I love Aliens and The Abyss; I’m a sucker for disaster and survival films, even if they aren’t wholly original. So, I was looking forward to watching Underwater. I caught it last night after rewatching Frozen 2 (and which I preferred to the original). But did I like Underwater?
In a word, no. I almost hated it.
And not because an early jump care had me actually yelping out loud. It’s because it’s a stupid story.
Without spoiling anything, if you’re a horror-Kaiji-Eldritch Creature-Geiger-fan, you might like this more than I did. And I’ve seen last-man-standing movies I really liked. This just isn’t one of them.
For one thing, even in the theater, it’s difficult to hear and see what’s going on for almost every action-set-piece in Underwater. Murky. Loud. Hard to follow. This is not acceptable in a feature film.
Also, I never grew to care about any particular character. That should never happen in an adventure ensemble. Remember how it took so little storytelling to care about all the Space Marines in Aliens? That was excellent exposition. Doesn’t happen here.
Then, the gory, hungry critters are bad. And not in the Borg way of cool-bad. Just…useless. What are they eating down there, 7 miles under the sea? How do they survive the pressure of the depths? What the holy hell is that ‘big one’ about? It’s played like a Balrog-Under-The-Sea. We delved too deep and all. Where’s Gandalf when you need him?
In Pitch Black (as a perfect sci-fi- horror-lite example) I enjoyed the narrative so much that I overlooked the environmental/food issues with the Xenomorphs in question. I couldn’t be bothered to let it go in Underwater. What were the nasty humanoids eating, besides a handful of lost sea drillers? I didn’t care. Ugh. I understood the digestion issue of swallowing things whole, but it grossed me out and felt like that was the entire point: to be icky, as far as the PG-13 bounds allow.
It’s a solid low-B range movie. Or a high C…so I should stop reviewing this now before I downgrade it. I just have higher standards for this kind of thing and never plan to watch it again.
Also, this isn’t the best vehicle to get Kristen Stewart out of of her Twilight doldrums, although she tried her best to be all Ripley here, underwear and all. I’m still unclear what her backstory is.
Boom! More boom! If that’s enough plot for you, you’ll enjoy this more than I did.
Movie Grade: B-
I recommend seeing Pitch Black (or Aliens) again instead for A+ examples of this genre done right:
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)