Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review - The Big Blue (1988 - Dir. Luc Besson)

The season climax, and again I harboured high hopes for Besson's deep sea diving master class. There’s plenty of sweeping, beautifully shot European landscapes, arty diving scenes and dolphins; what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, I purchased the Director’s Cut and although I doubt the edited highlights would be any better, at least they would be over quicker. Clocking in at almost three hours for the full film, I’m sure you could condense the enjoyable bits into about three minutes.

Let’s start with the positives; the opening childhood scenes, shot in black and white, are intriguing and to a certain extent, mouth-watering. I remember thinking that the film could not be all bad with such a beautiful start. However I was wrong. To complete the positives we soar with the camera across lush landscapes, we descend under the ice for some extreme low temperature diving action and there’s quite a few dolphins to add to the cutesy factor.

Now let’s get down to business. I rarely need to post a spoiler warning as I seldom mention the film, let alone what goes on in these reviews. However I’m going to make an exception for this especially tortuous case and tell you exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. There’s a five minute beginning, there’s a five minute ending and sandwiched between these is over two and a half hours of pure purgatory that plays out as follows; if you don’t want to know the result look away now.

Unlike Leon where the lead characters are the only non-cartoon stereotypes, The Big Blue takes the opposite approach and makes the three main characters into cartoon stereotypes as well. There’s the strong silent type (Jean-Marc Barr), the competitive extrovert (Jean Reno, [see Leon]) and the gorky, bimbo (Rosanna Arquette). Basically the two boys dive against each other, one dives deeper than the other, they reflect on this with each other and Arquette in sulky/smug fashion, depending on the winner. They then repeat this process over and over and over and over again! For hours!
Rosanna Arquette deserves a special mention. I’d only ever seen her in the Madonna ‘Into the Groove’ video before this and I can’t quite believe how gormless she looks and acts. I thought Portman was annoying, but good grief, Arquette takes it to a whole new level.

To make matters worse, if that’s possible, the whole thing is accompanied by the most irritating eighties soundtrack ever recorded; it’s cheesy, amateurish and cringe-worthy, even by eighties standards.

To sum up the Besson season; it’s been hard work. For a director I thought I’d like, his self styled ‘visionary’ films are, not to put too fine a point on it, terrible. They combine stereotypical characters with poor plotting that no amount of aerial landscape shots can pull back from the brink. On the plus side, I really enjoyed Angel-A, so save yourself a lot of time and money and watch that instead. Luc Besson, we salute you.


(The final average rating for the season = 2)

If you like this you could also try:
Atlantis, Flipper.


  1. Thanks for the comment on my blog. You may notice it's missing, as I switched commenting systems and it got deleted! Oops!

    Anyway, thanks again and I appreciate you coming and reading my posts. I'm enjoy your site as well. :)

    1. I thought I'd done something wrong, so I've commented again. And thanks for your comment :)