Sunday 9 February 2020

Underwater by Duffield and Cozad

Kristen Stewart is on a roll, and she's come a long way from the days of the Twilight movies — when her sulky persona was so hilariously lampooned in Vampires Suck.

Now, however, she's a genuine high voltage movie star and I've been knocked out by her ever since I saw Seberg, a terrific low profile film which was one of the finest of 2019.

Now she's back in Underwater, still sporting her short blonde hair — in fact it's even shorter — and looking gamine and great. Indeed, she's the main reason to watch this movie.

Underwater could have been terrific if it had followed what seemed to be its initial trajectory: a gritty account of an industrial disaster on a mining station at sea, like a kind of futuristic version of Deepwater Horizon — which was a memorable film.
And maybe there was an early draft of the script where that was the idea. But pretty soon the monsters start turning up... and very un-frightening CG creations they prove to be.

Although, in fairness, when the Big Bad arrives, it is actually pretty impressive. But not enough to save the movie.

The problem here is, we have quite an engaging cast of characters, with some fine actors, notably Stewart as the engineer and Vincent Cassel as the captain...

And the audience's sympathy is very much with them in their struggle to survive the collapse of their underwater station...

But once those rather routine monsters enter the story, it's hard to maintain much belief or engagement.

The movie looks magnificent, with great production design. Although, as you can see, it couldn't have existed without Ridley Scott's Alien, still exerting an enormous influence 40 years on.

As a matter of fact, Underwater is a kind of sub-aquatic Alien, though without the devastating nemesis necessary to drive the plot.

Still, Kirsten Stewart is supremely watchable and pretty much carries the entire film. We care about her even when the threat is dumb computer generated monsters.

The for Underwater script is by Brian Duffield, who worked on Jane Got a Gun, with a rewrite by Adam Cozad whose credits include Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

It was directed by William Eubank who overdoes the murky, half-seen underwater menace. It's occasionally not clear what is going on.

What is clear though, is that Kristen Stewart is a star to watch. And Underwater is worth watching, too, providing you go in with fairly low expectations. 

Not quite seven miles deep, but fairly low...

(Image credits: Only three posters at Imp Awards. So I've supplemented then with some stills from Hollywood Life, and the French landscape poster from Scifi-Movies.)

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