Deep Rising (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

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Rising Classic

Hosting most of Deep Rising’s action is a mega-luxury cruise ship, with hundreds of millionaires on board. Before the first act is out, every one of them is dead. What fun Deep Rising will have with their remains.

The cynical smile Deep Rising wears creates pure glee. In the late ‘90s deluge of monster flicks, Deep Rising is there with The Relic and Mimic for title of champion – and the defining cynicismgives this squid-eats-a-cruise-ship flick the win.

With only B-tier material, writer/director Stephen Sommers gives this beastly gem A-tier execution. It’s a slithering worm movie; hungry tentacles sneak up on people, snatch them, and eat them. Or, “They drink you,” as it’s so lovingly explained.

But this is a movie about people at their worst. There’s no empathy to go around. The cast includes greedy diamond-wearing vacationers, hijackers, and a lowly thief. The “heroes”? The crew transporting the hijackers for a payday.

Even in a situation this dire, no one gets along. At some point, they all hold a gun to one another. Deep Rising tells a horror fantasy about a monster, yes, but notably of self-preservation and the resulting dire, selfish behavior. Everything in Deep Rising wraps itself in that theme, and that perfect lost-at-sea setting isolates everyone to their panicked narcissism. Or, a full realization of Tommy Lee Jones short speech in Men in Black, “People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals.”

“Eat the rich,” says the 1700’s phrase; Deep Rising’s monster is living the dream

Mix the claustrophobic space-faring of Alien with the water disaster of Poseidon Adventure and out pops the writhing cinematic form of Deep Rising. Neither of those notable classics contain the pure summer entertainment vibes of Sommers’ output though (ignore how this was wrongly dumped to theaters in January). Dialog is all in jest, and Treat Williams’ delivery is gold; he’s an absolute star here. His dry sarcasm heightens the absurdity.

Williams, along with co-star Kevin J. O’Connor, trade delighting quips and barbs. With Famke Janssen in tow, the trio form Deep Rising’s human core, the only characters with (slight) earned sympathy, and mostly for their entertainment value. Everyone else is food, and their demise is cause for elation.

Deep Rising’s true star, a mammoth squid creature, inadvertently becomes cast as a hero. “Eat the rich,” says the 1700’s phrase; Deep Rising’s monster is living the dream. It eats so, so many rich VIPs. It’s a wonder why squid-critter cares about the eight or so people left on board. Maybe, like everyone else, it’s a sickeningly greedy creature too. The only thing that’s giving rather than taking is Deep Rising itself.

Video

Mill Creek first issued Deep Rising to Blu-ray in no-frills double feature with Puppet Masters. Kino Lorber clearly understands Deep Rising giving it the grand special edition it so deserves.

While Deep Rising isn’t a Blu-ray superstar, the disc provides a jump over the previous release. Encoding is better, given breathing room to manage a rough grain structure. The 35mm stock likes to fluctuate in intensity, grain seeping into the shadows, even over (or near) pure black. This leads to some rough patches, although rarely with any impediment to detail.

Adequate resolution provides enough sharpness to get by. Late ‘90s CG effects end up exposed as home video tech improves (while some miniature work is still invisible). Oddly, that’s a factor in telling how progressed Deep Rising’s transfer is. Close-ups work out facial definition with strong clarity.

Famke Janssen wears a red dress for a decent portion of Deep Rising, practically glowing with this transfer. A mild boost in color saturation adds some life, but arguably too much so in that circumstance. Flesh tones steer natural at least and the muted palette given to the sets by way of the ship’s metal bowels.

Set at night and in a storm, this isn’t a bright, cheery film. Shadows do cause some occasional crush and contrast withers to more of a mid-tier gray scale. Blame the cinematography, not the disc.

Audio

Surround use within this DTS-HD 5.1 mix is reference worthy. So much happens as the beast slithers its tentacles around the pipes and rooms; it’s a constant audio presence. Sublime rear soundstage use manages bullets as they drop by the hundreds and rushing water as boats take it on. During the handful of quiet moments, there’s always a storm outside. Thunder spills out from each channel, rain hammers windows.

What’s missing now is range. LFE support, once grand and powerful, falls off as modern mixes elevate subwoofer use. Kino’s disc still pumps out low-end. As the monster crushes an entire room with characters in the center, the effect rumbles along. Eventual explosions that close out Deep Rising perform admirably, but missing tangible weight.

Extras

Stephen Sommers joins his editor Bob Ducsay for a commentary track, kicking off a slate of bonuses worthy of Deep Rising’s greatness. Seven new interviews with a range of topics and lengths deep dive into this production. Actors, VFX/SFX team members, second unit director Dean Cundey, and DP Howard Atherton feature in this stack. That’s a lot of people to track down 20 years on. ILM’s work is featured in six separate pieces, delving into the CG process via animatics and other stages of completion. There’s an image gallery and some trailers coming in last, but this will all take a while to get through.

Deep Rising
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A gore-filled, guilty pleasure, B-tier creature fest, Deep Rising has a blast with every frame of gooey fun.

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The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 19 Deep Rising screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 14,000+ already in our library), 50+ exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.