Director: William Eubank
Writers: Brian Duffield (screenplay by), Adam Cozad (screenplay by)
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, T.J. Miller
Am I a Kristen Stewart fan? On the contrary. To be honest, I seriously dislike this actress. Not that her acting is so terribly bad. And in a way, she’s not a bad looking young woman either. But her attitude and facial expression don’t really make her amiable. In the past I’ve already mentioned that her phlegmatic character equals that of a pancake and it seems as if her face was drenched in starch, because of her emotionless look. “Personal Shopper” and “Equals” were suitable films for this “always-seriously-looking” actress. Unfortunately, “Personal Shopper” was terribly boring and sleep-inducing. So, what convinced me to watch the movie “Underwater“? No idea. Maybe because I heard this spectacle film was kind of a mixture of “Alien” and “The Abyss”. In retrospect, this fact was also rather disappointing.
You can compare “Underwater” with a classic dish served in an average brasserie. It smells good and tastes delicious, but it lacks the finesse of a star restaurant. You don’t get excited. And you don’t look disappointed at your empty plate, hoping that a waiter comes over and asks if you want an extra portion. The only feeling left is that of recognisability. Haven’t we seen this before? And didn’t it taste the same as the last time?
I have to admit the film continues at a blistering pace. Before you realise it, the entire underwater drilling platform collapses and Norah (Kristen Stewart) must hurry through destroyed corridors and debris-filled compartments. A claustrophobic spectacle that takes place seven miles deep at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest known spot in the ocean. At first glance, it appears to be an undersea earthquake that causes Norah and some survivors to figure out an escape scenario quickly. But when they step along the ocean floor, in heavy, futuristic-looking wetsuits (“Pacific Rim” inspired gear), it soon becomes clear that it’s something else that’s attacking them. Once again, it’s humanity that pushed the boundaries. Like the speleologists in “The Silence“, the drilling company most likely is the cause of unearthly creatures surfacing. In short, they have tapped into the wrong source while drilling for raw materials.
I myself had that feeling of breathlessness while watching “Underwater”. When you realise that this crew is surrounded by millions of tons of ocean water that presses on them with crushing force, you wouldn’t want to trade places with them for any money in the world. A stumbling walk through pitch-black darkness, knowing that you could run out of oxygen anytime, your pressure suit could implode due to a construction fault or a strange underwater monster sucking the life out of you in a fraction of a second. I’d hyperventilate and show panicky behaviour for less. “Underwater” is a suitable film for viewers who prefer to watch a movie that is packed with persistent action scenes. So preferably, no character development or a sophisticated storyline that’s being built up in a subtle way. In short, for fans of fast food chains and fast microwave meals (Indeed, I am quite culinary-inspired today).
Although you can admire a multitude of fantastic underwater footage (and making underwater images is no easy task), the fact it all takes place underwater (hence the film-title) is a disadvantage to the film. The images aren’t really clear and most of the time blurred and hazy. Especially during the vigorous moments when the sea monsters play an important role. Thus, the moments when the crew experienced a life-threatening situation, the footage didn’t have the desired impact most of the time. And that was the biggest turnoff for me. The lack of any tension. It’s not a completely boring film, but there wasn’t really nail-biting suspense. No astonishing plot twists or surprises. In addition, none of the actors really stood out. They were all uninteresting, two-dimensional characters, to say the least. I can’t really call “Underwater” impressive. Even Kirsten Stewart’s ultra-short bleached haircut didn’t have the desired shock effect. And to be honest, it didn’t help that she walked around half of the movie in her underwear. If they had chosen Scarlett Johansson instead, it would have made an impression. In that case, the three-dimensional aspect of the character Norah would come across much better! Significantly better!