‘Deep Blue Sea 2’ is a Soggy Sequel

How the Sequel Respects the Original

The core premise of humanity’s hubris and unending quest for godhood isn’t original to the first film, and the sequel follows in its Frankenstein-inspired footsteps. It’s a classic genre trope, and the film doesn’t stray from the formula: man tries to create and control life, and everyone in the vicinity pays the price. There’s no one here you’ll like, necessarily, but those you dislike die in satisfying enough ways. Also, there are sharks, so how bad can it be?

How the Sequel Shits on the Original

The necessary ingredients for a killer shark movie like this are minimal, but Deep Blue Sea 2 barely gets them right – basically, there are sharks and they are killing people. There’s a distinct lack of fun, though, as the cast’s previously-mentioned lack of charisma deflates any hope for personality or atmosphere. The energy and vitality emanating from Jackson, LL, Rapaport, and even Skarsgård in the first film have no replacement here. Neither performers nor characters stand out as interesting or entertaining, and that leaves the fun and thrills wholly dependent on the action set-pieces, script, and visuals.

And that’s unfortunate.

Harlin’s film is big and bright, and even when the camera moves viewers into hallways and rooms beneath the ocean, there’s a vitality to its images. The sequel feels flat by comparison, and while exteriors are competent, the inside of the facility is too often dimly lit and its production design is bland. The script, meanwhile, follows predictable beats beyond the baby shark revelation, and it lacks anything resembling the first film’s jaw-dropping kill highlights. Jackson’s death in the original hits right after a gloriously positive and motivating speech, and the effort to recreate it here sees a forgettable player essentially telling the sharks to suck it before one jumps up and decapitates the idiot. Skarsgård’s death in Harlin’s film is legit harrowing (and blackly comic), and it also surprises with the death of its female lead in the final ten minutes, but the sequel’s deaths don’t register the slightest emotional or physical reaction. Every character’s end is predictable and dull.

There are a pair of odd choices here, too: one that suggests something bigger, and one that suggests the money ran out. The former is evident in the wackadoodle billionaire scientist, who we discover has been shooting up with shark serum. The secret injections are immediately followed by formulas and diagrams swirling on the screen to imply he’s learning, I guess? Nothing is done with this Beautiful Mind gibberish, though, despite my hope that he would turn into a Landshark. Speaking of nothing, while Harlin delivers three solid shark deaths (explosion! electric shock! err, another explosion!) as his characters fight back, there’s nothing remotely satisfying like that here. There are five killer sharks plus numerous baby jaws, so you’d expect several cathartic kills, right? Nah. We see one goddamn shark offed here via a double flare to the mouth, and that’s it. The rest are killed offscreen in an explosion. That’s just unforgivable.

Conclusion

Patience may be a virtue, but Deep Blue Sea 2 isn’t exactly a reward for our nineteen-year wait. Happily, it’s far from the only shark attack movie out there, as the superior likes of The Shallows and even 47 Meters Down are recent thrill rides that range from great to good. Later this summer, we’ll also be getting the wonderfully ridiculous-looking The Meg, so if you can hold out, I’d say skip this waterlogged turkey and stay patient just a few months longer.

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