47 Meters Down

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris Johnson
Directed by: Johannes Roberts (“The Other Side of the Door”)
Written by: Johannes Roberts (“The Other Side of the Door”) and Ernest Riera (“The Other Side of the Door”)

For a movie originally slated for a direct-to-VOD release, it’s amazing how much “47 Meters Down” accomplishes with so little. Then again, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. So many movies are finding audiences without ever being given a theatrical release. It’s clear that writer/director Johannes Roberts has a few tricks up his sleeve, and hopefully we’ll be able to see more of him now that his latest film has been graced with a wide release.

Mandy Moore and Claire Holt headline the film as sisters Lisa and Kate, who have traveled to Mexico for a fun summer vacation. Lisa is feeling a bit low in light of her breakup, but Kate continues to encourage her to do exciting things to make her ex jealous – like going into a tank and seeing sharks up close, for example.

That previous paragraph is the extent to which this film goes for characterization. Not only is there no journey of self-discovery here, but the movie doesn’t even seem interested in fleshing out any sort of arc for Lisa, who ultimately takes center stage here. Normally this kind of writing would be insulting, but Roberts and cowriter Ernest Riera are clearly more interested in the thrills, which more than make up for the film’s one-dimensionality.

Lisa and Kate’s shark tank journey goes incredibly wrong with the cable holding them up breaks and sends them plummeting down to the depths of the ocean. With limited air, light, and sharks lurking in the depths, Lisa and Kate must find a way to survive before their time runs out.

“47 Meters Down” has a definite sense of location, with Roberts moving his camera around fluidly to create a genuine sense of suspense. The majority of the film is set underwater, with characters talking to each other through headsets. It’s something that could have gone so wrong, but Roberts continuously gives him film jolts of energy, deftly mixing pulp and terror in a way that demands the audience’s investment.

“47 Meters Down” successfully depicts the unsettling creepiness that is endless ocean, creating a feeling not dissimilar to “Gravity.” Again, the comparisons end there, particularly when it comes to fleshing out the film’s characters. There is some slight satisfaction in seeing Lisa start to take control of her situation, but it’s more out of necessity than anything.

The film’s writing does make for a excruciatingly bland first act, but beyond that it’s hard to notice there really isn’t a character arc for anyone when we just want to see how Lisa and Kate avoid their latest problem. The 89-minute movie builds to a twist that you’ll probably be able to see coming, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Speaking of effective, the use of sharks in this movie is executed very successfully through a mix of practical and special effects.

Perhaps I was surprised by this movie because of how low my expectations were, but I found “47 Meters Down” a thrilling summer flick. Given that most of my expectations about anything in today’s world continue to be met or turn out to be too optimistic, it’s nice to be wrong sometimes.

Tangled

November 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Directed by: Byron Howard (“Bolt”) and Nathan Greno (debut)
Written by: Dan Fogelman (“Bolt”)
 
Disney knows a few things about princesses. Beginning with the unadorned appeal of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” over 70 years ago, the studio has since introduced audiences to a collection of distinctive stories featuring a diverse group of animated princesses all vying for the same thing: true love.
 
Sure, the image of a princess has evolved over the years to incorporate the more contemporary, independent woman (Princess Fiona from DreamWorks’ “Shrek” series can kick some serious butt), but at the core, the themes that connect films like “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and last year’s less enjoyable “The Princess and the Frog” haven’t changed much.
 
As Disney’s 50th animated film, “Tangled” fits in perfectly with Disney’s previous offerings. It’s a classic narrative combined with creative characters, beautiful computer-generated animation, and a gleeful soundtrack that matches some of the best Disney music since the early 90s. 
 
If “Tangled” really is the last of the fairytale-type movies Disney will make in the foreseeable future (a statement the company made last week), it’s definitely an impressive way to bid a fond farewell.

In “Tangled,” the reimagining of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “Rapunzel,” the original story is given a fresh take while still sustaining elements from animated films like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.” In the latest version, an infant Rapunzel is kidnapped from a king and queen by a witch named Gothel who locks her in a tower and raises her as her own child. Obsessed with staying young forever, Gothel takes the baby when she learns Rapunzel’s hair possesses healing powers and works like a fountain of youth.

Now, held captive in the tower (although Rapunzel believes Gothel is just an overprotective mother) with only her always-suspicious chameleon Pascal to keep her company, a teenage Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), whose extremely long golden hair keeps her mother young, dreams of one day leaving her tower and traveling to the kingdom to see a festival of lights that occurs every year on her birthday. Little does she know the lights released into the nighttime sky are for her and that the king and queen have always believed she would find her way home some day. Guiding her through the kingdom is an Aladdin-type thief named Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) who scales the tower to evade the king’s soldiers who are in pursuit.
 
Directed by Byron Howard and Nathan Greno working on a clever script by Dan Fogelman, “Tangled” might not get to the highest echelons Disney has ever reached, but there is a brilliant sense of nostalgia as well as a touch of modern-day sassiness that reminds us even without Pixar there for support the Mouse House can still produce plenty of happily-ever-after moments.