47 Meters Down: Movie Man Jackson

If you’ve got to do this to win back an ex, he/she simply isn’t worth it. Two sisters in Lisa and Kate (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico. Lisa has recently come off of a breakup, but still has feelings for her ex, Stewart, who broke things off because he found Lisa boring.

What better way to make Stewart jealous? By cage diving in a shark-infested ocean while taking pics of the expedition, of course! Despite Lisa’s reluctance and rightful unease, she agrees to do it. After a few calm and fun minutes, the cage breaks away from its rope, sending the sisters spiraling down to the ocean floor. Now, 47 Meters Down with limited radio contact, air supply, and numerous hidden sharks, Lisa and Kate must do whatever’s possible to stay alive and return to the surface.

After the success of The Shallows, it appears that we could possibly be entering a phase in which shark movies are coming back to the big screen during the summer months. Enter 47 Meters Down, a movie that was supposed to go straight-to-DVD last August from Dimension Films, yet was purchased and saved for wide release this summer by Entertainment Studios films due to the success of that Blake Lively vehicle. While there’s baseline genre thrills, 47 Meters Down takes only an average bite in delivering a harrowing tale.

47 Meters Down‘s main problems start with the script, penned by director Johannes Roberts. Particularly the first 10-15 minutes, which set up why the two females feel compelled to do what is ultimately their undoing. The reason, stated before in the first paragraph, is extremely shallow and stupid, considering that we as the audience never see the ex-boyfriend Lisa is referring to. He only exists in a response to a text sent from Lisa when she tells him how much fun Mexico is and how much better it would be if he were there. His paraphrased text? “That’s really cool…I’m moving out my stuff tonight.” He’s totally worth trying to win back.

The few efforts to flesh out the two lead roles do not work, be it via early movie cringey dialogue, or mid-movie “sister-talk.” Mandy Moore and Claire Holt do their best—they’re not insufferable and they’re good at screaming and hyperventilating (Moore, especially) —but with lazy writing, neither is charismatic or talented enough to overcome script deficiencies and make audience truly care for their characters here. Every other person in 47 Meters Down is disposable or inconsequential, aside from Matthew Modine who exists to deliver status updates and key information via radio.

47 Meters Down can’t completely be dismissed, however, because it mostly gets the things right in a shark movie that audiences come to see. While not quite up to the technical quality of better Great White features, Roberts directs most moments and shark attacks with skill, and the addition of rapidly declining oxygen tanks adds some tension. The sharks look very believable, and many different types of shots are used to convey the disorienting and dark depths of the ocean. Most shark movies don’t go as “deep” as 47 does, so that in itself is sort of unique. Although predictable when it is first brought up, there’s a cool final act “twist” that gives some life to the film. Unfortunately, 47 ends flat, with no aftermath follow-up of what comprised most of the runtime.

 

47 Meters Down is OK enough to not be deep-sixed into oblivion, getting by with staple shark movie thrills. But, it’s better to wait and watch this in the format Dimensions Films originally intended.

C

Photo credits go to variety.com, dailymail.co.uk, and movieclips.com.

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

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The Shallows: Movie Man Jackson

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Can’t blame someone—or something—for trying to get a piece of Blake Lively. Taking some time off from medical school, Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) goes on a getaway of sorts to clear her mind from a recent tragedy. Her destination is a nameless beach that her mother surfed on, and Nancy intends to do the same.

Catching a few good waves but wanting to catch one more great one before calling it a day, she stays out alone in an effort to do so. Immediately upon seeing the carcass of a large whale, Nancy crashes and is submerged underwater, and before she makes it back to the surface, a great white shark takes a bite out of her leg. Stranded on a rock 200 yards from shore, losing blood quick, and with no help to speak of, Nancy’s in a bad way, to put it mildly.

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There’s Jaws, and there’s everything else when concerning shark movies. Nothing can ever top Spielberg’s classic, which might be why, aside from Open Water, we’ve seen so many goofy shark movies that SyFy seems to love. If you can’t top it, make it so different in tone that no comparisons can be made. But, so many intentionally bad entries into that subgenre make those types of movies played out now. As such, they make a movie like The Shallows, so obviously inspired by Spielberg’s vision, somewhat of a revelation.

At 87 minutes, director Jaume Collet-Serra’s (Run All Night, Non-Stop) latest is straigtforward, compact, and no frills. Thrills, however? Those exist in bunches. All things considered, Serra gets right to it and hardly ever lets up once he does. The danger that Nancy faces not just in the water, but outside of it, is palpable. Not a first-person style film (but focusing on a single person, predominantly), nevertheless, The Shallows is extremely immersive, quite possibly the most immersive feature yours truly has seen all year in a theater. That absolutely adds to the unnerving-at-times experience in a way I’m not sure watching this on home media would.

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The keyword is lean, though. Which is fine, but it has to be acknowledged. There’s a family component that Serra injects, but it does little to register. It comes off as a little forced, perhaps because of the way many of these moments are displayed. Much of the film’s “backstory” comes via phone and videochat, and I actually found that to be a little distracting as opposed to emotionally endearing. The thrilling effect would be the same whether Nancy was doing this to honor someone, or doing it just to have a little vacation. Speaking of forced, the last few minutes feel so, as there’s a end song that won’t win any awards for subtlety.

Blake Lively’s work as Nancy Adams is pretty impressive. She seems to be coming into her own as a reliable presence in Hollywood, and her work here is worthy of praise. A much more physical performance than a wordy one, the audience is right there with Nancy as she tentatively steps into the water, loses blood, or is forced to stitch herself up. She’s in distress but not a damsel.

In a win when it comes to slasher movies, Nancy always has the audience support as opposed to wanting to see the monster win because the character(s) deserve their demises. This is undoubtedly her movie, no other human comes close to making an imprint, or rather, they aren’t allowed to. After Lively, the biggest contributors are a seagull affectionately named “Steven Seagull” that she plays off of, and of course, the great white who only shows himself when needed.

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It’s 2016, not 1975, which means that The Shallows will not have the impact that Jaws had in straying people away from the water. But that doesn’t mean that The Shallows is a viewing experience that falls short. No shame at all being the second best shark movie of all time.

B+

Photo credits go to Youtube.com, nydailynews.com, and moviepilot.com.

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