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(1998) (Treat Williams, Famke Janssen) (R)

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Horror: A team of thieves encounters a monstrous, octopus-like creature on board the cruise ship they initially intended to rob.
John Finnegan (TREAT WILLIAMS) is the wisecracking captain of a PT boat that's been hired to transport a group of heavily armed thieves, led by their stalwart commander, Hanover (WES STUDI), into the middle of the South China Sea. Never asking questions if the pay is good, Finnegan and Joey Pantucci (KEVIN J. O'CONNER), his chief mechanic, are unaware that Hanover and his men are headed for the Argonautica, a cruise ship on her maiden voyage that they intend to rob. Nor do they realize that monstrous sea creatures have attacked the ship and killed nearly everyone on board. Once on the ship, Finnegan, Hanover, and the others discover that fact and then realize that the creatures are still inside with them. Encountering a glamorous jewel thief, Trillian (FAMKE JANSSEN), and the ship's owner, Nigel Carlton (ANTHONY HEALD), both of whom managed to survive, this small group of people must do what they can to avoid the monsters' attacks and get off the boat before it sinks.
If they like monster movies (in the "Aliens" vein) they just might.
For sci-fi violence and gore.
With the exception of TREAT WILLIAMS' character and his crew (who take jobs transporting less than scrupulous people without asking questions), the rest of the characters are mostly mean- spirited people involved in attempts to rob the ship's vaults.


OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Talk about bad timing. No, we're not thinking about the cast of characters who just so happen to board a cruise ship teaming with a horde of hungry critters. We're actually referring to Hollywood Pictures latest release, "Deep Rising," that might as well be called "Shallow Chances." For that best describes its prospects at the domestic box office against that other film about a sinking ocean liner -- um, now what's that one called again? In a bold, but suicidal move, Disney (the parent company) has decided to "damn the torpedoes" and go full steam ahead knowing full well that the waters into which they're sailing are littered with the sunken hulls of other films that dared take on the mighty Titanic. Beyond the timing and the fact that this film deals with a sinking ocean liner, there's also the problem that it has nary an original bone in its body, all of which doesn't bode well for its ability to stay afloat for very long in this competitive sea.

To give it some credit, though, the film makers obviously didn't know they'd face this situation and the film, in all honesty, is of a completely different genre. Still, the movie doesn't stand a chance and should make its way rather quickly to the video shelves. Actually, that's not such a bad thing for that's exactly what type of film this is -- a great video rental. Not pretending to be anything near high art, this movie is nothing more than a conglomeration of scenes and ideas ripped straight out of other, far superior movies.

Watching this picture you can't help but be reminded of the "Alien" movies (heavily armed men walking through wet, dimly lit corridors), the recent giant snake film, "Anaconda," and of course, the doomed cruise ship movies such as "Titanic" and "The Poseidon Adventure" (not to mention the last resurgence of movies featuring underwater monsters such as "Leviathan" and "Deep Star Six" from the late '80's). So many scenes and/or concepts are lifted from all of those films that at times you wonder if you're watching a "greatest moments" montage or perhaps a film that's spoofing those other movies (please, let's not have anyone do that, okay?).

Since the film lacks any originality (other than the special effects involving the creature's appearance that I'll get into in a moment), it decides to make up for the deficiency by pumping up the sound effects (and Jerry Goldsmith's score) as well as the level of "B" movie spunk rarely seen in a "major release." Like I said, this is your stereotypical video rental movie, and if taken on that level, you might just get a kick out of it.

If a film is going to play on that level, it certainly can't have anyone from the "A" list of available actors, but instead must pick and choose from people we recognize, but often can't place in even the last film in which they appeared. Headlining the cast is a great potential "B" movie star, Treat Williams (a two time Golden Globe nominee). Knowing that nobody's going to take this film seriously and that he shouldn't either, Williams sufficiently hams it up in his "I'm getting too old for this stuff" character. When he states that his motto is, "If the cash is there, we don't care," you know exactly what type of character and plot are in store for us.

