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MOVIE INFO

Director:
George P. Cosmatos
Cast:
Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson
Writing Credits:
David Webb Peoples and Jeb Stuart

Tagline:
How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

Synopsis:
On the dark and forbidding ocean floor, the crew of a deep-sea mission rig discovers a sunken freighter that harbors a deadly secret: a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. With a storm raging on the surface and no hope of rescue, the captain and his team are propelled into a spine-tingling battle for survival against the ultimate foe: a hideous monster that cannot die...and lives to kill!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5,029,000 on 1,393 Screens
Domestic Gross
$15,704,614

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $29.93
Release Date: 8/12/2014

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Connor
• “It Takes All Kinds: The Making of Motel Hell” Featurette
• “Shooting Old School” Featurette
• “Ida, Be Thy Name” Featurette
• “From Glamour to Gore” Featurette
• “Another Head on the Chopping Block” Featurette
• Photo Galleries
• Trailer and Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Leviathan [Blu-Ray] (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 31, 2014)

Back in 1989, audiences got three action/sci-fi films that focused on deep sea action. Though it didn’t do much at the box office, James Cameron’s The Abyss now enjoys a pretty good reputation and might even be viewed as a minor genre classic.

A less positive fate greeted Leviathan and DeepStar Six. Both beat Abyss to theaters by months but failed to find an audience; the $54 million earned by Abyss disappointed but looked great compared to Leviathan’s $15 million or Six’s $8 million.

Unlike Abyss, it doesn’t appear that Leviathan went on to become a “fan favorite”. Honestly, I didn’t remember the film existed and I’m not sure I ever saw it. Whether as an initial screening or a revisit with a long-forgotten effort, I took this Blu-ray as a good chance to reconsider Leviathan.

Deep in the Atlantic Ocean, a crew from the Tri Oceanic Mining Corporation digs various valuable metals out of the floor. Near the end of a 90-day shift, tempers wear thin, as various tensions arise among crewmembers. Chief Steven Beck (Peter Weller) does his best to keep matters subdued until all involved head home.

Those issues recede when the crew discovers a sunken Soviet vessel called the Leviathan. As Beck and the others investigate, they discover a mysterious secret that killed the Soviet crew – and that now threatens the divers.

If you want to pin down the major reason why Abyss remains a fan favorite while Leviathan remains mired in the mists of time, look at the directorial credits. With James Cameron, we get one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of all-time, whereas with Leviathan’s George P. Cosmatos, we find the guy who made Rambo a prominent character.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing, as Cosmatos gets some credit for the enduring popularity of Rambo: First Blood Part II, the 1985 sequel that made Sylvester Stallone’s character an international sensation. Cosmatos also directed the fairly well-liked 1993 Western Tombstone.

Whatever one thinks of those efforts and other flicks like 1986’s Cobra, it seems clear that at his best, Cosmatos created workmanlike films without any of the flair, passion and skill Cameron brings to his projects. Even though Abyss doesn’t represent Cameron at his best, it remains vastly superior than the mediocre Leviathan. Cosmatos creates a pedestrian effort that lacks any of the vivacity one gets from Cameron.

Not that I view Leviathan as a bad movie, for it comes with sporadic charms. Clearly influenced by 1979’s classic Alien, the story unfolds at a gradual pace, which I like. The narrative lets us get to know the characters reasonably well and doesn’t rush us into the action. Sure, the participants don’t develop into anything memorable, and while acceptable, the cast lacks the skill of those in Alien to make the parts dynamic, but the first act or so still manages to become fairly involving.

Unlike the taut, tense Alien, though, Leviathan starts to go off the rails when it should reach higher levels of excitement. It eventually nods toward John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing, though the Alien template continues to dominate – indeed, entire scenes feel like they got lifted directly from the 1979 film.

If you remake a movie, you should do it better or else you risk negative comparisons. Those issues permeate Leviathan; it so often reminds me of Alien that I can’t help but wish I had the Ridley Scott classic in my Blu-ray player.

If viewed independently, I’d say Leviathan offers a watchable horror-action piece, but unfortunately, I can’t consider it with that level of detachment. While the movie presents moderate thrills, it seems far too derivative to succeed.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Leviathan appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an inconsistent but acceptable presentation.

Sharpness was usually fine, but exceptions occurred. Wide shots occasionally became tentative, so some of those could be a bit on the fuzzy side. Still, overall clarity was positive; I couldn’t call this a razor-sharp image, but it looked reasonably precise. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and no edge haloes occurred. Print flaws were also modest; occasional small specks popped up, but those didn’t become a big issue.

Colors looked decent. 1989 film stocks didn’t tend to be the most dynamic, and Leviathan could reflect those trends, but the hues usually looked reasonably positive, with only a little muddiness at times. Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows showed acceptable clarity; some low-light shots lacked great definition, but they were mostly good. I thought this was a “C+“ presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the dated but positive DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Leviathan. Actually, the movie exhibited pretty nice spread across the front. Various elements moved smoothly across the front, and the track managed to provide a fair sense of place. Music also demonstrated appropriate stereo spread.

In terms of surround usage, the back speakers didn’t have a lot to do throughout the film. Nonetheless, they added general dimensionality and contributed pizzazz during the movie’s louder sequences. This meant elements filled out the back speakers in a moderately lively manner.

Audio quality was mostly fine for a 25-year-old soundtrack. Speech was the weakest link, as occasional signs of edginess appeared. Nonetheless, the lines remained intelligible despite some roughness.

Music showed nice fidelity and range, and effects appeared fairly accurate and robust. The track didn’t boast a ton of oomph, but it showed decent low-end. Nothing here dazzled, but the result was good enough for an age-based “B”.

Three featurettes appear here. Monster Melting Pot runs 40 minutes, 26 seconds and includes comments from creature effects designers Tom Woodruff, Jr., Shannon Shea, and Alec Gillis. “Pot” discusses the other underwater-based movies from 1989 and their impact on the production, costume design, creature effects, photography, director George P. Cosmatos, the film’s reception and related areas.

Given the jobs held by the participants, I expected “Pot” to provide a dry, limited look at the film. Happily, it blooms into something more than that, as the speakers mix useful facts with tons of fun anecdotes. All three come across as lively interview subjects and they help make this a delightful piece.

During the 12-minute, 35-second , we hear from actor Hector Elizondo. He discusses how he came to the project, his character and performance, cast and crew, and thoughts about the shoot. Elizondo offers a lively, fun look back at his experiences in this entertaining interview.

Finally, Surviving Leviathan occupies 15 minutes, one second and offers info from actor Ernie Hudson. He chats about topics similar to those covered by Elizondo. Hudson lacks the effusive charm of his co-star, but he still gives us a nice, honest view of the film.

In addition to the trailer for Leviathan, we get ads under More from Scream Factory. This domain offers promos for It Came Without Warning, Lake Placid, Saturn 3 and Swamp Thing.

While it comes with some excitement, Leviathan borrows far too much from the superior Alien to stand on its own. The movie feels so derivative that the similarities become a distraction and take away from its own potential. The Blu-ray offers decent to good picture and audio as well as a collection of fun featurettes. Leviathan brings us a watchable but highly unoriginal tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
25:
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02:
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