Leviathan is great underwater creature feature fun that I have no problem watching yearly.
The cast is quite good (though I wasn't sure if Peter Weller was phoning it in or just being Peter Weller) with Richard Crenna giving the best performance. The creature effects are fun and sometimes creepy and the movie moves along briskly and doesn't overstay its welcome.
It is, of course, cheesy at times. The last five minutes of the movie are so different in tone and so bad that it nearly kills everything that preceded it. It could have just ended when they surfaced, but no, we had to get sharks... then more monster... then our hero punching a woman? What?
This movie will unfairly be compared to The Thing and Alien... well, they're fair comparisons in plot, but not in quality. Just because this movie doesn't quite reach those levels in entertainment doesn't mean this movie should be completely dismissed. It's far better than many of the other ripoffs of those movies. If this were a race, Leviathan may be a distant third, but it's still third! That's still a medal!
If you're looking for a sci-fi horror film in the vein of Alien or The Thing, you can't go wrong with this movie. There's nothing so abhorrent about it to not recommend it to fans of monster movies like those.
So the plot here is basically 'Alien' combined with 'Aliens' and 'The Abyss' along with various other horror movies such as 'The Thing'. A small team of undersea miners are on the ocean floor erm...mining stuff, when along the line one crew member discovers a sunken Russian vessel which contains a deadly secret. This turns out to be a mutagen of some kind that infects a crew member killing him, his body then begins to mutate into a sea creature and I'm sure you can guess how this goes.
The general idea is not completely identical to the James Cameron 80's filmography, the creature is basically a toxic mutant which is made up of the various dead crew members. This thing absorbs its victims intellect and is physically formed by the crew members bodies...or something like that. The crew members don't appear to be completely dead, more like trapped within this creatures body or they are being slowly absorbed/digested (?). Anyhow the visual design is not entirely shown in the movie, its kept out of sight and hidden behind lots of steel pipes, but what you do see revolves around tentacles (as usual) and snapping maws. The look of of the beast and the way it mutates does run along similar lines to John Carpenter's 'The Thing' where as everything else is 'Alien' within the set of 'The Abyss'.
Put it this way the special effects are a solid example of old fashioned hands-on craftsmanship with plenty of blood gore goo and body shock horror, the good old days. Despite the fact Stan Winston, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. worked on the effects they aren't the best you will see, like I say they are solid and fun for fanboys of the craft but the other movies of the day were better examples. I think the creature is mostly hidden because they knew it wasn't too good, earlier in the film the smaller leech type things were effective but the main creature is a bit of a lifeless lump.
The deep sea base set does actually look pretty good with some obviously solid production values in play. Again if you think of the Nostromo and the Deep Core combined then you have a good idea of the visuals. Lots of metal corridors, pipes, gratings, the odd beige coloured medical bay, beige living quarters etc...its all too familiar really. I did like the deep sea diving suits they use which have a nice futuristic realistic look, more like space suits admittedly but that tends to be the way with these types of movies.
Although not actually filmed under the sea the film does look very good with some brilliant use of indoor sets, heavy mist and lighting, it does look as though its on the ocean floor. This is helped by good camera angles with the crew in their suits when walking around, a great submerged Russian shipwreck and lots of little floating bits in front of the camera to simulate the deep moving ocean.
I guess overall this movie is just way too much of a carbon copy of the other movies I've mentioned. The characters are all extremely cliched and look like they've just stepped off the set of the 'Alien' franchise. Richard Crenna would be the Ash/Bishop character, Ernie Hudson is Parker, Daniel Stern would be Brett/Hudson, Eilbacher would be Lambert etc...and yes I did just mention Daniel Stern who was totally miscast incidentally oh and his characters name is Sixpack. Along with that the plot trundles by exactly the same as the Scott/Cameron flicks. I mean Exactly the same right down to the self destruct finale with loud computer countdown, the company knowing all about the mutagen and setting the crew up and ridiculously similar weapons including the obligatory flame thrower.
The finale doesn't really help its case either with a brief shark attack that ends just as quickly as its starts, the coastguard flying overhead at the exact moment the survivors surface and the fact the beastie seemingly comes back from its watery grave. Its a bizarre finale really as we see the creature getting crushed and then the entire deep sea base implodes...yet it manages to survive.The movie then still continues as we see Peter Weller getting his own back on the company director or representative by punching her out!! he knocks out a woman! Everything about the finale just feels tacked on and rushed, as though they weren't sure what to do...and it really shows. It is a fun deep sea thriller but its not very scary truth be told and in an era of sci-fi classics this movie fell well short I'm afraid, but its not a total loss.
Good actors with Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson, Daniel Stern and Amanda Pays.
Some deep sea drillers get more than they are looking for when they uncover a Russian ship that was sunk for a reason.
A pretty good ensemble cast including Weller, Stern and Hudson, but obviously don't expect too much. The script and direction are middling, but nothing too bad. The plot takes a little while to get moving, but once it does, it creates some decently creepy moments.
The creature is pretty cool. I certainly wasn't expecting much from an 80's mid-budget monster, but Stan Winston never disappointed. Certainly an original and interesting critter. Beyond that, the story is fairly cliche, and I'm quite sure you can guess who lives and dies in the end about 5 minutes into the film.
Again, alot of positives, but its just not original enough for me to rank better. If you're looking for a good monster movie, you could do much worse.
Stan Winston was one of the best in the business, and his work here showcases that talent. It's not one of his best, but it sure was refreshing to revisit a film with an actual effects team and not a bunch of guys making them up on a computer. I was only disappointed in the finale, when you finally get a chance to see the creature in the daylight, but director George P. Cosmatos instead chooses to show him in only quick cut-aways. Apparently, he had a lot less confidence in Winston's abilities than the genre's true fans.
Cosmatos gets a lot of flack for his films, but this one moves along at a brisk pace save for the set-up thatr actually takes the time to introduce the characters. That was something of a pleasant rarity as well. The cast is a lot of fun, and everyone is very convincing in their roles despite some of the ludicrous dialogue they are forced to say. That only adds to the fun to be had here, but I do wish that there had been more of a backstory involving the creature's origin. That would have fleshed the story out some and strengthened the opening half.
But as it stands, "Leviathan" is a surprisingly solid B-movie that has held up pretty well over the years. The sets are impressive, as are the effects lending this the look and feel of a much more prestigious and expensive project even if the story is as pieced together as its creature.