Underwater

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I remember going with two friends to see The Abyss in 1989. It was around midnight when we went to Denny’s afterwards and they couldn’t stop arguing about it. One hated it, one loved it. I thought it was okay, but director James Cameron had just come off doing the terrific Aliens, so maybe more was expected from The Abyss.

I wish I still hung out with those two guys, because I wonder if they’d argue, or agree with me that Underwater felt like a combination of Alien and The Abyss.

This story has an oil company drilling six miles beneath the ocean surface. A contemplative Kristen Stewart narrates her thoughts while brushing her teeth, but soon an earthquake (supposedly) destroys their underwater station. Soon there are creatures hunting them down.

It was a surprise to see T.J. Miller (Deadpool), who I thought had been banned from making movies after a series of crazy incidences. Something I found online said this movie was actually filmed three years ago, which would explain that.

This film felt a lot like an ‘80s action/sci-fi picture, including the fact that the Black member of the crew (Mamoudou Athie of The Front Runner) is the first to die (Oh. Spoiler Alert).

There were a few cheesy jump scares that didn’t do much, and there was a lack of a claustrophobic fear that a story like this needed. Now, the production design was solid. And Kristen Stewart is just as tough (and sexy) as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was in Alien (she also wears her underwear in this about 80% more than Ripley did).

Miller has those humorous lines he’s known for, and half of them work. The other half of the time he comes off as obnoxious, but I think that’s what they were shooting for with his character. 

It’s just a shame the movie has a rather shallow plot, and they don’t get too deep with the character development (see what I did there?). The most we learn about these folks is that one has a Corgi. Another has a 14-year-old daughter. And one likes stuffed bunnies and moon pies. 

The crew does all have decent chemistry, and they felt like a group that has been working together for months. The only problem I had was that Vincent Cassel, a terrific actor, who plays villains so often…I just kept wondering when we were going to find out he was an evil oceanographer sent down to these great depths to study these dangerous sea creatures and bring one back. Speaking of creatures, movies often are knocked for making aliens look like the one from Alien. These looked different enough, and one great scene where someone fights their way out of a creature’s belly, is kind of cool. And, there’s a huge creature that felt very Cloverfield-esque. It was rather interesting looking.

The film has nice pacing, and some of the action is cool.

Ultimately though, the film seems content to simply tread water. I’m only lukewarm on it, so…2 stars out of 5.

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