Over the long 4th of July Weekend, amidst all the patriotic revelry, debauchery, and fireworks displays, I took the time to watch a couple of truly entertaining movies to relax and recuperate. Amongst this mini-marathon, I may have just stumbled on one of the greatest movies of all time.
Deep Blue Sea (1999) may not be considered a great movie by conventional standards, but it was one of the most enjoyable film experiences I’ve had in a while. It is a true juggernaut in the under-explored “genetically altered animals trying to kill us” genre, and it would probably never get a theatrical release today. Thankfully, though, the 90’s were like the Wild West, and all it took to release a movie was to have a semi-successful rapper in a major role. Before I go way too far into it, here are the vital stats for LL Cool J’s first blockbuster, for those of you that haven’t been fortunate enough to watch this masterpiece.
Deep Blue Sea
Year Released: 1999
Budget: $60 Million
Box Office: $164.6 Million (IT MADE 100 MILLION DOLLARS)
A group of scientists (and a chef) get trapped in a storm on the remote aquatic lab Aquatica. The scientists have been testing cures for Alzheimer’s disease on giant Mako sharks. Despite warnings/ethical concerns, Dr. Susan McAlester enhances the brain size of three sharks, which turns them into expert killing machines hell-bent on escape and destruction. The group must band together to kill the sharks and escape, before the ocean predators hunt them down.
Hero: Chef Sherman “Preacher” Dudley, the extremely religious head chef at the Aquatica, who is played by the magnificent LL Cool J. After his pet parrot (named Bird) is slaughtered by one of the sharks, Preacher seeks revenge. Despite no formal training, and seemingly having never met the scientists at the lab, Preacher leads the assault against the sharks. He manages to slay two of the three sharks, and is one of only two survivors on the base.
Villain(s): The super-intelligent, vicious, angry sharks; The scientists who thought it was a good idea to increase the brain capacity of FUCKING SHARKS
Best/Worst Death: In a death widely voted as one of the greatest movie deaths of all time, Samuel L. Jackson’s brief cameo ends when, mid-inspirational speech, he is OBLITERATED by one of the sharks.
Best Kill: Preacher defies the laws of nature and, despite being nearly submerged in water, tosses a lit lighter across his kitchen and explodes a shark. I’m not entirely sure how it works, but it’s incredible.
*Honorable Mention: LL Cool J stabs a shark in the eye with his crucifix. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite kill the shark in that scene.
Best Line(s): “Take me back to the ghetto,” “Bring me some sushi,” “You killed my bird”-all from Preacher (of course)
Resolution: LL Cool J and his co-star/co-hero, a shark-wrangler who wears sleeveless wetsuits in sub-zero waters (because #biceps), hang out on the remains of Aquatica, waiting to be rescued. They both have pretty gruesome leg injuries, and have witnessed absolutely horrific things, but are very content as guys being dudes.
Maybe it’s not perfect, but Deep Blue Sea is the bison burger of movie scripts– there’s no fat, no extra filler, no time wasted. Every minute of the film is crucial to the story. We don’t get weighed down by scene upon scene of exposition, and they don’t even waste time on a conclusion of the movie! It’s revolutionary. Instead of showing a broken and battered LL Cool J getting transported to the hospital, grieving about his lost coworkers, and possibly hinting at a sequel, the writers knew better. They just had him say “Take me back to the ghetto” as the screen faded to black. And over the credits? An original rap, done exclusively for the movie, by LL Cool J himself!
I would call the film an emotional roller coaster, but I don’t know if that really does it justice. It’s more of an emotional tea cup ride. We are constantly spinning around, not quite sure if we are having fun or want to throw up, praying for the ride to slow down while constantly pushing it to spin faster. There are only four humans that die in the film, but MAN do they make it count. The scientists are innocently chatting in the lab and BOOM! the first scientist has his arm taken off. Samuel L. Jackson is giving an emotional, motivational speech and BANG! he gets chomped in two. At the very end of the movie, when you finally start to have a little sympathy for Dr. McAlester, and start to think that the sexual tension of the movie may have a final pay-off, she becomes shark bait too! I couldn’t believe they spent $60 million to make this bad boy, but it was incredibly well executed. Unlike the new Independence Day (which I still have yet to see), I give this one 5 stars without hesitation.
All kidding aside, I strongly urge Hollywood to start considering making more movies like these. Right now, all the money is spent on blockbusters that are pretty uniformly terrible, and often aren’t even that entertaining. I’d rather go spend my $13 dollars to go watch rappers fight off killer sharks for 90 minutes than fall asleep through a 2-and-a-half hour snoozefest about superheroes. We are already rebooting and remaking so many movies, why not bring back this under-appreciated genre of films?
Gifs: Giphy, Misantropey, Tumblr