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William Eubank
Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel, TJ Miller
Writing Credits:
Brian Duffield, Adam Cozad

A crew of oceanic researchers working for a deep sea drilling company try to get to safety after a mysterious earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility.

Box Office:
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$7,008,297 on 2791 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date:4/14/2020

• Audio Commentary with Director William Eubank, Associate Producer Jared Purrington and Contributor Phil Gawthorne
• Extended/Deleted Scenes
• “Real Bunny Montage”
• “Making Underwater” Featurettes
• Trailer


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Underwater [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 26, 2020)

A new entry in the genre of water-based horror/sci-fi/action, 2020’s Underwater takes us to the Mariana Trench. There Tian Industries sets up a deep-sea camp to drill seven miles under the surface.

A mysterious calamity occurs that destroys much of the base. Mechanical engineer Norah Price (Kristen Stewart) manages to escape, but only a few of her colleagues also make it out of the wreckage.

Unable to contact anyone on the surface, Norah and the others need to set out to another part of the station if they intend to survive. Not only do they need to contend with the continuing collapse of the base, but also they find out that another menace threatens them in the form of mysterious, violent creatures.

Over the years, we occasionally got movies in this one’s general vein, with 1989’s The Abyss as probably the most famous entry in the genre. Given the thread of the corporation drilling deep in the ocean and the presence of strange/potentially threatening beings, one can clearly see a connection between Underwater and the James Cameron flick.

That said, I think the biggest influence found here relates to another classic: 1979’s Alien. At no point does Underwater turn into a clone of the Ridley Scott effort, but its DNA splatters all over the flick.

I don’t really mind the obvious links between the two films, as plenty of movies come with clear connections to classics. If I ruled out every picture that wore its influences on its sleeve, I’d miss some enjoyable efforts.

Unfortunately, Underwater doesn’t fall into that category. While never a truly bad movie, it seems oddly disjointed and dull.

Though I see the connection to Alien, the two differ in one notable area: narrative and character development. With Alien, the film takes its time to allow the story to evolve and grow, so little real action occurs until almost halfway through the film.

No such niceties come with Underwater. The movie barely lets viewers take their first bite of popcorn before chaos ensues and the action begins.

This approach doesn’t become a fatal flaw. Even though we only encounter one character before the sea base goes kablooey, the movie can still add dimensionality to Norah and the others we meet as it goes.

Except it doesn’t. Oh, we get tidbits and nuggets about the various roles as we progress, but they add up to little more than general windowdressing.

As such, we never feel we know any of the characters – heck, I can’t fault anyone who forgets the names of the participants. I just called them by their real names.

“Watch out, Kristen Stewart!”

“That’s not good, TJ Miller!”

“Be careful, Guy Who I Think Is Vincent Cassel!”

“Look over there, Actors Who I Never Saw Before!”

Not that I ever gave more than 37 percent of a hoot what happened to any of them. The film developed in such a bland way that it became impossible to invest in their fates.

Some live, some die – shrug. Not that I hoped any would perish, but I didn’t find myself troubled when this happened.

Underwater leaves the nature of the violent creatures up for grabs. Are they aliens, or true monsters, or just critters who hid on the ocean floor until the drilling awoke them?

I suspect the latter, but we don’t really know. The movie engages in some modest environmental commentary, and those elements add a bit of potential substance.

That only occurs in theory, though, as any stabs at social relevance remain faint at best. Underwater exists mainly as a monster movie, so the rest feels forced and undeveloped.

If the thriller/action parts worked better, I wouldn’t mind the flaws. Unfortunately, Underwater brings too much of a muddled experience for much of it to stick.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Underwater appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image offered the expected high quality affair.

Overall sharpness appeared solid. A few slightly soft shots materialized along the way, but they stayed minor and negligible.

The image lacked shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation. I also didn’t see any print flaws.

Underwater emphasized the modern palette, with an extremely heavy shift toward teal. Splashes of orange popped up at times as well as some red late in the story, but blue/green remained dominant. The colors didn’t overcome their stylistic restrictions, but they appeared appropriate.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows seemed smooth and clear. The movie gave us a strong transfer.

I also felt pleased with the immersive DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Underwater, as the audio accentuated the visuals well. It mixed creepy atmosphere with a mix of jolts and “assault moments” from the rear.

In the front, the track showed good stereo music and presented various elements in a logical and natural manner. The elements blended neatly and created a seamless sense of the environment. From the back, aggressive violent components added kick to the proceedings and made the mix more involving.

Audio quality seemed positive. Dialogue consistently appeared natural and crisp, with no edginess or intelligibility issues on display.

Music was clear and dynamic. The score seemed broadly reproduced and complemented the mix nicely.

Effects always were distinctive and concise, and the mix boasted fine clarity for the louder moments. Bass response always seemed rich and firm. This became a pretty terrific track.

A few extras appear here, and we begin with an audio commentary from director William Eubank, associate producer Jared Purrington and contributor Phil Gawthorne. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, cast and performances, sets and production design, creatures, stunts/action, and various effects.

Overall, this becomes a solid discussion of the film. It hits on a nice array of topics and moves quickly to turn into a winning, informative take on the movie.

Seven Extended/Deleted Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 48 seconds. Most offer brief additions, and the true new sequences just provide a bit more character play. None of them add up to much.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Eubank, Purrington and Gawthorne. They tell us a bit about the sequences as well as why they got cut – sometimes, as we don’t always learn the rationale behind the deletions. Still, the commentary adds some good info.

Next comes Real Bunny Montage, a three-minute, 25-second segment that shows the use of an actual rabbit in the movie. In the released film, the TJ Miller character totes around a stuffed bunny, but the filmmakers originally shot with a real one, and we see those shots here.

“Bunny” also comes with optional commentary from Eubank, Purrington and Gawthorne. They tell us about these aspects of the production – and seem to assume we already heard the feature commentary, as they don’t really explain the use of the real rabbit. Still, they bring a few decent notes.

Making Underwater splits into three domains: “Design” (17:54), “Production” (19:50) and “Creatures & Visual Effects” (19:56). Across these, we hear from Eubank, Purrington, producer Tonia Davis, visual effects supervisors Blair Clark and Axel Bonami, production designer Naaman Marshall, supervising art director Erik Osusky, mechanical department legacy effects Richard Landon, art director Kelly Curley, director of photography Bozan Bazelli, stunt coordinator Mark Raynor, special effects foreman Mark Byers, and actors Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher, Jr., and TJ Miller.

The featurettes look at set design and attempts to shoot “underwater”, various effects, costumes and props, cast and performances, photography, stunts and action, and creatures.

With nearly an hour at its disposal, “Making” gets plenty of room to explore different filmmaking areas, and it does so well. The segments dig into a good mix of topics so they add up to a solid view of the production.

The movie’s trailer completes the disc. No other previews appear.

Little more than a mash-up of Alien and The Abyss, Underwater delivers thin gruel. Underdeveloped and fairly dull, the movie squanders its potential to thrill and scare. The Blu-ray boasts very good visuals, excellent audio and a nice mix of bonus materials. Though not a terrible movie, Underwater fails to click.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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