Famke Janssen (who made a big splash in the James Bond film "Goldeneye") isn't given much to do other than look pretty, but at least she's not the stereotypical "damsel in distress" character. Kevin J. O'Connor ("Lord of Illusions") gets to play and provide the comic relief and has enough funny lines to easily make him the favorite with the audience. Wes Studi ("Dances With Wolves"), however, can't do much with the stereotypical tough guy villain character he's been given, and just plays out his role note by note. The rest of the "bad guys" come from that secret farm where they breed stereotypical tough guys often found in action or "B" movies. Easily interchangeable, but always dangerous and given a few attempts at being funny, these characters (and the people who inhabit them) do their job as being nothing more than bait for the monsters.

Speaking of the film's main attraction, this film's special effects team has delivered a creation that's certainly what director Richard Fleischer and his crew on "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," and special effects guru Ray Harryhausen (1955's "It Came From Beneath The Sea" -- the giant octopus film) would have loved to have used back in their heyday of special effects. Denting metal doors and walls, zipping through the flooded passageways, and generally slithering and whipping about all about the screen, this is the kind of critter guaranteed to give little kids nightmares and FX (special effects) geeks heart palpitations.

It's also another reason the film's suited for home video. The creature moves and tears along in such a blur that a good frame by frame analysis on video is highly needed to see what it's actually doing. If you imagine a crossbreed of Jules Verne's octopus, the snake from "Anaconda" and those fun subterranean creatures from "Tremors," then you'll come close to what this beast is all about.

Despite the fact that we know exactly who will survive and how they'll eventually kill the monster, writer/director Stephen Sommers (the live action version of "The Jungle Book") doesn't show his hand until well into the movie. That fortunately works for the film as we somewhat wonder what the "little fellas" look like, and it lets our imagination do most of the work. Of course we eventually have to see the creatures, and fortunately they're such a "fun" creation that we aren't too disappointed by their appearance (as often happens in similar films).

Sommers definitely knows what his audience wants and adequately delivers the goods -- it's just too bad that he didn't throw anything original into the mix. Beyond the borrowing of scenes and ideas from other films, he unfortunately also provides the customary stupid and illogical behavior that most of the characters exhibit. While it's not quite as bad as the typical horror film -- these characters don't have enough time to react that way -- there are plenty of those precious moments.

When the survivors find themselves in a large room filled to the brim with human remains they just stand there. I'd be saying something like, "Gee, here's the monster's cafeteria -- do any of you guys think, you know, that maybe we should leave -- like right now!" The moment that received the largest collection of groans was when the ship's owner -- when not being the evil opportunist or cowering in stereotypical fear -- spots an island and confidently states, "An island!"

I think the best moment, though, is when Finnegan has discovered that another person has been killed and sits down to ponder and reflect on the day's events (never minding the fact that the creature is about to get him). Of course there's the prime moment when the movie completely hits the depths of "B" movie status, and that's when the creatures suddenly get smart and start closing and sealing off doors to herd the survivors in a particular direction. Had they been smart all along that would have been another matter. Of course I haven't even begun with the fact that the creatures killed several thousand people in a manner of minutes, yet can't quite finish off those last remaining, pesky humans. Perhaps their appetites have been satiated and their motivation is low. Or maybe they read the script, discovered the ending, and figured, "What's the difference anyway?"

Then there's the fact that the survivors desperately want to get off the big cruise ship and board an adjacent, but inoperable and definitely smaller ship. I suppose they can't fathom that those same critters might be on the small boat simply because they didn't read through the script all the way to the end. Speaking of that bigger vessel, this feature does miss the boat (okay, pun intended) by not utilizing the sinking ship aspect even more. While there are a few moments of that, they really should have played that element to the full hilt -- after all, if you've got some sort of giant, octopus-like creature with man-eating tentacles chasing your cast, why not throw in a full-fledged panic by having the ship rapidly sinking?

