47 Meters Down (2017) Review
NOT DEEP ENOUGH
Sharks. There’s something about them that both terrifies and fascinates a person’s mind about this carnivorous sea creatures. From their outward appearance and portrayal in both real life and in pop culture refences, these cold-blooded creatures have existed since the pre-historic era and have diversified into over 500 species, including some common types of sharks such as Great White Sharks, Whale Sharks, and Hammerhead Sharks. In the realm of Hollywood, several features films have been dedicated its main narrative to being on and / or about sharks, including the most iconic one of all Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws. Others noteworthy films include Deep Blue Sea, The Reef, Open Water, and The Shallows. Now, curtailing to the allure of these sea-dwelling predators, Entertainment Studios and director Johannes Roberts present the survival film 47 Meters Down. Does this movie captivate its viewers with its tale or is its mindless dribble?
Traveling to Mexico for a much-needed vacation, sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are ready let their hair down and to party by partaking in the land’s nightlife festivities and the attention from the local men. For Lisa, however, this vacation is bittersweet, having just recently broken-up with her longtime boyfriend. Feeling the woes of her break-up, Lisa is snapped back to the present by Kate, who desires to challenge her fears by taking part in a shark dive, led by Captain Taylor (Mathew Modine), who runs a sketchy boat in the middle of paradise. Fitted with the proper scuba gear and a quick tutorial on how to use it, Lisa and Kate enter a rusty metal cage and are lowered into an ocean that’s loaded with sharks that are scrambling for freshly dumped chum. Expected thrills and excited breathlessness of their experience, the women are suddenly sent into a panic when their cage breaks off from the boat, sending the sisters 47 meters down into the ocean’s dark depths. With only a limited amount of air to keep them alive, Lisa and Kate must overcome their own panic and fears and find a way back to the surface, facing hungry sharks who begin to encircle around them in waiting for a delicious meal.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit scared of Sharks. After seeing Jaws at a young age, I was scared to go into the ocean or on a small boat, in fear of being attacked a huge and hungry shark. There’s just something about them that brings a sense of fear to me or perhaps there dead looking eyes (i.e. like on a Hammerhead Shark). As I stated above, shark-based movies have existed and, while I’ve the ones that I listed above, I always get the same inane twitch of fear of seeing a shark and when it attacks its prey. As for 47 Meters Down, I actually didn’t know about it until a few weeks ago when I saw the trailer for it in theaters. I had a feeling that this movie was going to be like last year’s The Shallows, so I decided to take a chance with this movie and went to go see it on a Saturday afternoon. What did I think of it? Well, let’s just say that The Shallows is a better movie…. much, much better movie. Basically, 47 Meters Down is a mediocre (borderline serviceable) survival feature, which is unremarkable and almost entirely forgetful endeavor.
47 Meters Down is directed by Johannes Roberts, whose previous directing work includes The Other Side of the Door, Storage 24, and F. While this movie isn’t exactly original or even noteworthy, Roberts does succeed on the technical filmmaking side of things. The dark and ominous ocean depths, where majority of the film takes place, is portrayed as a lifeless and unforgiving realm, projecting a scary and eerie feeling for the two main characters. Also, the low-level light for these underwater scenes helps build tension at certain points, which are usually accompanied by a sudden jump scary tactic (which the movie does have a few). In addition, Roberts uses a lot of close-ups, which gives a feeling of claustrophobia and panic as we see the fearful dread on Lisa and Kate’s faces throughout the entire ordeal. Lastly, with only a runtime of 89 minutes long, the movie does moves at pretty brisk pace and never gets sidetracks with sub-plots or anything like that, focusing the main narrative of Lisa and Kate and they underwater predicament.
Unfortunately, despite the film’s fleeting moments of several genuine scares and some other elements, 47 Meters Down comes off as both mindless and cheesy. Perhaps the biggest culprit of the movie is it’s extremely poor storytelling. The film’s script, which is credited to Roberts as well as Ernest Riera, is ultimately stripped to the bare minimum as most (if not all) the characters’ motivations and persona feels both clunky and manufactured rather than robust and organic. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue itself is pretty cheesy to the point where (sometimes) it’s almost laughable. In truth, the entire plot feels incredibly flimsy, especially the film’s first act, which very quickly tries to setup the weak storylines of Lisa and Kate in a sloppy way, forsaking interest and character development to get to the main plight of the movie. This means, beyond a few scare jump tactics, there’s little build-up and hardly a reason to care for the characters in the film as the movie moves towards its conclusion. Speaking of conclusion, Roberts does try to throw a curve ball into the film’s narrative (in the form of a twist), but it’s a bit unsatisfying twist that doesn’t really payoff.
