Surprisingly often in under-the-radar franchises, you get a very tardy, bland Part 2 that’s a cheapo, star-free remake of the original – clearing the way for a livelier, more entertaining Part 3. That’s the case with Deep Blue Sea 3, which is no Deep Blue Sea but no Deep Blue Sea 2 either. Three gentically-engineered smart sharks stray into a floating eco-village where Tania Raymonde, in the demanding role of super-hot ichthyologist, and a nicely-sketched crew of probably doomed sidekicks are studying marine life. The sharks are dangerous, but so’s the brutal Aussie merc (Bren Foster) who arrives to cover up the usual mad science big pharma mess.
John Pogue, the director of Quarantine 2, and Dirk Blackman, the writer of Underworld Rise of the Lycans, manage decent sequelcraft – canny variations on bits from the original (including several shocking sharkbites), along with decent low-budget action stuff, good physical performances from a game non-star cast (Raymonde’s face offs with the human and fishy alpha predators are solidly staged) and CGI sharks a few computer passes above the norm in the jawsploitation knock-offs. About halfway through I realised I actually cared whether the nerdy guy in the Hawaiian shirt (Alex Bhat) and the cute sarcastic Japanese grad student (Reina Aoi) a) got together, and b) avoided getting eaten … that’s a more honest emotion than I’ve ever felt in a Michael Bay film made on a thousand times the budget. Still, I’m hoping for Saffron Burrows in an eyepatch with a pegleg to turn up in Deep Blue Sea 4 – or at least a prologue in which the last surviving shark tracks down and eats LL Cool J.