When it comes to shark movies, it is very difficult to make waves in the pop culture lexicon. Do you get it? Make waves? Anyway, with how legendary that other shark movie is, most shark thrillers struggle to make a name for themselves beyond just, “well it was good, but it was nowhere near as good as Jaws was.” So for the sake of this review, let’s just pretend that Jaws was never made. Sound good?
47 Meters is good, but it’s nowhere near as good as Deep Blue Sea. I’m just kidding around, realistically this is actually a very fun and inventive shark thriller. The trick on this one is it all takes place at the bottom of the ocean. Claire Holt and Mandy Moore play sisters who, while on vacation in Mexico, get trapped in shark-infested waters when their diving cage accidentally plummets to the ocean floor. This helps create a surprisingly fresh and imaginative thrill ride that feels every bit as exciting as you would want it to be. The first fifteen minutes or so takes place out of the water and predictably isn’t nearly as entertaining, but you kind of come to these sorts of films expecting such a thing. You came for the sharks, not for the scene with Mandy Moore crying in a hotel room. Once they get into the cage, the film is really well paced. It’s actually very impressive how well the director keeps the tension building rather than cutting back to the same tricks over and over again.
The acting in this film isn’t…great. Holt and Moore grow on you after a while, but for the first half they seem a little too whiny. But, then again, they are trapped in a shark cage with limited air supply and 20-foot great whites around them, so yeah I suppose they’re entitled to be a little whiny. I guess what I mean to say is it can be somewhat grating without much variation in their performances. At some point in the film they start making more active decisions rather than panicking which is when we begin to really start cheering them on. Matthew Modine is also in this film as the captain of the illfated boat they go diving on. He chewed the scenery quite a bit at the beginning when the director advised him to be creepier than is entirely necessary. He became more serious when the action began, but man was he unnecessary at the start.
This film was pretty low budget, so the shark CGI wasn’t great, but it was enough to be believable. What was really impressive was the environmental CGI that surrounded them. Even though this movie was probably filmed with a combination of Dry-For-Wet techniques and scuba diving in a studio tank, you never denied the fact that they were actually in the water. The cinematography was off and on. At times it was very tense and well shot, and others it was far too close and jittery for my taste. I understand why they made these choices, as they needed to disguise the fact that their sharks weren’t up to snuff with bigger budget creature features, but it could have been handled in a more professional light. The dialogue was pretty substandard as well, but once again, you don’t come to 47 Meters Down to learn about Mandy Moore’s crumbling relationship with her boyfriend, you come for the sharks. And the sharks are not disappointing.
At the end of the day, this is just as entertaining of a movie as you’d want it to be. It doesn’t go beyond your expectations, but it doesn’t fail to meet them either. If you’re looking for a reasonably fun time at the movies with some well-executed sequences, you shall not be disappointed. I’d say it’s a whale of a time. No? Sorry, I’ll just end it here.
(Only the thumbnail and the first image are from 47 Meters Down, by Entertainment Studios)