The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1977
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 124 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Starring: Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset, Louis Gossett, Eli Wallach
Directed by: Peter Yates
Music by: John Barry
Written by: Peter Benchley & Tracy Keenan Wynn based on the novel by Peter Benchley
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 7, 2009
"Is anything worth the terror of The Deep?"
This lavish, suspense-filled film was made from Peter (Jaws) Benchley's best-selling novel. Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) and David Sanders (Nick Nolte) are on a romantic holiday in Bermuda when they come upon the sunken wreck of a WWII freighter. Near it, they find an ampoule of morphine, one of tens of thousands still aboard the wrecked ship. Their discovery leads them to a Haitian drug dealer, Cloche (Louis Gossett), and an old treasure hunter, Romer Treece (Robert Shaw). With Cloche in pursuit, Gail, David and Treece try to recover the sunken treasure.
When I was in high school The Deep was played heavily on cable TV. I haven't seen it in years but remembered thinking it was a pretty decent movie. I can also recall when Jacqueline Bisset was all the rage and she looked great in this film. The plot is straight forward and offers no unexpected twists to speak of. That isn't a bad thing though it is allows the audience to get caught up in the story's subtle intrigue and moderately suspenseful elements. It revolves around a young couple who is vacationing in Bermuda and happen upon the wreckage of the Goliath, a WWII ship, while deep sea diving. The ship has been declared off limits for salvage or treasure hunting due to the instability of its location and deadly onboard munitions. Gail finds a liquid filled ampoule near the damaged hull and when they return with it find out that it is part of the sunken ship's large cargo of morpheme that today would fetch a hefty price on the drug market. A local Haitian crime lord, Cloche, gets wind of their find and takes an interest in the couple. At the same dive site they also found what appeared to be a Spanish medallion and turn to Romer Treece, a successful local treasurer hunter, to determine its worth. Unbeknownst to them he sees the ampoule and takes more of an interest in that than the medallion. Afterward David and Gail end up having a rather nasty run in with Cloche regarding the ampoule and realize that there is more going on than meets the eye. Treece informs them of the presence of the morpheme and its worth/interest to a man like Cloche. Treece strikes a bargain with Cloche and returns to the wreck with David and Gail to gather the Morpheme. None of them were prepared for what they would discover lying beneath the Goliath's remains. This discovery would lead them on a quest for treasure, fame, and ultimately endanger their very lives.
The Deep features extensive underwater sequences filmed in various tropical locations. The cast and crew had to learn to deep sea dive and before production ended they had made well over 9,000 dives. At two hours the film runs a bit too long but there is enough depth to the story and characters to keep interest going. I felt that Nolte, Bisset, and Shaw as the three main players were excellent. Unfortunately Louis Gossett and Eli Wallach, two fine actors, didn't have enough time onscreen to be truly effective in their roles. As the film's antagonist I felt that Cloche (Gossett) lacked the character interplay necessary to truly fear or dislike him. Adam (Wallach), playing the drunken survivor of the original crew of the Goliath who becomes the treacherous go between had a bit more opportunity but still felt wasted. Regardless I think that this is a competent and engaging thriller that features good casting, strong direction and excellent cinematography. I haven't seen it in a long time and watching it again after all these years proved rewarding.
The rating is for language, violence, and thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Deep comes to Blu-ray Disc from Columbia Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.
This high definition presentation delivered fair to good overall image quality that appeared faithful to the film's original elements. Its high definition video offered a good amount of appreciable fine detail during close ups and certain wide angle camera shots. The exterior shots of Bermuda and the beach/shore locations looked particularly striking with beautifully rendered colors and clear definition. This was more the exception than the rule as many of the longer range visuals didn't have that level of deep image penetration. Sharpness was good but occasionally inconsistent as the image softened at times. The variety of period colors and earth toned hues were reproduced naturally. Blues were vivid, deeply saturated and eye catching while reds appeared to lean more toward orange. Blacks were merely above average which left many of the dark sequences appearing a bit flat and lackluster. On the other hand those same scenes had an improved sense of depth thanks to an appreciable level of visible detail in darkened areas and low lit backgrounds. Grain is preserved naturally and is visible throughout. Occasionally it takes on more prominence but I didn't find it to be problematic. All things considered I think that this 30 plus year old film looks very good in high definition.
The lossless soundtrack made the most of what it had to work with in the source elements present in the recording. Dialogue was crisp, well intonated and mixed to a prominent position within the front soundstage. Sound effects and panning sequences emanating from the main channels were seamlessly integrated with discernible separation and average sound field penetration. The film includes some active elements such as explosions and the underwater heaving/creaking of the shipwrecked vessel. It didn't have the feeling of authority and quantifiable dynamics that you might find with today's digital soundtracks but it exerted tangible influence with a fair level of impact and clarity. There was no subterranean bass contained in this mix however low frequency detail was present and detectable during a handful of scenes. The surround channels were used mainly for atmospheric ambience that provided a good sense of envelopment but not to the level of being engagingly immersive. I thought it sounded fine.
- (HD) The making of The Deep - 48 minute documentary hosted/narrated by Robert Shaw
- (HD) 6 selected scenes from the 3 hour special edition
- (HD) 6 BD Previews
- BD-Live enabled
It goes without saying that author/screenwriter Peter Benchley knows how to tell a good story. The Deep(based on his novel of the same name) doesn't have the intensity and variety of plot driven twists and turns that we see from some of today's genre films but it nevertheless tells and engaging and entertaining story that is well executed by both the cast and production team. It doesn't have the high gloss imagery and room shaking sound of today's newer films being released in high definition but fans should be pleased with it presentation here as it looks and sounds very good on Blu-ray Disc. Sony/Columbia Pictures has included the original 48 minute documentary which captures the making of them film in excellent detail. There are 6 additional scenes, BD previews and BD-Live access as well. Definitely a worthy package for fans.
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