Just Look Away

Posted on February 25, 2011

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Leviathan

“Look at my foot! This bitch put a goddamn sea monster in my bunk! “

This 1989 scif-fi/horror movie has an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where only 30% of respondents reported liking it. Yes, gentle readers, Leviathan is a new low for this column.

Why Bother?

“So where’s the goddamn hurricane?”

Leviathan is an underwater scif-fi/horror/thriller movie with a terrific cast that includes Peter Weller, Amanda Pays (Lisa Eilbacher is beautiful too, but I’ve got a thing for Amanda), Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Hector Elizondo, Meg Foster, and the always terrific Ernie Hudson. If you liked The Abyss, you might be tempted by this.

I watched it

“Whatever that thing is… it’s apparently some kind of genetic aberration. “

The crewmembers of a deep-sea mining operation take 90-day shifts in an undersea base. During one shift, they discover a sunken Russian freighter named Leviathan (turns out the crew doctor reads Russian). The miners check an international ship registry, and discover that the same ship is apparently sailing the Baltic at that moment. They decide that allows them to salvage whatever they want from the ship. Of course, they don’t bother to figure out why the freighter sank or how before they bring their finds back into their homes. That’s how the monster gets loose…

The Verdict

“Save… Yourself…”

Okay, so here’s the deal – In 1989, four undersea sci-fi movies came out.

  • Deepstar Six (January 13)
  • Leviathan (March 17)
  • Lords of the Deep (June 2)
  • The Abyss (August 9)

There are only so many special effects houses, and they’re not all equally good. There are only so many directors, cinematographers, technical experts, and so on, and they’re not all equally good. The Abyss had the biggest budget, and hired the best people. Heck, James Cameron sponsored the development of new underwater diving suits just so he could see his actors’ faces better in the underwater sequences. That kind of attention to detail and innovation is why we remember The Abyss and not the other three.

Leviathan has good performances. The pacing and writing are sloppy. There are tons of plot holes, and dangling plot threads. For example, it seems like the boss character (played by Meg Foster) is supposed to be lying to and betraying her crew in order to recover the monster, the way Peter Riegert’s character does in Aliens (1986), but that’s never developed. In fact, when I watched it recently, I found her last scene jarring and a little offensive (Peter Weller’s character punches her out).

The monster is just a rubbery mess. I mean, you can see the wires. It takes too long for the horror to start, and then you see too much too soon.

On the other hand, it’s better than Lords of the Deep.

Disagree?

Did you hate The Abyss? Have you got a soft spot for Deepstar Six? Defend your preference in the comments!

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