Leviathan

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 4, 2014

    Released by: Scream Factory
    Release date: 8/19/2014
    MSRP: $24.97
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
    1989



    With success comes sequels and rip-offs. Some of those rip-offs are fun and some aren't so fun. Leviathan tends to borrow a lot from Alien and Aliens, with a dash of The Thing sprinkled on top. Don't forget that The Thing originally wasn't a theatrical success, however. It was only later on home video did Carpenter's masterpiece finds its audience. Call it what you will, 1989 saw the release of Leviathan, an under water monster flick.

    Shout Factory and their Scream Factory line reminds me of Anchor Bay back in the early DVD days. They are releasing some gems onto the format and doing some real magic with supplements, alternate cuts, and limited editions. Like Anchor Bay, they have both their hits and their misses. Lets have a look at their Leviathan bluray and see how they did with this one.

    The Story

    inline Image A deep sea mining team, led by Steven Beck (Peter Weller), is winding down its 90 day mission. Beck's crew consists of 'Doc' (Richard Crenna), 'Sixpack' (Daniel Stern), Jones (Ernie Hudson), 'DeJesus' (Michael Carmine), Williams (Amanda Pays), Bowman (Lisa Elibacher), and Cobb (Hector Elizondo). While out mining on the ocean floor, DeJesus suffers a bout of anxiety and nearly dies. After getting him back inside for medical attention, Beck suggests the group pull an extra shift that night so they can take a much needed day off.

    When underwater operations resume, a small mishap leads Sixpack to the bottom of a ridge where he discovers the wreck of a Russian ship. In the ship he discovers a safe that he recovers. Back at base, the group empties the contents of the safe. Beck impounds all the contents but Sixpack manages to pocket a flask of vodka. Several of the crew then break into Beck's locker and take a bottle of vodka found in the safe. They celebrate with a round of shots. Soon after, Sixpack becomes sick.

    inline Image Beck's surface contact for the mining company, Tri-Oceanic, is Ms. Martin (Meg Foster). With more crew members becoming sick, Beck considers an emergency evacuation. Ms. Martin discourages it, reminding Beck he only has 24 hours left on the shift and that a premature evacuation will look bad on his record.

    Doc's analysis of the crew indicates an organism of unknown origin present in their skin cells. Soon after this diagnosis, a creature emerges and begins attacking what is left of the crew. Those still alive must fight off the creature while trying to figure out how to reach safety at the surface.

    inline Image The movie isn't without its faults but in the end Leviathan is an enjoyable enough monster flick. I have always had a tendency to prefer water based monsters over monsters from space simply because I love the ocean. The ocean is something I'm able to explore and there are lots of real monsters out in the ocean. Space, on the other hand, remains just out of reach for me.

    It's not until about 45 minutes in do things really start moving. From there the pacing is good and things don't slow down until the end credits start rolling. As more of the crew become infected, the atmosphere turns to a sense of dread and hopelessness. There's a sense of claustrophobia as the monster begins closing in on them and hope of survival seems lost. This tension, coupled with enjoyable characters, help (a bit) make up for the lack of screen time the monster receives. When the monster finally appears, one can't help but to compare him to the xenomorph of the Alien movies or the creature from The Thing. Those are high standards to live up to. I have no doubt that Leviathan had the smallest budget of the group, and when you have effects experts like Stan Winston and Rob Bottin, well, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Where the effects are impressive are the 'underwater' scenes, nearly all of which take place outside of water. They changed the camera speed and add some other tricks to give the illusion of being under water. It's impressive and you can't help appreciate it a little more with so much CGI being used these days. It's interesting, and perhaps ironic, to point out that Stan Winston and his studio were responsible for the effects on Leviathan. Some of the same people worked on effects for Aliens and Leviathan. I would argue that Stan wasn't as directly involved with the effects on Leviathan as he was with Aliens, and the effects featurette on the blu seems to confirm that.

    inline Image On the acting front, you have a whole crew of familiar faces - a robotic cop, a ghost buster, Rambo's colonel, Max Headroom's partner, and even the voice in Fred Savage's head. There's not much depth to most of the characters but the cast do the best they can with the roles they are given. Daniel Stern plays the chauvinistic sleaze-ball to perfection and Peter Weller does an admirable job as the reluctant, try-hard leader. Director George Cosmatos has worked with some of the cast before and that seemingly landed some of them their roles here in Leviathan. Cosmatos directed Of Unknown Origin with Peter Weller and Rambo First Blood: Part II with Richard Crenna.

