“I hope this isn’t some 20,000 leagues Under the Sea shit.” - Paul
Nope, it certainly isn’t THAT. But I bet it wishes it was.
Released without any fanfare at all, and understandably drowned under Birds of Prey, Underwater is a mixture of a disaster movie and a monster movie. It takes place presumably in the future, where an ambition underwater mining platform is working in the Mariana Trench. Okay, let’s ponder this for a second. The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of any ocean anywhere on the planet. At its deepest, it’s around seven miles down, and the water pressure is around two tons per square inch. To date, I understand only two people, in a deep dive submersible have ever reached the ocean floor in the trench, which is located in the Western Pacific Ocean. Keep that in mind for a little later on, okay?
In the deep-sea mining platform, we meet Norah, an engineer played by Kristen Stewart. Now I have to admit she isn’t my favourite actress. I find her bland, frankly. Not quite as much of a talentless drip as Sophie Turner, but she comes very close. Her performance here is pretty much the same monotone sleepwalk she does in every other film, and I don’t understand why productions keep casting her. Every time I see her, she looks miserably tetchy, like she’s in the middle of her period.
Disaster strikes when part of the installation collapses and floods. With Stewart sporting the same kind of crew cut Sigourney Weaver had in Alien 3, it soon becomes obvious that she’s in full-on strong female lead mode here, despite her inability to actually act. She starts to gather survivors one of whom is Paul, played by T.J. Miller. Miller is another actor I’ve long had a problem with. On the Silicon Valley TV show, he played Erlich Bachman a fast-talking sarcastic a-hole. He played the same type of role in both Deadpool films as Weasel, the bartender, and again in Transformers: Age of Extinction. I’ve seen a televised show of his stand-up comedy routine, and basically, he’s not acting. He is a smug, sarcastic, one-note a-hole. Sadly, it’s the same routine here. Between him being his teeth grindingly annoying self and Stewart blanking out the fact she’s in a film, parts of the movie are tough going.
Finding more survivors, they realise that the escape pods are all gone – but there are more in a site a distance away. And the only way to get there is…ready for this? To walk. Remember what I said earlier? Seven miles deep, two tons per square inch for pressure? Yep. Walk. Even better, at one stage they even manage to run.
So, in their special deep, deep, DEEEEEP underwater suits, they venture out and the film becomes a tepid Alien/Aliens imitation because they find that the cause of the disaster is a race of bipedal sea creatures never before encountered. In their baby form, they are the spitting image of the Alien chest burster. And they’re understandably hostile in both baby and adult form. I guess they must’ve had their habitat disturbed by the mining. (Hmmm, wasn’t that a Star Trek episode fifty-three years or so ago?)
Relentlessly, they begin to pick off the crew. And this highlights sharply how little character development there is in the film, because I found I really didn’t care who died, because I wasn’t invested in any of them. They were as two dimensional as the teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie, only slightly worse, because you couldn’t actually see who was being taken due to the face obscuring helmets and the rapid editing. Also, seven miles down, can you REALLY hear a monster growl and shriek?
Despite the hard slog, the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the film are surprisingly good, channelling heavily in to H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. So, despite the film being lukewarm throughout, the final spectacle leaves you feeling a little more satisfied than the beginning and the seemingly interminable middle.
In the final analysis it isn’t a film I can enthusiastically recommend you march right down to the multiplex to watch immediately with any credibility. But when it does the rounds on satellite, home video and streaming – there are worse ways to while away a rainy day.
Copyright © 2010 - 2020 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.