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George At 

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I so thought I was not going to like UNDERWATER, but like some crazy, relentless mashup of "Aliens", "The Abyss" and "Apocalypto" at least the first two thirds of this action flick had me smiling.

Like Mel Gibson's underrated 2006 director effort "Apocalypto", it starts almost immediately and NEVER lets up.

Story? Character background? Who has time!

Kristen Stewart is the bad-ass Ripley-light Norah, working in the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench on the largest drill platform ever made. Within moments after the titles, an earthquake like event hits the structure and it begins to implode, it's structural integrity buckling in a superb visual and sound effects show.

Norah pairs up with crew member Rodrigo (Mamoudo Athie), comic relief jokester Paul (TJ Miller in full "Deadpool" sidekick mode), team rookie Emily (Jessica Henwick), her flame Liam (John Gallagher Jr. from Broadway's "Spring Awakening" and season 3 of "Westworld") and their captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) to plot any possible escape.

Their route to rescue recalls the "Aliens" sequence of them trying to get to the uplink antenna with a splash of "Poseidon Adventure" disaster flick thrown in for good measure.

They soon realize that it wasn't an earthquake that toppled their drilling station, it was some giant Kraken like creature they've awakened from unknown depths.

Yes, that twist is more cheesy than it is awe inspiring and the final third of the film runs out of gas before a surprising ending that salvages the conclusion.

I didn't expect much going in, but was pleasantly surprised by the headrush of forward momentum that drives the first hour. When I'm having this much fun in a thriller, I can pretty much shut down my logical mind and just enjoy the moment.

The music score by Marco Beltrami (World War Z) and newcomer Brandon Roberts, who has apprenticed under Beltrami for years, gets your blood pumping with a driving mix of violins, synth and strings.

Stewart has really grown on me and she's in her element here, delivering a kick-ass heroine that would make Ripley proud. The "mother-like" intercom countdown as Norah runs around in her underwear to save her team will not be lost on any 'Alien" fans. Nor will its tribute to that infamous facehugger jump out of the egg. There is even a brief audio reference to the computer boot up sound at the start of 1979's 'Alien". The first two Alien films are among my favorites of all time and I really enjoyed this riff on them.

UNDERWATER is a surprisingly enjoyable sci-fi horror thriller with an $80 million budget and a 95 minute running time. At almost a million a minute, it delivers plenty of fast paced thrills, jolts and some old fashioned disaster flick/B-movie fun.

The fun really floats down here, earning it a very surprising B.

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