Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020)

"Deadlier than ever"

Plot

For the third summer in a row, Dr Emma Collins and her team have stationed themselves on Little Happy, a man-made island that used to be home to a thriving community of fishermen but has been nearly abandoned, in order to study the effects of climate change on the local marine life, in particular the local shark population. However, when a trio of genetically modified bull sharks arrive in the area, it isn’t long before their problems begin to worsen.

 

The original Deep Blue Sea came at a time when there was little in the way of killer shark films and is a guilty pleasure of mine, featuring some quality animatronic sharks and some infamous set pieces. But it did spawn a whole slew of Sy Fy and Asylum imitators with its use of CGI sharks – around two dozen of them in fact! The killer shark sub-genre quickly turned into a farce, with gonzo films like Sharknado scraping the barrel of whatever chum was left. Clearly a cheap cash-in to revive a long-dormant property, Deep Blue Sea 2 was a completely pointless sequel which was basically a cheap remake of the original, only without most of the budget and star power behind it, and came long after the sub-genre had already been killed off beyond the point of no return. That doesn’t stop the money men though. Conveniently allowing some sharks to survive at the end in order to set up future instalments, along comes the second sequel, the imaginatively titled Deep Blue Sea 3.



On the positive side, Deep Blue Sea 3 eschews repeating the same plot as before and moves the story to a more open setting rather than a sinking research lab, only this time it’s a sinking man-made island with a fishing village on it. Unfortunately, with the change in location, it means more time is spend away from the water and this is to the detriment of the film. Deep Blue Sea 3 features way too much unnecessary drama above the surface and not enough thrills and spills below it. The addition of the human villains alongside the sharks means two lots of antagonists are competing for the same airtime and its obvious which one will win out – the cheaper human option. Its no coincidence that Deep Blue Sea 3’s best moments occur underwater with the sharks, whilst the sluggish drama and human plotting reeks of padding.


Deep Blue Sea 3 could be one of any of Sy Fy’s cheesy shark films like Empire of the Sharks as it shares similar production values but holds back just enough on the silliness and absurdity to avoid a Sharknado-like end product. The attempts by the script to stay melodramatic do allow for the spontaneous to occur without warning – if you thought Samuel L. Jackson’s over-the-top death was sudden, wait for a similar moment here. Sadly, the sinking village doesn’t yield the same level of claustrophobia as a long corridor in a lab and so the bulk of the set pieces involve the characters swimming or diving and find themselves in harm’s way – they go to the sharks, rather than the other way around. Thankfully, the film tries to make itself as gory as possible with severed torsos, heads bitten off and exploding sharks no less. The gore looks good most of the time and whether the CG form or actual make-up effects, the fact I wasn’t able to distinguish between them on a few occasions means it was a job well done.


The shark effects generally consist of the usual rushed CGI work where you can tell that they’re just computer-generated – with the exception of one, quite frankly superb, shot right at the start where a shark swims up close to the lead actress. For a few seconds, the animation is that good, you’d think they had trained a real shark. But then the usual conundrum arises for all killer shark films that rely purely on CG rather than animatronics – once the sharks have to move, the animators just can’t replicate the fluid movements of a real shark, usually making them move quicker or more sporadically rather than the smoother gliding motion they’re known for. I was expecting more shark action though, and as I stated earlier, the addition of a human villain seems to be at the expense of some extra shark mayhem.



The characters are made up of the usual one-notes – the attractive female lead, the token black character, the nerdy side kick, the Japanese computer whizz, etc. as well as the standard issue human villains. Cast for their looks and ability to fill their genre trope roles, the non-star cast make the most of their moment in the spotlight and do fair jobs in their roles given the script and necessity to conform to type. Tania Raymonde has been in a few supporting roles and its clear she can hold her own as the lead in a B-movie like this. The camera also likes her a lot, lingering over her body as she strips down to her swimwear a number of times for another jaunt into the water. Surprisingly, both the nerdy side kick (the witty Alex Bhat) and the Japanese computer whizz (the cute Reina Aoi) come off as the most likeable characters in the film and their affectionate little love-in does provide some levity and appeal, though you know its not going to end well.

 

Final Verdict

Deep Blue Sea 3 is better than its predecessor, though not a hard act to follow, but still not much of an improvement over the usual straight-to-video Sy Fy shark rubbish. As I said in my review for the previous film, if you’re going to waste ninety-minutes watching a shark film, just re-watch the original!



 

Deep Blue Sea 3


Director(s): John Pogue


Writer(s): Dirk Blackman, Duncan Kennedy (based on characters created by), Donna Powers (based on characters created by)


Actor(s): Tanya Raymonde, Nathaniel Buzolic, Emerson Brooks, Bren Foster, Reina Aoi, Alex Bhat


Duration: 100 mins