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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Deep Hurting, Deep Shock

Last Saturday night I taped Deep Shock (IMDB entry here), a Sci-Fi Channel original movie co-written by some guy. I was ordered to watch it, and I think it only fair to give a review.

Now, before I go on, I must point out that I really like Sofia Sideshow, and I think jkrank is a fine writer. Deep Shock, on the other There is a lesson here, I suppose, about too many eels spoiling the bouillabaisse.

Plot summary: There is a mysterious trench beneath the Arctic which is causing the ice pack to melt. Projections show that the vast majority of the earth will be covered by water within the next few decades. A UN committee agrees that lightly nuking the trench will make it all better. A dissenting view is held by Dr. Anne Fletcher. She has detected "signals"---which she says may be from some intelligence---coming from the trench, and she wants more time to study them. But, as always, dissent is crushed and not only is Dr. Fletcher's plan rejected, but she herself is booted off the committee.

So they go ahead with the plan to have the trench nuked by the underwater research station Hubris (no, really). Just before the torpedos can be launched, there's a slight mutiny. Hurst, a friend of Fletcher's who is on the Hubris (she's in Washington), tries to prevent the launch---for he, too, dissents from this plan. But again dissent is crushed (this time by hot lead) and the launch proceeds. This causes giant electric eels to come out of the trench and electrocute the entire Hubris crew.

Back at the UN, they're not quite sure what's happened, except that the Hubris was under attack and now no one answers. So they decide to send Dr. Chomsky (apparently head of the UN committee) with Fletcher to investigate. The military commander of the mission is Andy Raines, who just happens to be Fletcher's ex-husband.

So Fletcher, Chomsky, Raines, and some redshirts set off for the Hubris. There's a bit of pointless "drama" before they get there, but they finally arrive and find everyone all dead and crispy.

After that I can't think of a single thing that happens until Chomsky announces that it's been decided that since lightly nuking the trench didn't work, they're going to nuke the shit out of it, and fifty attack subs are on their way to do the job. (Note: Yes, this would mean subs from many different nations.) Fletcher, who's been working on a way to communicate with the eels, redoubles her efforts, and at some point one of the critters comes up through the dive hole (they did this before, when they killed the crew) and mind-melds with her. She therefore discovers that they are alien, telepathic giant intelligent electric eels, and apparently they are nesting in the trench, or something.

Fletcher and Raines warn the eels of the attack. The eels tell them they (the eels) can't prevent it either. After most of the remaining cast is killed in various ways, Fletcher and Raines move the Hubris further from the trench so that it will be somewhat protected from the blast. At one point they run out of power, but the eels come to the rescue and supply power to the station.

Having moved the station as far as they can, Fletcher and Raines get out and leave it to sink to the bottom, where it will provide a nesting place for the eels which is sheltered from the nuclear blast (see, the Hubris was built to withstand falling ice, so surely it will survive a nuclear blast). Fletcher estimates that the eels won't be ready to spawn again for 1000 years.

Back home, they both swear that all the eels were killed, and Fletcher gets the UN to decree that no one should try to visit the Hubris for the next five years, because of the radiation. She and Raines get back together again. This is considered a happy ending all around.

Some notes:

1. Deep Shock provided the opportunity for many hydrodynamics jokes, a benefit most movies don't give you.


3. When we saw the alien, intelligent, telepathic, giant electric eels for the first time, we burst out laughing.

4. David Keith, who plays Andy Raines, is a hunka-hunka burnin' cutie-pie luuuuuv; but more, he's the only major cast member who does not mince, prance, simper, smirk, flail, or masticate the scenery. It was always a relief to have the camera on him. Whether or not he did any actual acting, I couldn't say.

5. The only word to describe Dr. Chomsky is "bitch". He seems to be auditioning for a role as Prom Queen, and joins a long and distinguished tradition of really fey villains. His end wasn't nearly horrible enough, and it was preceded by very long scenes of him running frantically through the corridors of the Hubris screaming for Fletcher and Raines to come save him. I almost expected him to say, "Oh, the pain, the pain..." "WillIAM!" or "Save me, you cretinous collection of clanking clutter!"

6. The scene at the UN where Chomsky and Fletcher argue over what to do is one of the most embarrassing ever to be committed to film, and I sincerely hope Jeff had nothing to do with it. First, Fletcher and Chomsky try a smirk-off, but Fletcher's not bitch enough for him, so Chomsky wins handily. At no time do any actual facts play a role, just attitude.

Let me try to re-create the feel of this scene with alternate dialogue:

Fletcher: I put it to you, Dr. Chomsky, that you are a kindergarten baby, you wash your face in gravy, you wrap it up in bubble gum and send it to the Navy.

Chomsky: Fletcher, you think you're hot snot on a silver platter but you're just a cold booger on a paper plate. (To audience:) Come on, girls, let's throw her out of the club! All in favor say "Bloomingdale's!"; all opposed say, "K-Mart!"

7. The movie throws characters at us at 15 second intervals until the cast stabilizes at about the time they enter the Hubris. Up to then, we've seen a sub attacked, Hurst ventilated in slo-mo, the rest of the Hubris crew electrocuted in an unintentionally comical manner, and two pilots killed in a plane crash. Excuse me, could you let us know who we're supposed to care about, please?

8. Oops. It turns out we're supposed to really care about Fletcher, and regard her as the hero because she wants to save the eels. But after she finally learns to communicate with them, it's clear that they don't give a damn that they're making the earth uninhabitable for us. I figure one attempt at accommodation is good; after that, to hell with 'em. So in the end all Fletcher has done is push the eel problem onto our remote descendants (who may be less equipped than we are to deal with them). The "five years" business smells like sequel setup to me.

9. This movie can afford starship-like submarines, pretty eels, and the Gratuitously Cool Command Chair, but it can't afford real water. The water that floods the Hubris is CGI water.

10. There was some sort of Vulcan Shao-lin novitiate priest driving the Jimmy Carter.

11. My boyfriend wants to know where he can go to get those two hours of his life refunded.

In conclusion: OHM my god, we found this film reVOLTing. It AMPly demonstrates the CURRENT state of Hollywood. WATT were they thinking? I eagerly await its INDUCTANCE into the Hall of Shame. It nearly exceeded my CAPACITANCE for bad movies. Fortunately, my RESISTANCE to puns was not damped.

(Better luck next time Jeff. Remember, practice makes perfect.)