Review – Under the Sea, No One Can Hear You Yawn (“Underwater”)

If the premise of this movie sounds familiar (a deep-water research station or team meets a mean sea monster or creature), it should. It’s already been done before with the movies The Abyss, Leviathan, Deep Star Six, Lords of the Deep, The Rift, Alien, The Evil Below, and others. Well, so much for originality, huh?

We start with a deep-water drilling station (more like a city) seven miles down that uses nasty nuclear power to drill for precious minerals. Right off the bat, and without any warning, an earthquake (or is it??) strikes part of the station and only intrepid mechanical engineer Norah Price (Kristen Stewart) can save herself and workman Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie). Trying to escape, they find others: wisecracking Paul (T. J. Miller), nervous biologist Emily (Jessica Henwick), engineer Liam (John Gallagher, Jr.), and Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassell). With their station about to collapse, their only chance for survival is to do something completely insane; walk to the next station about a mile away to the only working escape pods.

Donning oversized-pressure suits, they start their dread sojourn when some weird stuff starts happening. En route, they find a little sea creature (which looks suspiciously like the chest-burster creature from Alien). Huh. Odd. But things increase in terror as their slow walk turns into carnage; some large humanoid/fishy thingy creature is picking-off the crew members one-by-one and Norah, being of stronger stuff than the others, takes point in trying to get what’s left of her friends to the rendezvous point and safety. With her oxygen supply running low, Cthulhu-faced mutant things attacking her, and dragging her half-dead pals to the next station, Norah has her hands full!

Y’know, I blame Alien & The Abyss. When those movies came out, they were so good, movies afterwards copycatted the same set-up and plot, so as to capture the same magic. They all failed. So it is with screenwriters Brian Duffield (Jane Got A Gun) and Adam Cozad (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit); they just took what was already out there in spades and gave it a different name. You have your Lt. Ripley character in Stewart’s Norah; strong, empowered, smart, saving all the guys and the day.

There’s nothing really new here: the humans are in great peril from a mysterious creature and must find a way to safety with out being eaten or absorbed, and it’s all up to one lone person to rescue them. Logic & physics be damned, there are enough plot holes to fill a submarine. A redeeming value is the dialogue which, surprisingly, is smart, sharp, and not what you’d expect in this kind of schlocky 50’s throwback boring creature feature.

William Eubank (Love, The Signal) isn’t a household name as he’s only directed two other unknown films, but he’s got a nice style to his camerawork. Being this movie is a retread of SO many others, you can see why it sat on the shelves for three years! I will say this though, the acting is quite good. Stewart swings for the fences here (despite the subject matter) and nails her role with sizzle, while you have Miller for the needed comic relief. I really must question the writers for using an old Hollywood ‘joke’ that actually plays out in this movie: the black guy dies first. Seriously? Athie was THE only person of color and you killed him off in act one? WTH?!

Leviathan (1989)

In the summer of 1989 James Cameron’s The Abyss exploded on the screen, so other studios decided to rip-off his movie. There was the awful Deep Star Six and this shameless & blatant rip-off of Alien. Starring a stellar cast and a deep-sea mutant creature you barley ever see, this movie arrived DOA at the theaters.

Two miles down in the ocean below, in a gigantic underwater facility, is the crew of the Tri-Oceanic Corp., mining silver and other precious ores. There’s supervisor & geologist Steven Beck (Peter Weller), Dr. Glen ‘Doc’ Thompson (Richard Crenna), Elizabeth ‘Willie’ Williams (Amanda Pays), horn-dog Buzz ‘Sixpack’ Parrish (Daniel Stearns), Justin Jones (Ernie Hudson), Tony DeJesus Rodero (Michael Carmine), Bridget Bowman (Lisa Eilbacher), and cynical G.P. Cobb (Hector Elizondo). With three days to go before their shift is up (and they get paid), Sixpack discovers the buried remains of the old Soviet ship, Leviathan.

The crew, using over-sized diving suits, salvages a safe from Leviathan, finding curious records detailing the deaths of several crew members. Sixpack also finds a flask of vodka which he shares with Bowman. Ooo!! Bad move there, Sixpack! Y’see that wasn’t vodka, pal! That was a Soviet experiment gone horribly bad. How bad? Well, it kills both Sixpack and Bowman and slowly alters them genetically into some crazy kind of mutant shrimp/fish/human hybrid monster that has eel tentacles! Needless to say, this thing starts to grow and pick-off the crew members one-by-one as they attempt to escape their underwater tomb. You never really get a good look at the creature, as it’s only shown in the shadows, in quick passing shots, or in smash edits. Yeah, it’s that’s stupid looking.

It was a shame, really, considering the creature was made by the Stan Winston Studios, famous for making the Terminator metal skeleton, the Predator, and the Queen alien in Aliens. Here, the sea creature looks like something from a bad 60’s Italian-made sci-fi movie. The script, written by David Peoples (12 Monkeys) and Jeb Stuart (Die Hard) is about as generic a script as you can get, practically plagiarizing the original Alien script, right down to the ships company mining ore, discovering another ship–with a warning, bringing an alien on board, a ‘chest-burster’ scene, their company screwing them, and using flame-throwers to attack the creature onboard!

George P. Cosmatos, who is known primarily for his wickedly cool 1993 Tombstone movie with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, doesn’t have any fun here and just films a dumb underwater monster movie with a bunch of really good actors who needed a paycheck. I’m guessing he knew this film was a dog, so he didn’t really try, hence the mediocre and lackluster scenes. There’s a whole hour to wait before any action takes place! It bombed at the box office, as you might expect, as did the others that tried to copycat The Abyss.

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