A drilling crew must escape disaster in this fun but shallow thriller.
At the bottom of the Mariana Trench, mechanical engineer Norah (Kristen Stewart: Charlie’s Angels) is brushing her teeth when the building explodes around her. The crew is in the deepest part of the ocean, which means the pressure outside will crush them immediately, and the building is badly damaged and collapsing rapidly. The bad news is that whatever caused the problem is still banging around outside.
Norah crawls through rubble toward the escape pod bay, collecting survivors as she goes. When they discover all the pods are being used or damaged, they must choose between waiting for a rescue crew to find them before their building collapses or don pressurized suits and attempt to cross the Mariana Trench in the dark to reach another drilling rig a mile away.
As the crew ventures into the abyss, they begin to suspect an earthquake didn’t cause the disaster. Did their drilling wake something from the depths below?
If this movie seems familiar… congratulations! You’ve seen Alien. Underwater has no compunctions about referencing the classic horror movie, and in some cases borrowing scenarios. There’s the strong woman that no one listens to (Stewart), the kind but blindly optimistic captain (Vincent Cassel: The Specials), the hysterical woman and the comedic relief. They are all there and director William Eubank (The Signal) isn’t interested in developing them.
The characterizations are sparse—this is a flick about plot and you won’t get much backstory about the characters. In fact, the development they do get hurts the overall film. TJ Miller (Deadpool 2) is woefully miscast as the comic relief and his jokes fall flat. The film’s rapid-fire pace doesn’t allow for jokes.
While Underwater plumbs the depths of genre horror, it’s a movie that knows exactly what it is. The plot is snappy, the action good and the cinematography interesting. There’s no pretense here, it’s a well-executed B-movie inspired by Alien.
Underwater isn’t a great film, but it’s far from the waterlogged fare usually available during the January box office dead zone. It’s a solid, watchable little suspense flick that will probably garner an audience when it arrives on a streaming service. While I’m skeptical that you should pay box office prices to see it, keep an eye out for it once it makes it to a streaming service – this is a film suited to snacks and sarcastic comments. Or you could just watch Alien, currently available on HBO.
Fair Suspense * PG-13 * 95 mins.
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Bad Boys for Life
Cops Marcus (Martin Lawrence) and Mike (Will Smith) have been through a lot together. But as they age, they find they want different things. Marcus has an eye on retirement and a quiet life. Mike doesn’t want to settle down and he certainly doesn’t want to stop his dangerous job taking down criminals.
So the Bad Boys of the Miami PD split up. Marcus settles down and Mike joins an elite force called AMMO. Fate brings the boys together again when a gangster puts a hit on Mike. The only man Mike can trust is Marcus, but is Marcus up for protecting his former partner?
The Bad Boys series is one of diminishing returns. The first film was good, the second was a cash grab and the third is being released in January (where studios send their films to die). It’s not a great sign. Smith and Lawrence are both charismatic performers and it should be fun to watch this duo play off each other. If you’re a fan of the series, or just a fan of Will Smith, this may be worth a box office trip. If you’re looking for genuine thrills, try checking out 1917, still in theaters.
Prospects: Flickering * R * 122 mins.
Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) was a respected veterinarian, renowned around the world. A tragedy pushes the doctor to withdraw from public life. He lives quietly now, surrounded by his only friends, a menagerie of animals that he can talk to. Yet it’s the humans that need the doctor.
When Queen Victoria falls gravely ill, Dolittle is sought for his expertise in exotic diseases. There’s one chance to cure the queen, but it means Dolittle will have to leave England. He journeys to a magical island and brings his animals along for the ride.
This movie features bad CGI animals, Downey with a ridiculously bad English accent and a plot that could have been constructed by a concussed toddler.
Every generation seemingly gets a Dolittle movie. None of these movies are particularly good but they will be beloved by the kids who watch them. That’s the problem with kids’ movies, adults must suffer through it over and over again. So it’s up to you, parents, to pick your Dolittle. Show your children the Rex Harrison flick, the Eddie Murphy comedy or this Robert Downey Jr. mess. Pick carefully, because no doubt you’ll be watching it on repeat as soon as it’s available on streaming.
Prospects: Dim * PG * 106 mins.