Dark Waters (2003) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence and some sexuality
Running Time: 92 min.

Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Simmone Jade MacKinnon, Jeffrey Gorman, Bruce Gray, Rodrigo Abed
Director: Phillip J. Roth

Screenplay: Phillip J. Roth, Brett Orr
Review published September 22, 2005

Once in a while, I'll have someone ask me why I would intentionally watch a film I knew would be bad, and my glib response is usually that it's to maintain integrity for the star system of my reviews.  Once in a while, it's necessary to watch the worst of movies, just to remember what a one-star film is like, because if I were spoiled by watching nothing but great movies, the mediocre movies would seem far worse than they really are.  Of course, I merely say this in jest.  The real reason is that sometimes there is just as much entertainment value in bad films as good ones, although it's only because of the enjoyment of laughing at it.  Maybe there's a streak of movie masochist in me.

I'm going to venture that anyone contemplating watching any film starring Lorenzo Lamas ("Falcon Crest", Grease) is an avowed glutton for punishment, and already knows what to expect from a cheapie schlock action travesty like Dark Waters.  Another tip-off as to the film's quality comes from the fact that Phillip J. Roth (Velocity Trap)  is the writer, director and co-producer, who has made a career in b-movies that would make Roger Corman tip his hat.  The recipe for disaster was already written before the film started shooting.

Dark Waters starts off of the shores of Mexico, where a deep-sea oil rig comes brutally under attack by several deadly sharks, seemingly acting in unison to destroy it.  Savvy marine biologists Lamas and MacKinnon (Attila, Deep Shock) are kidnapped and made a generous offer to head a submarine expedition to investigate what was the cause, and soon they discover that the sharks are part of a military operation to bioengineer sharks into weapons of destruction.  Seemingly over their heads, the crew must find a way to escape the military, in addition to keeping the sharks from doing any more damage to life and property.

I could go into a list of all of the things that makes Dark Waters a bad film, but I don't have the time or patience to try to recount something of that magnitude.  Suffice it to say, there's almost nothing redeeming about it.  The casting is laughable, which is probably appropriate to the poorly developed characterizations that permeate the screenplay.  Basically, Lamas walks around open-shirted, while MacKinnon wear the tightest, most low-cut apparel she can, in addition to finding a way to get wet in almost every scene. 

The special effects are a bit of a mixed bag, as they aren't as bad as one could have imagined from a film this inexpensive, but on the other hand, they are still very unrealistic.  In particular, the physics of the computer generated sharks are questionable, and there is some redundancy to the special effects that is too noticeable to ignore.  Cheesy sets and costumes fill the scenery, but it's to be expected from a straight-to-video adventure like this.  Really, the biggest problem is that Dark Waters, and probably most Roth productions, just doesn't have the budget to pull off the type of grand scale action with any credibility, and the poor quality shows in almost every frame.

Dark Waters is a truly inept, poorly conceived action thriller that cold only please those viewers who tune in to the Sci-Fi Channel as their main source for entertainment.  It takes an already bad film, Deep Blue Sea, and makes it worse in almost every conceivable fashion.  If there are any movie producers out there right now reading this, just remember, really smart sharks = really dumb idea.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo