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MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Leviathan’: Fathomable Watered-Down ‘Alien’

“Leviathan” (citywide) is “Alien” under water. It’s not nearly as sophisticated or as terrifying as the Ridley Scott film, but it looks good and moves fast. It’s elementary fun with a couple of scary moments along the way.

Off the coast of Florida a crew of six men and two women are nearing the end of a 90-day stint 10,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Headquartered in Shack 7, a huge octagon of spun-molded steel, the crew dons cumbersome motorized suits to mine the ocean floor of precious metals for Trans-Oceanic, a multinational corporation represented via a TV monitor by an icy executive (Meg Foster), whose interest in profits rather than the welfare of her undersea employees is not exactly disguised.

Headed by a geologist (Peter Weller), the crew is already experiencing understandable cabin fever when it discovers the hulk of a huge Soviet ship. Sixpack (Daniel Stern), the least serious, most stir-crazy member of the crew, hides a flask of vodka he finds on the vessel, and shares it later with one of the women (Lisa Eilbacher). Naturally, or unnaturally, as it turns out, a couple of slugs of the stuff produces the most horrifying results.

Written by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart from a story by Peoples, “Leviathan” (rated R for language, standard horror movie violence) is the old monster-of-the-deep movie slicked up to play as a cautionary tale about the perils of genetic engineering. Creature effects specialist Stan Winston and his studio have come up with the usual gelatinous monsters that mutate before our very eyes.

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Playing against his “RoboCop” image, Weller comes on as the most hesitant and reluctant of leaders who, of course, matures in crisis. Only Richard Crenna, as the crew’s doctor, a scientist with a tragic incident in his past, has a role with any dimension to it. Other crew members are played capably by Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine and Hector Elizondo. Along with Crenna, resourceful cameraman Alex Thomson and production designer Ron Cobb, whose technically intricate settings are at once striking and convincingly functional, the film’s strongest asset is the crisp, punchy direction of George P. Cosmatos, best known for his two Stallone blockbusters, “Rambo” and “Cobra,” but more fondly remembered for the sly 1982 horror allegory “Of Unknown Origin,” which also starred Weller.

‘LEVIATHAN’

An MGM/UA release of an MGM-Luigi and Aurelio De Laurentiis presentation of a Gordon Co. production. Executive producers Lawrence Gordon, Charles Gordon. Producers Luigi and Aurelio De Laurentiis. Director George P. Cosmatos. Screenplay David Peoples, Charles Gordon; from a story by Peoples. Camera Alex Thomson. Music Jerry Goldsmith. Production designer Ron Cobb. Creature Effects producer Stan Winston. Costumes April Ferry. Stunt coordinators Randell Widner, Rocco Lerro. Film editors Roberto Silvi, John F. Burnett. With Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo, Meg Foster.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

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MPAA-rated: R (younger than 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).


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