Friday, October 2, 2009

Underwater City

In general, I do my best to avoid giving spoilers in these blog posts. I try to describe a film without telling you any of the major twists and I try to use screenshots that give a sense of the action without giving anything away. I should say in advance, then, that this post includes spoilers. Though quite how you could spoil Underwater City is beyond me...

Underwater City does (surprisingly enough) exactly what it says on the tin. It is the story of a scientist's plan to build a city on the seabed, totally self-sufficient and capable of sustaining life indefinitely. He has to justify his intentions (with vague claims about the seabed being the only safe post-nuclear-winter hideout) to his contracted builder, who is far more keen to get on with building a city on the moon.

The version I had was recorded from tv, so not the best quality...

So far, so good. If I was writing the script here, I'd feel I've got a good premise. So we're going to send a bunch of characters deep underwater to build this city and.... then what? What will be do with these characters? What disasters could befall them?

Sadly the real script-writers also seem to have got stuck at this point. Literally nothing happens. The film is only 75 mins or so long and it uses up a good 60 of these setting up the underwater city with no real hitch. We've got heaps of characters; the scientist, the architent, the navy lieutenant, his new wife, a dietician etc etc... and no story.

[Here comes spoilers, but face it: you're never going to watch this anyway!] Suddenly, in the last 15 minutes we discover that the entire city has mistakenly been built on a thin layer over a massive ocean trench, the person who discovers this falls through to his death, delegates from Washington arrive to confirm the city as a part of America, the whole thing starts to fall apart, everyone escapes.

What? I mean seriopusly... what? Not only does all the action of the film take place in the last 15 minutes, but it's also not half as exciting as that sounds! They explain away the mistake of the city's location by pointing out that the diver who was conducting the geological survey fell into an Ocean trench and died. No-one ever completed the survey. ... Hang on! The guy checking whether it was safe to build there DIED. And no-one thought that maybe that implies it was unsafe? Apparently not...

The (only) review on IMDb labels it as pleasant, inoffensive sci-fi, and is pretty much spot-on. There is nothing scary, nothing controversial, nothing rude... it's not even particularly bad, just not very good either. It's the kind of film that should be shown on bank-holidays in the daytime.

It also contains perhaps my favourite line ever uttered on screen:
"A swift current, as fast as a mighty river, but much faster"

Oh dear...

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