It also doesn’t help the fact the movie feels like a “B-movie” DTV (Direct-to-Video) release. In fact, after doing some research after seeing the movie, it actually was supposed to be. Dimension films, the original distributor for the movie, initially set a release for August 2nd, 2016 on DVD and VOD. However, Dimension sold the rights to the film to Entertainment Studios, who, believing the film to be a strong enough to warrant a chance on the big screen, scrapped the DTV release and set a date for June 16th, 2017; shelving the feature for almost a year. Unfortunately, re-skinning the feature doesn’t help and there is a definitely feeling that 47 Meters Down is a bad B-rated film. In addition, those expecting to see plenty of Sharks in the movie will be disappointed as Roberts uses the presences of Sharks sparingly, which I might add are CGI rendered Sharks (and look like them as well).
Personally, the movie definitely feels like one of those DTV movies. You know what I’m talking about…the ones that you sometimes see on DVD / Blu-Ray before it heads to disc’s menu screen. Thus, 47 Meters Down, while may attempting to be like 2013’s Gravity (underwater instead of space), ultimately ends up being like one of those forgetful DTV films (i.e. Death Race 3: Inferno, Dragonheart: Battle of Heartfire, and The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power). Heck, even the super cheesy Sharknado movies are even slightly better, for at least those films (stupid as they are) are self-aware of how bad they are, while 47 Meters Down feels lost within ocean depths of its stripped narrative.
Given the limited budget for the movie, 47 Meters Down has a small cast that are most unknown actors and actresses. Normally, this would be fine (nothing wrong with selecting unknowns), but more than half of the characters in the movie are virtually non-existent and barely register as characters at all. Of course, the film’s two main protagonist (Lisa and Kate) get the most screen-time and who are played by actresses Mandy Moore and Claire Holt. Of the two, Moore, known for her roles in A Walk to Remember, Chasing Liberty, and Tangled, is more recognizable one (perhaps the most recognizable and biggest star of the entire movie), while Holt, known for her roles in several TV shows including Aquarius, The Originals, and Vampire Diaries) is the second most recognizable face of the feature. Both are fine in their respective characters role, but, due to the movie’s restrictions and poor script, they have little creative material to play around with, which ultimately makes their characters boring and uninteresting, despite the pair being in a life and death struggle of survival. To be honest, most of their screen-time involves the pair explaining their situation and saying what they are going to do, which gets tiresome after a while.
Beyond them, as stated above, the rest of the supporting cast is non-existent and are mostly delegated to serve the film’s narrative, whether that be exposition scenes or moving the plot forward (mostly only in the first 10 minutes of the movie). This includes actors Santiago Segura and Yani Gellman as the pair of locals (Benjamin and Louis) that take a shine to Lisa and Kate and persuade them to go on shark submersion experience, while Mathew Modine (Foley from The Dark Knight Rises) plays Captain Taylor. As I said, these characters are extremely bland and only are there to help move things forwards, lacking any character well-roundness or development.
Lisa and Kate fight to survive and make their way back to the surface in the movie 47 Meters Down. Director Johannes Roberts survival drama does achieve a sense of dread and panic within its technical aspects, creating an eerie and perilous underwater world as well as keeping the feature moving a brisk pace. Unfortunately, the movie can never escape its B-movie / DTV feeling as the feature is bland and unoriginal, the script is poor and cheesy, and the characters are uninteresting and underdeveloped. Personally, I thought this movie was bad. It has some interesting parts that I liked, but, as a whole, the film only exists for cheap scare thrills and nothing more. Thus, as to be expected, my recommendations for this movie is definitely a hard skip as there’s really no reason to see this movie (even if you’re into sharks or survival style features). Ultimately, 47 Meters Down is a representation of how a DTV film should not make the jump to the big screen, especially when the film itself is just as shallow and poorly developed as its characters. All in all, 47 Meters Down isn’t that deep enough to care about.
2.2 Out of 5 (Skip It)
Released On: June 16th, 2017
Reviewed On: June 18th, 2017
47 Meters Down is 89 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language