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MGM Studios DVD presents
Into the Blue (2005)

"He always finds these things. It's the ships that are always missing."
- Sam (Jessica Alba)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 27, 2005

Stars: Jessica Alba, Paul Walker
Other Stars: Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, James Frain, Tyson Beckford
Director: John Stockwell

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, drug material, some sexual content and language
Run Time: 01h:50m:06s
Release Date: December 26, 2005
UPC: 043396118195
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Director John Stockwell (Blue Crush) once again returns to an ocean setting for Into The Blue, effortlessly parading the finely carved bodies of Paul Walker and Jessica Alba as a pair of "poor but in love," stylishly-dilapidated-trailer-dwelling Bahamian locals who stumble upon a chance to make it rich.

Walker is Jared, a frustrated treasure seeker, while Alba plays level-headed Sam, who works in the shark tank at a local aquarium, and a chance discovery of some once-buried booty ("the mother lode of all mother lodes") from a legendary shipwreck on the ocean floor also leads them to the wreckage of an airplane crammed with a shipment of cocaine. But that's just the start of their problems. A visit from old pal Bryce (Scott Caan), a boisterous lawyer for drug traffickers, and his latest girlfriend Amanda (Ashley Scott), force a battle of morals, as he proclaims the funds needed to claim and raise the shipwreck treasure could come from the sale of the coke. All that's left is to mix in an unscrupulous local treasure hunter (Josh Brolin) and some very violent drug thugs eager to get their lost drug stash back.

The screenplay comes from the somewhat improved pen of Matt Johnson—who wrote the godawful Torque—an annoyingly noisy, one-note film that on first glance appeared to have been constructed out of leftover moth-eaten clichés and over-ratcheted machismo. Not that Into The Blue isn't littered with much of the same one dimensionality, but it is presented with much less of an MTV-induced hammer to the skull, and to his credit Stockwell is able to stretch the fairly bare plot to nearly two hours by relying largely on the talents of underwater cinematographer Peter Zuccarini to act as a sort of visual morphine.

Sure, there's plenty of colorful fish and sharks to look at, but Zuccarini and Stockwell none too subtlety mine the physical attributes of the chiseled frames of Walker and Alba—and to a lesser extent the underused Ashley Scott—by frequently resorting to beautiful but hopelessly leering shots of them undulating (I mean swimming) underwater. No surprise, but it's Alba and her wiggly rear end who gets most of the screen time early on, and I think if there was an equation to measure her dialogue versus shots of her butt the dialogue would lose by a landslide. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but some of the angles and closeups of her wedgie-induced bikini bottom seemed even a bit gratuitous for me, though I did enjoy the way she swam to the surface, as if she were riding some kind of invisible stripper pole.

The film slowly builds to a nice chunk of bloody, action-related violence, especially for a PG-13 film—featuring an assortment of bad guys, spearguns, sharks and axes—that livens up the last act enough to almost make me forget the stutter steps of the storyline that proceeded it. It would be incredibly easy to be merciless on a film like Into the Blue, one that relies so blatantly on showing the admittedly remarkable body of Jessica Alba in lieu of plot development, and I'd seen it done in countless reviews when this was released theatrically.

Maybe I'm just a B-movie simpleton at times, but I had turned my logical mind off when I saw the menu screen featuring closeup footage of Alba's bosom (must be cold in the Bahamas), and as a result my expectations were never eclipsed by Stockwell's compartmentalized reality. It's eye candy disguised as a movie. I have no problem with that.

Mongo like the pretty pictures.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer suffers from a wee bit of shimmer, but otherwise it's really quite beautiful. The print is clean, with a decent level of image detail, but the transfer excels when the action hits the water. The underwater cinematography of Peter Zuccarini looks particularly stunning, sporting rich blues and an assortment of other vibrant colors, and combine that with Jessica Alba in a very small bikini and you have a nifty little showcase disc to show off that new bigscreen of yours.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The primary audio track is an English language 5.1 Dolby Digital surround option, and elements like the musical score have the most significant degree of fullness, punctuated by some moderate sub activity. Dialogue is clear, largely front centric, while rears get used for creaky boat or lapping wave effects.

A French language 2.0 surround track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Da Vinci Code, The Legend of Zorro, The Pink Panther, Open Season, Rent, Stealth, The Fog, The Cave
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by John Stockwell
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Supplements include a commentary track from director John Stockwell, and despite the fact that I really felt no compulsion to learn any more about Into the Blue, I found the track to be not quite the challenge to listen to I had expected. As with a lot of commentaries, some of the general input could really be about any film (the location info, for example), but Stockwell stresses how no CG or animatronic sharks were used, and discusses the issues involved with having actors in the water with live sharks. We learn about Paul Walker's ear polyps, the problems of working a carefully stage topless scene into a PG-13 movie, and how some of the real-life free divers who worked on the film could go under for 3 or 4 minutes at a time, much like what a number of the characters did on a regular basis.

Diving Deeper Into the Blue (20m:33s) is a standard-issued glossy EPK, filled with plenty of film clips mixed with pleasant chatter about the production from Stockwell, Jessica Alba, Paul Walker, Ashley Scott, etc. Stockwell mentions how the "actors are comfortable in their own skin", and since we see quite a bit of it here, that's a good thing. A set of 10 deleted scenes, available with optional Stockwell commentary, include an optional opening sequence that has Paul Walker rescuing a drowning little boy. Most of the scenes run around a minute or so, with two clocking in over three minutes. There are three screen test clips, as well, featuring Scott Caan (03m:37s). Scott Caan with Paul Walker (:58s) and Tyson Beckford (:55s), so those seeking more Alba will have to look elsewhere.

For this unnecessarily slipcased release, Sony has included a set of eight assorted trailers (though none for the feature), with the disc itself cut into 28 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or French.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

When the mood strikes, I'm a fan of no-brainer entertainment, and this one fulfills most of those requirements, with stock characters, gorgeous underwater scenery, Jessica Alba in bikini and a bit of action tossed in for good measure. The story takes a while to develop fully, and while I secretly hoped Scott Caan's annoying character would get eaten by a shark early in the picture, the striking underwater cinematography really saves Into the Blue from coming across as being too relentlessly simplistic.

It's a B film that tries to look Grade A, and I might even say it's worth a rental if your tastes occasionally crave nothing too deep.


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