I suppose it's probably unfair to point out all of those problems since the movie never tries to be anything but a stupidly fun, escapist film. It does succeed on that level -- it's just too bad the film makers couldn't up with something we haven't seen before. If you like films such as "Aliens" where heavily armed guys fire several gazillion rounds of ammo at the creatures that slowly but surely hunt them down and kill them in dark, wet corridors, then this film is for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for the quality or imaginative thrust of those other films, you'd be better off renting them instead. Of course, if you wait just a bit, this one should be there on the shelves alongside them shortly. We give "Deep Rising" a 3 out of 10.

This is definitely not a film for younger kids, the squeamish, or the faint of heart. Filled with many scenes of the creatures chasing after, attacking, killing and/or eating their human victims alive, this is truly some nightmare inducing, stomach churning material. Not surprisingly then, the movie is extremely bloody and gory. Profanity is extreme, as is the violence and use of weapons, both of which permeate the film.

Beyond those elements (that encompasses most of the film), there's some brief nudity in the form of pinups seen on a wall (bare breasts from a distance) as well as some bad attitudes (many people trying to rob the ship's vaults). Older teens who've already seen similar films (the "Alien" movies or other such pictures) probably won't have any problem with the material, but younger kids will probably have plenty of bad dreams after seeing this. Thus, we suggest that you read through the scene listings to determine if the material is okay for anyone in your home who may wish to see this release.

