Because I love starting recurring columns, that never recur: here's a new one! Welcome to "Sorry, Not Sorry" where we'll discuss the horrible things we love....with no apologies.
1998's Deep Rising isn't a great movie. It's not a bad movie. It's a meh movie. BUT for some reason I have to re-watch it: Every. Time. I. Find. It. Streaming.
I can't tell you why, but like the people that made this movie, I'll try.
Upon each subsequent viewing I find more and more wrong with it, but alas, here we are. I just watched Deep Rising again this afternoon. I was scrolling through HBOGo just minding my own business, I see Deep Rising and I'm like "oh, that's cool, I'll add that to my watchlist" annnnnnnnnnnnd I'm watching it again.
It's kind of a monster movie. It's kind of an action movie. It's trying really hard to be a comedy. It does all of these things to varying degrees.
The story goes like this:
There's this big cruise ship sailing about in a storm filled to the brim with rich people. There's this hot lady-thief there to empty the ship's safe. She gets caught and locked in the pantry. There are strange groans and growls coming from the sea. Suddenly something goes wrong...
A few miles away we find our rugged hero getaway-boat-captain shuttling his tiny boat's crew towards an unknown destination with a group of mercenaries on board. They run across the cruise ship after their boat is damaged and head aboard looking for a way to repair their ship. Something's not right. The vessel is deserted save for a few survivors. As they search for clues they find themselves being picked off one by one by something...blah, blah, blah.
You get the gist. There's some crazy monster from the deep lurking about and this ragtag group of criminals and crew must find a way off the boat. The monster is...interesting. It's like a giant squid...thing. It'd be scarier if the digital effects didn't look like some PS2-era video game cutscene. The movie could have been soooooo much better if they had put that CGI budget towards some practical effects. This movie came out four years after Jurassic Park so there's really no excuse. Somehow that low-res look, however laughable, adds to the charm. There aren't really any tense moments, but there are spaces for them. They're trying. So hard. For instance, there a scene when one of the thief-ship's crew is trying to repair the damage (the massive 4x6 foot hole) in the side of their ship and is attacked/eaten. She's welding an angled piece of the hull to...nothing. She's literally just running the welder/blowtorch over the surface of the metal all while water (up to her waist) sloshes over her work surface. She hears that aforementioned groan from the ocean and we know her time has come, but all I can think about is how in the hell did she intend to fix that gaping hole! Maybe it was some kind of new fangled metal that you could just heat up and stretch to mend like Billy Mays' Mighty Putty. This isn't the only instance of "tension" during metalwork. At almost the same time our captain, now aboard the cruise ship, is heating up a pipe and banging on it, somehow crafting a part to repair his ship's engine. He's actually banging the roundness out of the pipe. Not quite sure what that's supposed to fix, but while he works the monster strategically picks off another couple of mercenaries. Somehow, I'm still invested.
The dialog might be the best part. What better example could I offer than the THREE times "___________, my ass" is used in the span of 90 seconds. "You know what badass sea-people would say to each other? 'My ass' after they hear something ridiculous." Later on, during some of that tense welding, we get this hilarious exchange:
Hero Captain: What you got there?
Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut...
Hero Captain: Peanut?
Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut.
Hero Captain: Okay, peanut...
Comedic Relief Mechanic: [drops his peanut in the water] Shit!
Some gut-busting stuff, I know. For some strange reason though...I laugh, or maybe that's too generous...let's say a smile creeps across my face, but a genuine smile nevertheless. There's a certain lameness to every line delivered in Deep Rising, but it's the confidence with which they are delivered that earns that smile. Deep Rising is one hour and forty five minutes of Dad-jokes.
The cast and crew of Deep Rising is a veritable smorgasbord of "hey, it's that guy!" guys. Stephen Sommers is behind both the camera and word processor on this one pulling double duty as writer and director. You might not know his name, but Sommers scored a pretty big hit the following year with The Mummy. He's still active in Hollywood having most recently directed Odd Thomas which I rather enjoyed. Treat Williams stars as our wisecracking hero captain. No one can deliver Dad-jokes like a guy that looks like a friend of your Dad's. I mean this sincerely: Treat is a reel treat (I think that was a Dad-joke). Famke Janssen stars as hot lady-thief and love interest to Treat Williams. Oh, did I not mention that they manage to shoehorn a romance into this sea monster madness? Yeah, love blooms on a corpse-filled boat. Director Stephen Sommers must have taken a shine to comic relief mechanic Kevin J. O'Connor because O'Connor makes an appearance in several other Sommers joints throughout the years. This love affair may have actually been sparked years before when O'Connor (and Famke Janssen) played a role in Sommers' Lord of Illusions. The cast is rounded out with Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Cliff Curtis (Sunshine).
Deep Rising closes with *spoilers* our two lovebirds escaping to a "deserted" island in the middle of the ocean only to be greeted with the rustling of trees in the distance as something huge makes its way across the island. Deep Rising was so sure of itself that it went ahead and filmed a ready-for-sequel ending. It's that self confidence that makes me love Deep Rising. I feel like I was onto something with the Dad-joke reference. Deep Rising is the "Dad" of movies: it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's not exciting, but dammit, you love it anyway.
Deep Rising is available for streaming on HBOGo.