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Leviathan (1989) - Blu-ray Review

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Leviathan (1989) - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Following the discovery of a wrecked Soviet submarine and a spiked flask of vodka, one undersea mining crew is about to have a very bad day in George P. Cosmatos’ Leviathan.  This undersea monster movie came and went to theaters in 1989 but has recently been rescued from Davy Jones’s locker by the fine folks over at Scream Factory.  While it was originally dismissed by critics in its initial run as an Alien knockoff, Leviathan proves unsinkable with solid acting, great tension, and an airtight script penned by David Webb Peoples and Jeb Stuart.

The suspense in this tale of undersea claustrophobia is fueled by the tense acting from Hector Elizondo, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Richard Crenner and Peter Weller.  The rampant machismo is not surprising considering the talent but the familiar faces assist in also humanizing the science fiction aspect of the tale.  Which is good considering the first half of the picture is designed more as a viral outbreak procedural in which the miners try to figure out exactly what is going on.  

Crew members are examined.  Some have weird lesions on their back.  Others are too far gone.  Something strange is going on; something that mirrors what happened on the scuttled Soviet submarine.  The human dynamics are key in building the pressure that results in the big reveal of the true leviathan.  Experimented on by mutagens, an entirely new creature has been born from human flesh and churns its way toward the next victim.  

The tentacled monster - designed by Stan Winston - doesn’t make its appearance until late in the picture.  The suspense is tight and nearly to the breaking point as the truth is revealed and then the violence pours forth as chaos and mining politics is unleashed.  Cosmatos’ direction is taut and, as he is responsible for bringing Rambo into the mainstream with Rambo: First Blood Part Two and the steely-eyed b-movie vibe of Tombstone, there are some strong moments worthy of blu-ray reconsiderations as the film is platformed onto a new audience.

As mentioned earlier, Leviathan arrived in 1989.  Alongside titles like The Abyss and DeepStar Six, that was the summer of watery monsters and other deep-sixed productions.  It didn’t have a great chance to survive and joined a long list of other nautical flicks that went straight to the bottom of the sea.  Perhaps it has been granted a new life on blu-ray.

While Scream Factory’s release is welcomed, their efforts don’t fix some of Leviathan’s more mundane monster movie aspects.

Leviathan (1989) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
98 mins
Director
: George P. Cosmatos
Writer: David Webb Peoples
Cast:
Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays
Genre
: Adventure | Horror | Sci-Fi
Tagline:
The true meaning of fear
Memorable Movie Quote: "And Sixpack, if you call me Becky one more time I'm going to pop your tops, all six of them."
Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 17, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 19, 2014
Synopsis: Underwater deep-sea miners encounter a Soviet wreck and bring back a dangerous cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. The crew of the mining base must fight to survive against a genetic mutation that hunts them down one by one.

Leviathan (1989) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 19, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Leviathan is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.34:1.  Overall, the 1080p transfer is pretty good.  There is something about the period’s shooting techniques that usually render these transfers with questionable sharpness and sometimes fuzzy moments.  Clarity is largely strong resulting in the best the picture has ever looked - although razor-sharp images are not to be expected.  Print flaws are modest with occasional small dirt specks from time to time.  Colors are merely decent as the film stock from the era tends to NOT be the most dynamic.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is serviceable at best with some bangs and clangs in the surround field.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Once again, Scream Factory kills with some seriously awesome bonus material.  There are a total of three featurettes including one on the monster’s construction (with great production notes on working with Stan Winston), there’s one with Hector Elizondo talking about his character, one with Ernie Hudson, and trailers for Leviathan, Without Warning, Lake Placid, Saturn 3, and Swamp Thing.

  • Monster Melting Pot (40 min)
  • Dissecting Cob (12 min)
  • Surviving Leviathan (15 min)

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