  • People have a variety of drinks inside the cruise ship.
  • Trillian drinks champagne right from the bottle.
  • Finnegan states that if/when he gets out of this predicament, he wants a cold beer.
  • There are many instances where the men shoot the creatures and lots of blood and/or goo erupts from their bodies.
  • There are also several scenes where we see the bloody carcasses of people who have been killed and/or partially eaten by the creatures, including an enormous room filled with hundreds of bloody, skeletal remains. In one scene, a man accidentally steps on, and squashes, a human head.
  • One of Hanover's men throws up from being seasick.
  • We briefly see a woman stitching up a small wound on Joey's head.
  • Several people are bloody after being thrown about the ship after the creature rams into it.
  • Blood splatters everywhere when a woman is pulled down through a toilet.
  • The men find pools of blood on the ship.
  • There are several instances where we see blood mixing with the water that's flooded parts of the ship.
  • We see a man with a hatchet in his head (a little bloody).
  • The creature spits out a man who's been partially digested (but is still alive). Some of his head is missing and we can partially see through his bloody hand.
  • We see a dismembered arm underwater.
  • A man's leg is bloody from being shot.
  • Another man's leg is very bloody from being broken.
  • Obviously Hanover, his men, and his accomplice on board have both as they plan on robbing the ship.
  • Likewise, Trillian, who's noted for being wanted for burglary, extortion, forgery, and attempted murder, also tries to rob the ship's vault (after pickpocketing the captain).
  • A bad guy refers to a woman as "chick with the muscles."
  • A man shoots another man in the leg so that the creature will get that second man instead of him.
  • The appearance of the writhing sea monsters that have tentacles with horrific mouths on each end, may induce nightmares in younger children if they're allowed to see it.
  • Likewise, there are many scenes where the humans are hunted down and/or chased by the creatures that will have the same effect on younger kids and/or adults who aren't crazy about such suspense scenes. Additionally, there are several scenes where people are eaten or swallowed by the creatures.
  • The appearance of many bloody human carcasses might have the same effect.
  • There are also many scenes where people wade through the flooded hallways or other areas of the ship where the creatures may be lurking.
  • Most of Hanover's crew severely punches and kicks Joey after they catch him snooping around their cargo. Finnegan then punches one of them and holds a spear gun to one of their heads. The others then pull their guns on him and one holds his knife to Joey's throat.
  • The creature spits out a man who's been partially digested (but is still alive and screaming). Some of his head is missing and we can partially see through his bloody hand.
  • In one scene, the survivors have to swim underwater (inside the cruise ship) for some distance while the creatures try to get them both above and below the water.
  • The survivors must deal with flood waters that quickly race through the corridors.
  • Several survivors encounter the large "mother" monster that attacks them.
  • Handguns/Knives/Flaregun: Used to threaten or wound people.
  • Torpedoes: Brought by the bad guys with the intention of sinking the cruise ship.
  • Assault rifles: Heavily used throughout the film to shoot at the creatures.
  • Phrases: "Shut the "f" up," "Bitch" "Chick" and "Trollop" (toward women), "Bloody," "Idiot," "Shut up," "Grease monkey," "Bastards," "Screwed up" and "Screwing around" (nonsexual), "Geez Louise" and "Wanker."
  • A female crew member gives Finnegan "the finger."
  • Some people gamble on board the cruise ship.
  • Two men purposefully make a third man, who's suffering from seasickness, throw up again.
  • Some of Hanover's men "playfully" (as in being macho) hold knives or gun to the other's body.
  • Trillian uses a little metal tool to short circuit an electrical panel.
  • A man tries to commit suicide with a gun.
  • A dead body pops up out of the water and scares a woman.
  • Some cables fall down onto a man.
  • A tentacle pops out between two people.
  • A person is suddenly grabbed by his shirt.
  • There is a heavy amount of scary and suspenseful music throughout much of the film.
  • None.
  • At least 9 "f" words (1 used with "mother"), 30 "s" words, 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 34 hells, 13 asses (2 used with "hole"), 11 damns, 6 S.O.B.'s, 2 craps, and 4 uses of "G-damn," 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 uses each of "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus," and 1 use each of "My God," "Oh God," "For God's sakes," "Swear to God," and "God" as exclamations.
  • Trillian's dress shows a little bit of cleavage.
  • One of Hanover's men states that his goal in life is to make love to a woman from every country in the world, and later spying a Korean woman, he says that he'll watch her since "I haven't done Korea."
  • We see some nude pinups on a wall in the cruise ship and do see bare breasts (somewhat from a distance) and one of Hanover's men says, "Which one of you ladies wants to warm me up?"
  • A passenger on board the ship smokes and tosses his cigarette into the ocean.
  • There are a few scenes where the bad guys have a smoke.
  • None.
  • Whether or not such creatures exist (the film begins with some written words mentioning the unexplained disappearances of many ships throughout the years).
  • The movie is filled with many scenes of people being attacked, killed and/or eaten by the creatures.
  • Conversely, there are many scenes where the humans fire their assault rifles, throw their grenades, etc... at the creatures and graphically injure or kill them.
  • Most of Hanover's crew severely punches and kicks Joey after they catch him snooping around their cargo. Finnegan then punches one of them and holds a spear gun to one of their heads. The others then pull their guns on him and one holds his knife to Joey's throat.
  • Carlton punches Trillian.
  • The creature hits the bottom of the boat and sends the passengers falling and crashing through various parts of the ship. Others are trampled in the hallways as people panic and try to get out.
  • A woman is killed as she's pulled down through a toilet.
  • Several boats explode in different scenes.
  • The men riddle the inside of the cruise ship with machine gun fire.
  • A bad guy grabs Trillian by the throat and holds his gun to her chest, threatening her.
  • A man is hit in the head with a hatchet and three other people are shot with machine guns.
  • Trillian hits Joey in the face, while Finnegan knees a bad guy in the gut or crotch.
  • An elevator falls many floors and crashes at the bottom.
  • A bad guy grabs Canton by the throat.
  • Several grenades explode in different scenes, killing or wounding the creatures.
  • A man shoots another man in the leg.
  • A man shoots a flare gun at another person.

  • Reviewed January 26, 1998

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