Ben: Nearly two decades after Deep Blue Sea first released, fans of the super smart shark horror film – like Lauren and I – were happily surprised when Syfy announced a sequel. It was… Not great. Now, in the year of our Lord 2020, a third Deep Blue Sea has just dropped on VOD. Is the trilogy capper (I’m honestly in shock that we have a Deep Blue Sea trilogy now) a dumb fun adventure like the original, or just dumb like Deep Blue Sea 2? Read on to see what Lauren and I think.
Lauren: I’m just gonna say it: Deep Blue Sea 3 is not a great movie. For starters, the plot is unsurprisingly stupid. That alone won’t sink a film when it comes to this genre or franchise, but the fact that I was constantly asking some version of “why the Hell did they do that?” was becoming a bit of a distracting problem as the characters continued to prove that maybe it’s not that the sharks are getting smarter – sharks that can recognize what a mine is and that a weapon being pointed at another as a threat, but not that a tracking beacon is not their mom, mind you – so much as that humans are getting dumber. Secondly, there are maybe three likeable characters in the film, and that’s only if you add two characters who deserved far more screen time than they were given together (one being Sally the great white shark, the other being Nandi, whose actress, Avumile Qongqo, isn’t even currently listed on the IMDb page even though she has far more lines than the upper half of another actor who did make the cut). Suffice it to say, about half way through the movie I was ready to start this writeup with “welp, Deep Blue Sea 3 is pretty forgettable, but at least it isn’t the soaking wet sewage fire that is Deep Blue Sea 2?”
But then the second half happened; and JFC, once the sharks start hitting the fan the movie becomes pretty much everything I wanted and more. And when I say more, I mean jaw dropped guffaws of flabbergasting more.
Ben: I definitely agree with you on the movie’s the back half, Lauren. Once it builds up its momentum, Deep Blue Sea 3 turns into a wonderfully cheesy and surprisingly hilarious action-horror romp that had me gasping or laughing quite often. There are a handful of deaths throughout Deep Blue Sea 3 that are almost as great as the original’s best (which is one of my all-time favorites) and the action surrounding those untimely demises is solidly entertaining too. I honestly couldn’t believe how over the top this movie was getting as I watched it, and how much fun I was having. Even as I write this, just remembering the sheer insanity of it all puts yet another smile on my face.
Now, while I would also agree that the characters are less than solid and guilty of making a whole bunch of decisions that no half-rational person would (like swimming directly behind a machine that’s churning out seal chum) I’m not completely with you on the first half. Throughout its entire runtime, Deep Blue Sea 3 carries itself with a certain level of self-awareness that makes it tolerable, and often enjoyable at times. In my opinion, it’s horror shlock done right. I feel like director John Pogue and writer Dirk Blackman saw all the egregious missteps of Deep Blue Sea 2 (unbearable characters, horrifyingly bad dialogue, and minimal use of sharks), made a conscious effort to appease fans of the franchise, and succeeded. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece or anything, but it’s far more entertaining than I expected it to be.
Lauren: And unfortunately I’d argue that this installation makes a lot of the same mistakes, just maybe to a less degree. The first half of the film felt more interested in building drama between the characters with their storied and somewhat connected pasts, their moral high grounds, and their various degrees of corrupted motivations, as opposed to focusing on the survival of everyone on this manmade island that is now being circled by some rather intimidating, though MIA, sharks. And as for horrifyingly bad dialogue, Deep Blue Sea 3 does give us one of the most groan worthy lines ever with “Little Happy meet Big Unhappy.” But hey, at least the man who said this stinker had the sudden, random depths of just being a kickboxing fanatic hellbent on doing whatever it takes to destroy his fishy targets – the fact he doesn’t roundhouse a bull shark is this film’s biggest black eye (besides naming the main character’s web videos “Waterblog” and not “Waterblogged,” which just sounds better) – as opposed to believing we should experiment on shark brains to further our own intellectual evolution in preparation to combat the impending Judgement Day (I think that was the motivation in the second film?).
Oh, and the CGI of those now all grown up baby sharks from Deep Blue Sea 2 has vastly improved. Thank God.
In the end, I just think that the first and second half of Deep Blue Sea 3 are two very different films, with the instigating swan dive into the latter half finally pushing the movie into the realm of sharkshit crazy, standout moments that are on the correct side of idiotically ridiculous. Idiotically ridiculous dumb fun, not idiotically ridiculous to the point of angry, exasperated frustration. And I wish the entirety of the film had been that enjoyable for me.
Ben: I can definitely see what you’re saying, but, for me at least, Deep Blue Sea 3’s tongue in cheek attitude makes even its worst parts bearable, and its best parts just that much more entertaining. It knows it’s dumb, and never tries to convince you otherwise. All it wants is for you to enjoy the ride, which I definitely did. A lot of these low-budget VOD horror flicks fail because they take themselves too seriously, as if they’re trying to be legitimately good films (like Deep Blue Sea 2), or they go so far out of their way to be dumb that it loses all the fun (like Sharknado), but Deep Blue Sea 3 threads the needle and lands somewhere in between. I certainly won’t be rewatching it as often as the original, but I also don’t regret watching it.
And oh my God, yes, the special effects are drastically improved this time around. I think they’re actually great for a direct-to-streaming movie like this. The sharks, explosions, and everything else looked pretty believable, with only a few wonky shark shots that added some unintended, yet still appreciated, laughs. Even including those weaker shots, the visuals in Deep Blue Sea 3 are leagues beyond the shitshow sharks in Deep Blue Sea 2. The same can be said for the camera work, lighting, and virtually everything else.
With all that said and done, it looks like Lauren and I are a little less in agreement on Deep Blue Sea 3 than we were with its predecessors. Regardless, we both had plenty of fun with it.
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