B-movie water monster movie lovers can celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Deep Rising with a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The film -- about a crack crew led by swashbuckling Treat Williams trapped on a cruise ship infested with tentacle sea monsters -- is just as much gooey gory fun as it was when it first hit theaters in 1998. This new Blu-ray features a strong image transfer with a terrific audio mix and a barrage of fantastic bonus features to keep fans busy. If you loved this movie, it's an easy one to call Highly Recommended.
Nothing about Deep Rising should be taken seriously. It a was a poorly marketed big budget B-movie filled to the brim with CGI tentacle monsters who devoured and regurgitated the passengers and crew of a state-of-the-art luxury cruise ship. Thankfully the film's developed a bit of a following with a loyal legion of fans - at least enough like myself - to encourage Kino Lorber Studio Classics to release a deluxe collector's edition Blu-ray. Directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Wes Studi, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Anthony Heald - the film is truly the best sort of turn off your brain gory fun that never fails to entertain.
"If the cash is there, we don't care." is the life motto for Captain John Finnegan (Treat Williams) who will lease out his boat and services to anyone with the coin. Along with his engineer Joey (Kevin J. O'Connor), Finnegan has been contracted to ferry Hanover (Wes Studi) and his band of heavily-armed mercs out into the middle of the South China Sea to hijack the luxury cruise ship the Argonautica that is sailing on its maiden voyage. It was supposed to be a simple job that becomes infinitely more complicated when they discover the ship has become infested from bow to stern with tentacle sea monsters hungry for human flesh that already ate the crew and passengers.
I discovered Deep Rising by accident. My Dad and I had gone to the local theater to see something else -- I think Phantoms because I'd just read the book -- but when we got there we learned that movie was no longer showing because of a print problem. So, we were given free passes to see something else. Going off the weird poster of a screaming woman, we decided to check out Deep Rising. In the end, I'm glad I saw Deep Rising in the theater instead of Phantoms. While the movie may have ended up a soggy financial flop, it became an instant favorite for me and my Dad. I have great memories of us cringing at the gore while laughing our heads off at the ridiculousness of the flick. It's a big dumb B-movie designed to entertain, and it succeeds at doing just that.
While the gore is great and the CGI tentacle monsters are a lot of fun and Jerry Goldsmith's score is a treat, the film's success hinges on its cast. Treat Williams is great as the swashbuckling Han Solo-style rogue entrepreneur. For an a-typical lead, he holds the screen and knows how to play a snarky badass with a machine gun. At his side is Kevin J. O'Connor as Joey - whose good for a wisecrack even if the joke doesn't always stick. Famke Janssen is nice in a pre-X-Men role as a cat thief who isn't useless or requires constant saving from one of her male costars. Wes Studi is awesome as always bring menace to his part with a simple glance. Anthony Heald delivers another slimy rich guy performance as the ship's designer and chews plenty of scenery. They're a lot of fun and their commitment to the bonkers story and creatures keeps things grounded and moving forward.
Under the stewardship of director Stephen Sommers, you can watch this film and then chart a course for every film Sommers made afterward. His two outings with The Mummy and the attempt to make Van Helsing a viable franchise can all be traced back to Deep Rising. This film works because it knew what it was and just went for broke. It's an audience pleaser that failed to find its audience in the theater. After coming out of The Meg over the weekend, I couldn't help but wish Deep Rising had gotten more love back in its day. The Meg was a good bit of shark-munching human fun, but it really should have taken a page from the playbook for Deep Rising and went for broke and embraced the carnage and over-the-top nature it had going for it. Deep Rising is hardly the greatest film ever made, but it knows what it is and what the audience wants out of that sort of movie.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Deep Rising makes its second arrival on Blu-ray this time courtesy of Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics Label. Pressed onto a Region A BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The case artwork is reversible to reflect the original theatrical poster art. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu featuring traditional navigation options.
Originally when Deep Rising was announced for this release from Kino Lorber it was reported to be getting a fresh new 4K scan of the negative. Nowhere on the artwork does it say that is still the case, but regardless - this new 1080p 2.35:1 transfer is a nice step up over the previous compressed transfer that was used for the 2-Pack release with The Puppet Masters from Mill Creek. Sadly I can not find my copy of that disc to offer screenshot comparisons; I fear it's lost in a random moving box. Even if the same scan was used, this transfer offers up many notable positives - along with only a couple negatives.
For starters, fine film grain is apparent and film-like, but never overly distracting or intrusive. Details are sharp allowing facial features and costuming and set texturing to become apparent. I felt like I was seeing little details in the costuming or the casino of the ship that I'd never seen or noticed before. Colors are robust while still keeping the film's dark and drab styling. Primaries have some great pop, Janssen's red party dress or Williams' blue shirt, for example, are standouts. The gore and viscera are nice and icky looking giving extra pop. Flesh tones are even and healthy throughout. The only problem is the image can appear a bit too dark in a few places. Scenes, where the cast is walking down dark corridors, can lose a lot of shadow separation and drift towards crush. Thankfully it doesn't get that far, but it gets awful close in spots. Depth is readily appreciable. Contrast is even with crisp whites. The print is in great shape without any visible wear and tear to speak of. A couple of soft spots remain, but a lot of that is baked in effects template stuff in keeping with the CGI effects of the era. All in all, as a longtime fan of this flick I'm very happy with this transfer.
Deep Rising also comes packed with a pair of terrific audio tracks for fans to chose from; an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track as well as an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. Both are great but I generally tip my hat to the 5.1 track. Again, as I don't have my Mill Creek copy handy, I can't swear whether or not this is the same 5.1 mix as that disc, but I feel this sounds a bit more aggressive than before - that opening with the monster swimming through the various shipwrecks it caused through the centuries is a real sonic treat giving great LFE that rattles the bass while exhibiting some fantastic imaging. The rest of the mix follows that track with some great element spacing and atmosphere. Gunshots and explosions are great while the guttural roars of the creatures really punch up the mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and Jerry Goldsmith's score kicks up the action and even cribs some of the tonal progressions of Alien to add a nice sense of dread to the few quiet spots. The 2.0 stereo mix is perfectly good on its own, but I feel you lose that essential spacing as everything becomes more front/center. Both tracks have great levels so once you set it you can forget it - but I suggest you keep it loud for the fun of it.
When Kino Lorber goes all out on some of their releases, they really make a moment of it. Deep Rising sports one hell of an aggressive bonus features package filled with new cast and crew interviews, director audio commentary, and behind the scenes material. There's a lot of great stuff to dig through here so if you're a fan, you've got your work cut out for you.
For pure and simple turn off your brain entertainment, it doesn't get much better than Deep Rising. A classic B-movie style story with a blockbuster budget, the film may have sunk at the box office but its heart will go on thanks to a loyal legion of fans. It's the kind of B-movie junk food viewing I turn to again and again because it doesn't take itself seriously. Turn off your brain and just go with the flow. Kino Lorber Studio Classics does right by this film giving it a clear transfer improvement, a great pair of audio tracks to chose from a couple hours worth of quality and worthwhile bonus features to pick through. If you're a fan of Deep Rising, this is a safe one to call Highly Recommended.