Over 20 years ago, Deep Blue Sea surprised audiences with its B-movie mix of action and CGI shark thrills. Though critics were split, audiences made it a surprise box office hit. No, it’s no Jaws, but Samuel L Jackson’s death scene remains a hilariously surprising subversion of genre expectations. Yet in spite of its success, a sequel wouldn’t surface until Deep Blue Sea 2 released direct-to-video in 2018. Even if you factor our the long delay, the sequel was awful, failing to re-capture any of the fun of its predecessor. But killer shark movies have made a comeback in recent years with The Shallows, 47 Meters Down, and The Meg. Not surprisingly then, another Deep Blue Sea sequel was likely inevitable. Even if no one wanted it.
Once a thriving community, rising sea levels have flooded much of the man-made island, Little Happy. Only two of its original residents remain. Now Dr Emma Collins and her small team study the impact of climate change on the shark population from this disappearing island. But when three genetically-altered bull sharks escape from an ocean research facility they quickly find their way to Little Happy. And a former colleague and hired mercenaries aren’t far behind. As the water levels continue to rise, Dr Collins and her friends fight for survival against the unnaturally intelligent sharks and human enemies alike.
Deep Blue Sea 3 Takes a Big Bite Out of Its Dumb Premise
Deep Blue Sea 3 doesn’t re-invent the wheel. Nothing about this sequel changes what you know about killer shark movies. However, die-hard fans of Renny Harlin’s original will appreciate writer Dirk Blackman’s efforts to connect the movies. While Deep Blue Sea 2 was a standalone sequel trying to riff off whatever brand familiarity was left from 1999, Deep Blue Sea 3 offers a simple thread for continuity’s sake. This is a small olive branch, but it’s also indicative of several little things this sequel gets right. Outside of this narrative plus, Blackman’s story is pretty rote stuff. Expect a decent helping of cheesy dialogue served alongside fairly rigid genre conventions and cardboard cut-out characters. Fortunately, Deep Blue Sea 3 has no pretensions about being a ‘serious’ horror movie.
Though Blackman’s story pays lip service to climate change – and things do drag a little at the start – Pogue doesn’t waste too much time getting to what audiences want to see.
Director John Pogue (The Quiet Ones) knows he’s making a B-monster movie, and that’s what he delivers. Though Blackman’s story pays lip service to climate change – and things do drag a little at the start – Pogue doesn’t waste too much time getting to what audiences want to see. Much closer in tone and style to Harlin’s original than the second movie, Deep Blue Sea 3 trades in over-the-top CGI shark carnage. When the severed top half of a diver’s body floats across the screen, intestines dangling behind, Pogue lets you know to check your brain at the door. Perhaps what’s most surprising is Pogue’s ability to drum up bits of suspense. In addition to a well-executed climax, Deep Blue Sea 3 boasts an excellent – and funny – jump that also serves as a nice homage to Samuel L Jackson’s death scene.
Sequel Mostly Overcomes Its Shoddy CGI Shark Effects
To date, Jaws still boasts the best shark effects in cinematic history. Even the original Deep Blue Sea featured some pretty iffy CGI shark effects. And this sequel hasn’t improved on that shortcoming. We’re talking maybe one step above what you’d find in a Syfy Network movie. As a master craftsmen, Steven Spielberg found innovative ways to work around the limitations of his animatronic shark. Suffice it to say, Pogue is no Spielberg. Still the director diverts attention from the poor special effects via the inclusion of human antagonists and fairly decent action scenes. As a result, Deep Blue Sea 3 doesn’t need to over-rely on its bull sharks for thrills. This trade-off alongside the movie’s light tone distinguish it from the other Wal-Mart bin sequel.
…the director diverts attention from the poor special effects via the inclusion of human antagonists and fairly decent action scenes.
In addition, a likable cast goes a long way to making the non-shark scenes bearable. No, there’s no Samuel L Jackson, Thomas Jane, or Stellan Skarsgard here. In fact, you won’t even find an LL Cool J or Michael Rapaport. But Tania Raymonde (Lost, Texas Chainsaw 3D) makes for a compellingly good protagonist. And Raymonde’ supporting cast – particularly Emerson Brooks – offer up the kind of affable personalities to make you want each of them to survive. As the sequel’s human heavy, Australian Bren Foster lays it on rather thick. However, it’s neither distracting nor outside the expectations the sequel sets for itself.
Deep Blue Sea 3 Exceeds Low Expectations and Then Some
After the fish chum that was Deep Blue Sea 2, another sequel should have been off the table. But there’s always plenty of room on the straight-to-video market for low-budget franchises to live on. Look no further than Amityville, Children of the Corn, or Hellraiser for proof. No one expected any new sequel to be good. So it’s a pleasant surprise to say that Deep Blue Sea 3 not only exceeds its low expectations, but is actually kind of good. Of course, audiences can still expect sketchy CGI sharks. Nevertheless, a likable cast, an emphasis on action and human antagonists, and a few fun surprises elevate this sequel from a hokey story. As a result, Deep Blue Sea 3 proves to be just the right kind of dumb, fun summer movie.