega
Adolfo Lara
Saffron Burrows
Dr Susan McAlester
Thomas Jane
Carter Blake
LL Cool J
Sherman 'Preacher' Dudley
Jacqueline McKenzie
Janice Higgins
Michael Rapaport
Tom 'Scog' Scoggins
Stellan Skarsgård
Jim Whitlock
Aida Turturro
Brenda Kerns
Samuel L. Jackson
Russell Franklin
boat captain
Daniel Bahimo Rey
helicopter pilot
Valente Rodriguez
helicopter co-pilot
Brent Roam
helicopter winch operator
Eyal Podell
boy 1
Erinn Bartlett
girl 1
Dan Thiel
boy 2
Sabrina Geerinckx
girl 2
Tajsha Thomas
Janice's friend
Frank W. Welker
parrot sounds
Ronny Cox
Franklin's boss
Warner Bros Distributors (UK)
9,438 feet
104 minutes 52 seconds
Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound/SDDS
Prints/Colour by
Super 35 [2.35:1]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011