47 Meters Down (2017)

47 Meters Down posterReleased: June 23, 2017. Directed by: Johannes Roberts. Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine. Runtime: 1h 29 min.

Two sisters, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) go to Mexico for a vacation and after meeting a pair of locals, they’re told about going underwater in a cage where they can go face-to-face with 25-foot-great white sharks.

They do just that but when they’re in the water, the boat’s mechanism that holds the cage breaks and the sisters plummet 47 meters down to the ocean’s surface. There, their oxygen starts to run out and sharks circle nearby, and their fight for survival begins.

I watched this when it came out in theatres in June 2017 and I liked it. On second watch, it doesn’t hold up. The characters aren’t interesting. Lisa initially was going on this vacation with her boyfriend Stuart, but he broke up with her because she’s boring. Honestly, I can’t blame the guy.

That’s how Kate gets Lisa in the cage, telling her that she isn’t a boring person if she’s in a shark cage. When Lisa’s anxious the day of, Kate says she won’t make Stuart jealous if she waits in the bathroom.

Lisa’s anxious for good reason. The cage looks rusty and she has no scuba diving experience, so when Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine) tells her about her gear, it’s like a foreign language. Before they go down, he tells them, “once you’re down there, you’re not gonna want to come back up.” False, because Lisa wants to come up immediately.

Taylor’s talent is puns – as he named his boat the Sea Esta. Taylor’s mostly a voice presence through the film as Kate repeatedly swims higher to communicate with Taylor, since their cage is out of range for radio contact.

47 Meters Down review

Claire Holt and Mandy Moore in 47 Meters Down. (IMDb)

Kate is the brave character here as Lisa spends most of the time panicking and telling us how scared she is. I’d be the same way – but you wouldn’t find me in a shark cage. The sisterly chemistry is good and the two leads are charming as thinly written characters. It’s nice watching Lisa overcome her fears in some moments on her fight to be less boring.

Johannes Roberts writes (with Ernest Riera) and directs the film. He delivers strong tension and some thrilling sequences, especially while in the open water. He captures the fear of the characters well in simple scenes of tension like the mechanism that holds the cage breaking. His writing’s also smart and the film is best when the characters are forced outside of the cage. The third act is a lot of fun, too. The ending might frustrate some, but it’s consistent with the story.

Enough about the humans. The sharks usually look fine, but late in the film when we get better looks at the shark, the fact that this was initially meant to be straight-to-DVD explains the quality of the subpar visual effects.

But it just doesn’t serve the film well, as some visual effects shots are so brief it’s hard to tell what happens. The dark cinematography underwater doesn’t help that either, which is a shame because they spend a lot of time underwater. That’s a big thing with 47 Meters Down – it’s good for a straight-to-DVD film as it was produced (on a budget of $5.5 million), but mediocre as a theatrical release.

Score: 65/100

A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to RememberA Walk to Remember

Release Date: January 25, 2002

Director: Adam Shankman

Stars: Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote

Runtime: 101 min

Tagline: Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

In 1965, a romance novelist was born who would be known for his schmaltzy, predictable and usually mindless love stories that can sometimes express a certain charm and always make girls expect so much more from men. That man is Nicholas Sparks. In 1994, he wrote his debut novel, ‘The Notebook.’ Since then, he has became a household name. Especially in homes with teenage girls. Eight (including the upcoming 2013 film, Safe Haven) of his novels have been adapted into films, some of the best include The Notebook, Dear John and The Last Song. While most of the movies adapted from his works are incredibly lame, two stand out: The Notebook, and A Walk to Remember.

This film follows Landon Carter (Shane West), a high school senior who gets sentenced to do community service after he and a few buddies play a cruel initiation prank on a poor old sap who wants to be a part of their group. Landon soon lands his eyes on the beautiful daughter of the Reverend, Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore). While they soon fall in love, Landon must deal with his sudden plummet of popularity, and Jamie must deal with her over-bearing father and a secret she keeps from everyone.

No folks, she isn’t a man. That isn’t her secret. Her secret is fairly predictable, but it admittedly adds a surprising flair of emotion when it comes around the bend.

Like all other Sparks adaptations, this is still predictable and melodramatic, but it is one of the most bearable of his features. The two leads create a charming chemistry, and they make it bearable – and Moore is the pretty face that adds to its attraction. They are the best part of the feature, but the story is nothing new or anything you haven’t really seen before.

Landon must make a hard self-sacrifice of giving up his friends for the one he loves, and sacrifice his mega-popularity at the top of the high school food chain. And then, as expected, Jamie starts to change his heart for the better. Though, her secret makes her a little more reserved. These concepts are made new though, by the unexpected amount of heart and tenderness the film possesses.

All these redeeming qualities do not stop it from being predictable and melodramatic, however. These just merely make the experience bearable for anyone outside of its target audience. It’s fairly entertaining, and it’s a nice little mindless break from the real world. It also gives girls a fantasy world to live in for 101 minutes, and for that, it should be cherished by them. News flash: we men don’t have scripts written for us, not all of us know how to woo you with a fine ease. We’re not the figure you write about in all your diaries.

In a nutshell: A Walk to Remember is a fine feature for its target audience: teenage girls who want to believe most men are something they really aren’t; and for others, it’s only a little entertaining. It is made mostly bearable by Mandy Moore, but the story leaves something to be desired.

63/100