GIRLS VS SHARK, AGAIN
Film Review by Fiore
Twice now, Hollywood has attempted to combine JAWS with the persona of Ripley from ALIEN. Both times, it has proven disastrous. First was THE SHALLOWS with Blake Lively. It provided three moments of quasi-intense action, but otherwise was forgettable.
The latest incarnation of this theme is 47METERS DOWN, a movie that is so mild, mellow and family oriented as to make a perfect movie of the week on the Disney Channel.
There was an absolute furor when the original JAWS was released. Mothers, mostly adult mall-rats screamed bloody murder about the graphic violence and the intense nature of the film. They postulated it would permanently scar their precious cubs. The complaints led to the implementation of the PG-13 rating. There are no such worries with 47METERS DOWN.
While the film does have sharks, they are seen largely as they would be on a National Geographic special. When they attack, the viewer is treated to flashing blurs, with no graphic chomping or death invoking scenes.
This must be quite chagrining to Outpost VFX, the company hired to create the 20 foot Great Whites. “Above all we wanted the sharks to look realistic so the details were very important,” said Director and Writer Johannes Roberts. “We wanted the skin to be scarred, and we also show that Great Whites close their eyes just before they attack, which is something you usually don’t see in shark movies.” While all that is fine, the sharks in 47METERS DOWN are basically cameo stars. The story centers around two sisters, and their need for love. So, while the sharks may close their eyes, the attack scenes, as assembled by Editor Martin Brinker, are so tame they evoked applause from the preview audience, who were just thrilled something was finally happening.
Lisa and Kate are two very different sisters. Kate is the socialite, travelling, playing vamp to boys and seemingly enjoying life to the fullest. Lisa, meanwhile, is more the homebody, someone who cherishes a more sedate, suburban lifestyle. When her boyfriend leaves her because she is boring, Lisa follows Kate to Mexico in an effort to experience Kate’s lifestyle and forget about her broken relationship.
Lisa is played by Mandy Moore, the singer turned actress, who has accumulated trophies for her talents in all venues, though it is safe to say 47METERS DOWN will not add to that collection. Kate is played by Claire Holt, who still reminds me of the scrawny little girl from years ago.
The sisters hook up with a couple of local Mexican gigolos, played by Yani Gellman and Santiago Segur, who coerce them to partake of a shark swimming experience under the auspices of Captain Taylor, played by Matthew Modine. Even though the film carries a severe warning about non- sanctioned Mexican adventures, apparently many Mexicans are an unscrupulous crew, the girls ignore all warnings and go shark swimming. From the film’s publicity, you already know the shark cage cable snaps, and the girls are sent 47METERS DOWN.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. Light the flair
Let’s take a look at the report card for 47METERS DOWN:
1.2 ACTING = D
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = C
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = C
1.5 EDITING = D
1.6 LIGHTING = C
1.7 SCRIPT = F
1.8 SFX = C
1.9 ACTION = D
The first part of 47METERS DOWN is a sisterly-love tale. The second is a survival tale, in the form of Richard Harris’ MAN IN THE WILDERNESS, without the intensity. The sharks play a secondary role to air tanks that happen to lose oxygen faster than the ionosphere. Roberts is an avid world diver, so logically, his attention is drawn to the techniques and dangers of diving, moreso than the dangers of the sharks. Ironically, this also ushers in many of the script’s inconsistencies. For example: Lisa, who has never dived in her life, suddenly knows how to switch air tanks underwater and adjust tank air flow. Not bad for no training.
47 METERS DOWN also marks the first use of Pinewood Studio’s brand new underwater tank. It’s a 65,000 square foot water studio, located in the Dominican Republic. Roberts utilized Lantica Media dive team for most of the shots, and cinematographer Mark Silk had no problems with underwater shooting in the new structure. It makes me wonder if the whole purpose behind this movie was just to test out the tank.
There is truly no justification for spending the price of a ticket, let alone two, on what is essentially a weak made for TV movie. It’s target audience is obviously dating pre-teens. There is nothing here to cause parents concern, except of course not to seek out Mexican gigolos every time your heart is broken.