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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 20, 2020


kristen stewart with captain lucien

KRISTEN STEWART’s last movie in 2019 was a big flop, the reboot of “Charlie’s Angels”. Her first movie for 2020 is another box office loser, “Underwater”, a sci-fi movie set 36,000 feet under the sea. Maybe she should fire her agent for giving her two consecutive duds.

Kristen plays Nora in “Underwater”, a mechanical engineer working in a drilling research laboratory, the Kepler Station, deep in the Marianas Trench. 

She is all alone in the opening scene, thinking about a ponderous relationship in a voice over naration, when the underwater rig starts to leak, then explodes and collapses all around her. She runs to save herself and, on her way out, meets two colleagues, Mamodoe Athie and TJ Miller.

Later on, they meet their captain, Lucien (Vincent Cassel) and two more crew members Emily (Jessica Henwick, the pretty Asian actress from the Netflix Marvel series, “Iron Fist”) and Smith (John Gallagher.)

Somehow, we get to care for these people’s safety even if we don’t really know much about them and we also don’t have any clue as to what caused the disastrous explosions in their deep sea operations.

Much of what we know about the laboratory facility is what we read from newspaper headlines and documents that were shown in an earlier montage sequence during the opening credits.

It’s just like they give you some bullet points and you, the viewer, are expected to connect the dots by yourself when all hell breaks loose and you can start playing the game in movies like this guessing as to which of he remaining survivors will die first.

To survive, the remaining characters have to walk a mile on the ocean floor to get to another station where they hope to access some escape pods that will lead them to safety. Along the way, they get attacked by some nebulous creatures.

Some look like giant squids or octopus, but with more tentacles, and some look humanoid but very menacing. Obviously, they’re meant to be unknown species living down the depths of the ocean that we humans have yet to meet and fully identify. They’re just waiting there to give Jules Vernes and his 20,000 leagues a run for their money.

The movie will actually remind you of Ridley Scott’s 1979 landmark sci-fi films, “Alien”, only it’s not set in outerspace (where “no one can hear you scream”) but deep down under the sea, but with no Arielle singing “Part of Your World”.

In predictable fashion, we know that Kristen will eventually lose her companions, one by one, until she becomes like Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in “Alien”, an apha female aggressively confronting their foes sexily in just her bra and panties.

The movie is directed by William Eubank, who earlier did the creepy sci-fi film about alien abduction, “The Signal”. Now, his new work is submerged under water and he succeeds in creating a sinister claustrophobic atsmophere but the way he executes so many scenes seems so inept.

A lot of scenes are darkly lit and looks so murky and unclear on screen, so he often just resorts to jump scares and a jolting sound design to create more tension.

We don’t know if this is deliberate since they lacked the right budget to come up with better CGI and clearer cinematography, but the effect is so discombobulating as there are scenes so incoherent that you cannot really figure out what’s happening on screen and what causes the death of some characters.

Add to this the fact that they’re all waring those bulky diving suits that make them look like astronauts who sauntered in from “Apollo 11 (“yes, Houston, we have a problem.”)

In fairness to Kristen, her star presence as the anchor holds the film together and brings some much needed energy to what’s going on. But just like in “Charlie’s Angel”, she has a palpable very butch element in her, even if she looks so sexy in the scenes where she’s scantily clad.

With this water-logged yawner and “Charlie’s Angel”, it looks like she wants to cultivate more the image of an action hero than the sweet young heroine she did in the highly successful “Twilight” franchise.

But she and the audience both deserve a better movie. Her co-stars didn’t get to do anything much and, as maybe expected, just like the movie, they all sink underwater.