Movie Information

Occasional perks await within the derivative sci-fi/horror schlock.
Genre: Action/Horror
Director: William Eubank
Starring: Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, Vincent Cassel
Rated: PG-13

Sometimes it’s good to have low expectations. After seeing a trailer for Underwater a while back, I presumed it was going to be an over-stylized, big budget piece of cinematic rubbish. While it is indeed derivative sci-fi/horror schlock, director William Eubanks (The Signal) mercifully delivers a nonstop adrenaline ride that comes in at a tight 95-minute running time and manages to pack a couple of crowd-jumping “gotcha” moments along the way.

Underwater is essentially Alien set a couple of leagues beneath the sea, but is nowhere near as good as the Ridley Scott classic. Eubanks takes cues from other movie juggernauts, such as James Cameron’s The Abyss and Titanic, the most recent version of Godzilla and even The Poseidon Adventure. But whether this is a case of homage or imitation being the greatest form of flattery . . . who can say?

Kristen Stewart leads a solid cast, which also includes the always enjoyable Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s 12). Unfortunately, the actors are not given enough to work with. The script ranges from B movie (which can make for a great popcorn flick) to taking itself altogether too seriously.

Like her former flame and Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, Stewart strives to avoid being pigeonholed and proves she’s got the talent to handle an action film — but silhouetted cutaways to pensive moments in her skivvies while facing death at the bottom of the ocean doesn’t bring gravitas to her performance or the film.

For moviegoers who aren’t beating a path to this year’s Oscar-nominated films and just want a few thrills, Underwater delivers, as somewhat annoyingly demonstrated by the enthusiastic audience with whom I saw it. If all of the above sounds appealing, maybe you won’t mind throwing $13 per ticket into the great box office abyss.

About Michelle Keenan
Michelle Keenan is the Associate Director of Development at Blue Ridge Public Radio. She also reviews movies for Reel Takes / Rapid River Magazine. She is a member of the Southeast Film Critics Association (SEFCA).

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