Written by: Patrick Howard | October 25th, 2023
Deep Rising (Matthieu Rytz, 2023) 2 out of 4 stars.
Who owns the sea? This is the interrogative statement voiced by Jason Momoa (Aquaman) while fantastical footage of undersea life fills the screen in Matthieu Rytz’s second environmentally conscious documentary (following the 2018 Anote’s Ark), Deep Rising. As countries around the world try to figure out viable solutions to the ever-growing energy crisis, we, the audience, are given fly-on-the-wall access to the profit-driven environment of extraction companies. One such firm, The Metals Company, holds a majority of Rytz’s attention as we witness it chase funding, public favor, and permission from the International Seabed Authority (I.S.A.) to mine metals across wide swaths of the Pacific Ocean floor.
Deep Rising is an intriguing into a relatively unseen “green energy” industry, its complex movers and shakers and their accompanying agendas. Rytz’s stance on deep-sea mining and the effects it can have on nearby marine life is never in question. The enchanting footage of sea creatures, all of whom come in spellbinding colors and shapes, and Jason Momoa’s low, gruff narration help illustrate the point the documentary wants to hammer home: marine life is a vital component of human life.
The film’s fighting spirit against organizations like The Metals Company clashes with its unbalanced and overindulgent nature. It is further hampered by Rytz’s decision to show viewers such an in-depth look into that business’s journey to gaining a legal blessing from the powers that be, like the I.S.A. Rytz offers the perspective of scientists who worry what this level of ocean-floor mining will do to marine life, but that perspective feels like an afterthought when compared to the rival point-of-view. The choice feels like one an industry company would make for an informational video at an investors meeting, so they don’t come across as too ignorant to the obvious problems of their endeavor.
The alternative solutions to the global-energy crisis are addressed before the end credits roll, but I would be lying if the mere mention of a solution that doesn’t involve the destruction of the Earth’s surface sparked hope in me.