This is a creature feature, whose gory jump-scares and icktastic critter design are the reason you're here. An ensemble led by Kristen Stewart brings credible camaraderie to the scenario without quite matching the vivid chemistry of Alien and its best descendants; with such a tightly packed survival tale ahead of them, though, few viewers will be calling out for more character development.
An acceptable creature feature at best and a waterlogged “Alien” at worst, Underwater sneaks into town as a true January release: a shelf-sitting production that 20th Century Fox’s new owner, Disney, is putting outside the store like a loaf of stale bread. It’s there if you want it, and you could chew on worse.
The term "Aliens clone" or "rip-off" gets thrown around so much it's kind of lost all meaning. Yet, I don't think it would be a hyperbole to say that Underwater bears more than a passing resemblance to the legendary sci-fi franchise. It's more Ridley Scott than James Cameron though, with the deep sea drill the characters inhabit calling to mind the Nostromo over Hadley's Hope.
The set design is actually the movie's greatest strength. You can tell a lot of work and care went into the little details, be they scattered mementos or a personal touch that a diver added to their scuba gear, to make the environments feel lived-in and therefore believable. You can see the evidence of the life that once filled the facility before things went wrong which leads to a very haunting, solemn atmosphere and an ever-present feeling of loss that weighs on the survivors.
It all ends up being somewhat squandered though as the film falls prey to the modern day cinema trapping of trying to make everything funny. I realize a little bit of humor can go a long way in a serious tale, but here we have a full-fledged comedian in T.J. Miller who is always ready with a sarcastic remark or amusing comment no matter what's going on, which constantly takes away from the gravity of the situation and severely limits the fear factor. Even as someone with thalassophobia, megalohydrothalassophobia, ichthyophobia, and countless other oceanic phobias there was never a moment that sent so much as a shiver up my spine, which is a letdown because on paper this should have been a pure nightmare for me.
The biggest disappointment however is the handling, or mishandling rather, of the Lovecraftian elements. Stripped of any traces of cosmic horror, Cthulhu and The Deep Ones have been turned into generic feeling, albeit cool looking movie monsters, which has to be some kind of sin. I searched for any sign that something deeper was going on with these creatures to no avail. A shame because that really could have added something special to the story.
All that aside, you can tell everyone involved really poured their hearts and souls into making this because they truly believed in the vision for the film, flawed though it may be. So while it's never as satisfying as it could have been, it is still a solid, charming creature feature with incredible visuals (the diving suits are dope) that I wouldn't mind watching again if someone were to put it on or I needed some background noise.
I am confused by the people saying this was "horrible", "the worst movie ever made", "an atrocity". Really? Have you guys watched many movies? There are so many cringeworthy, terribly made movies in the action/horror genre. This one was actually pretty good compared to the majority of others like it. I enjoyed it. I was entertained. I was not expecting, nor needing, it to be some deep masterpiece, and thought it was a decent entry into the action/horror mix. So, why so much hate for this movie? Because you hate Twilight and anybody who got their start from it? Because you hate Kristen Stewart? Because you don't like when action movies have a female lead? For real, there are many terribly made movies out there that deserve this level of vitriol for how painfully bad they are, but this movie isn't one of them. It was just an okay, entertaining, quick action/horror flick, not "an atrocity".
The movie's attempt to be a slow burn fizzles out 1/3 of the way through and the lengthy runtime turns it into a painful drag before it hits a predictable and unsatisfying ending. Parts of Underwater does work, especially Stewart's performance, but for the most part, It's just a boring mess that never keeps the attention of the viewer.