    You can't write about Levithan without talking about the other two underwater movies released that same year, James Cameron's The Abyss and Deep Star Six. The Abyss gets tossed out of the comparison in my mind. It's a big budget Cameron movie and I don't really put it in the horror genre like the other two. Leviathan and Deep Star Six on the other hand, are extremely similar movies. I would give Deep Star the nod on creature effects but Leviathan the nod on acting and creating more tension. Both are enjoyable enough that fans are likely to want to own both. As for which one I'll spin more often, I would likely choose Leviathan more often than not.

    Leviathan may not be the thrill fest of Aliens and The Thing but there's still some enjoyment here if your expectations are in check.

    Image Quality

    Scream Factory presents Leviathan in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It's an impressive transfer, boasting little grain and seemingly no print blemishes. There are a few spots with minor softness present, such as the "underwater" scenes, but generally the image remains razor sharp. Colors are vibrant with solid blacks and natural flesh tones. Considering the age of the movie and its low budget nature, this is an exceptional job by Scream Factory. A solid A- on the transfer.

    Sound

    There are two lossless tracks, a DTS-HD Master 2.0 and a DTS-HD Master 5.1. I listened to the 5.1 track and was impressed with it. There's good LFE and some great use of surrounds at times. Dialogue was consistently clear and no distortion was heard.

    Supplemental Material

    First up is a featurette titled Levithan - Monster Melting Pot that runs about 40 minutes. It contains interviews with members of the effects crew who were with Stan Winston Studios at the time. The feature focuses entirely on special effects and the many challenges they faced. I enjoyed it immensely - hearing them discuss the effects, the movie, and why the felt it succeeded in some areas and failed in others. A few Stan Winston and George Cosmatos (director) stories were shared as well.

    Next is a 12 minute featurette (HD) is titled Dissecting Cobb - With Hector Elizondo. As you might have guessed, it's a 12 minute interview with actor Hector Elizondo who plays the character of Cobb. He shares a few interesting tidbits of working on the set but nothing too exciting overall. The next featurette (HD) is 15 minutes in length and titled Surviving Leviathan - With Ernie Hudson. Like Hector, Ernie shares some stories from the production. It's enjoyable enough for fans to watch once. I would have liked to have seen some more interviews with the cast but I guess these two are the only ones Scream could get.

    Rounding out the supplements are high definition trailers for Leviathan, It Came Without Warning, Lake Placid, Saturn 3, and Swamp Thing.

    Final Thoughts

    There are worse monster movies than Leviathan, and there are better ones as well. The effects are a mixed bag and while there are some impressive actors in the mix, I couldn't help but feel the characters were a bit hollow. Shout/Scream did a great job on the transfer and sound, as well as including some enjoyable supplements for fans. If you haven't seen Leviathan, I would recommend a rental first. Otherwise, if you're a fan, this is a great disc to own.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - C+

    Image Quality - A-

    Sound - A-

    Supplements - B


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Rated R
    • 1 Disc
    • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
    • English subtitles
    Supplements
    • Levithan - Monster Melting Pot
    • Interviews with actors Hector Elizondo and Ernie Hudson
    • Theatrical trailers
     
  2. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

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    I only saw this one not too long ago and thought it was a much better movie than Deep Star Six in terms of characters. I loved the Thing-like effects but thought the monster ended up looking a little lame sadly. It looked and felt like the puppet it probably was and had me thinking they must have run out of money by that stage.
     
  3. Ptflea2

    Ptflea2 Well-Known Member

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    This director could assemble a cast! Remember "Tombstone?"
     
  4. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    I didn't mind this one. It's like a poor man's Alien/Abyss
     
  5. ImmortalSlasher

    ImmortalSlasher Active Member

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    I like this movie. I didn't know the underwater scenes weren't really underwater. The Blu-ray is on my pick up list. Nice to see a new review.
     

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