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Wasting time at the bottom of the sea: Deepstar Six

movieposterBetween 1989 and 1990 a number of movies were released that had to do with people underwater facing monsters.
The most popular was of course Jim Cameron’s The Abyss, a big-budget production with state of the art special effects. George P. Cosmatos’ lower budget flick, Leviathan featured a good cast but made a smaller splash (ah!)
The others disappeared – but can still be found, and for a while were on rotation on local TV networks.
So two nights ago I went and checked out (again) Deepstar Six, a movie I had completely forgotten.
I am writing this now because I feel the plot might vanish from my memory again soon.

Apparently, when the news got around that a number of movies were being produced with an underwater monster theme1, the people behind Deepstar Six decided theirs would be the first movie to be released.
Not a bad strategy, but the haste probably made things worse.

The plot: an underwater operation is building a missile facility underwater when a blast releases monsters, that kill the staff.

And that’s more or less it.
And you could ask – how can you possibly have a hard time remembering that plot for a long time?

Part of what makes Deepstar Six so eminently forgettable is the lack of a plot that goes beyond the let’s strand a few people on the bottom of the sea and then kill them off.
It can be argued that Leviathan did the same, but the cast and the direction were stronger, as were the characters.

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Fuelled by the hare-brained idea of building a missile-launching facility at the bottom of the sea (what gives?) Deepstar Six lines up a competent cast of (mostly) TV stars, and gives them cardboard characters to play, and none of them is really likeable. We actually don’t give a damn about their survival, and indeed we mostly root for the monster.
Which is all right, but alas the monster suffers from the same problem of the other characters, and it’s on screen for a few heartbeats, no more..

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As a side peeve, I usually cringe when characters that are presented as competent professionals (we are dealing with a crew of naval engineers and technicians, here), completely lose it when faced with a crisis.
Again, Leviathan handled this much better.
Oh, yes, and then there is the matter of why one should equip a submarine building site with a few pump-action guns. But this is nerdy nit-picking.

In the end, Deepstar Six is a waste of time and a waste of a competent cast of TV regulars.
Thankfully, I will forget everything about it in a few days.

I can imagine all those guys as they try their elevator pitch… “It’s Alien… underwater!” 
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