DEEP BLUE SEA -- *1/2 -- Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgard; rated R (violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity); Carmike 12, Creekside Center and Ritz 15 Theaters; Century16; Gateway 8 Cinemas; Loews Cineplex Midvalley, South Towne Center and Trolley Corners Cinemas; Redwood Drive-in (with "Wild Wild West").
There have been some dumb killer-animal movies made before it, but "Deep Blue Sea" could set a new industry low in that genre's intelligence level.(And by the way, the term "dumb killer-animal movie" is supposed to suggest that the film is the thing that's intelligence-challenged, not the beasts themselves.)
The irony here is that the filmmakers were obviously trying to come up with a smarter breed of killer beast flick -- the concept appears to be a melding of "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws." Instead, this dumbbell shlockfest comes across as blend of "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Jaws: The Revenge."
But it's not just a bad plot that dooms the film. It also features a horrible script and even more awful performances. And what's worse, its sketchy grasp on animal biology and behavior makes even "Anaconda" look like a documentary wildlife study.
Besides, you have to question any movie that features "Wing Commander" star Saffron Burrows as one of its lead characters. She plays Susan McAlester, a researcher conducting top-secret experiments on a trio of mako sharks, smaller but faster cousins to great whites.
Aboard the floating laboratory Aquatica, McAlester and her fellow scientists are hoping to find the key to the regeneration of human brain tissue, something they're hoping to glean from the genetically-engineered creatures.
Unfortunately for her and others onboard the lab, a sudden storm wreaks havoc on its electrical systems. And the intelligence-boosted predators pick that exact moment to strike back at their captors.
So a handful of survivors -- including McAlester, shark wrangler Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), chef Sherman "Preacher" Dudley (LL Cool J) and investor Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) -- try to evade the deadly killers while also seeking comfort as Aquatica continues to take on water.
Director Renny Harlin ("Cliffhanger," "The Long Kiss Goodnight") and the cast should have fun with this premise, but despite a few jolts and surprises, the story is too formulaic and predictable.
And what humor there is seems forced, while more serious moments become unintentionally hilarious, thanks to the inept dialogue and stupid plot developments.
Also, the CGI and animatronic sharks are certainly the film's one redeeming aspect. For one thing, they're much more lively than their human cast members, especially Burrows, whose wooden delivery makes her enigmatic character seem even more unlikable.
"Deep Blue Sea" is rated R for violent creature attacks and numerous explosions, some graphic gore, profanity and use of a vulgar gesture, as well as some questionable humor.