A Brief History
On August 29, 2019, we went to see the second film in the 47 Meters Down movie franchise, this time titled 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. This new film, which debuted across the country August 16, 2019, is not a sequel to the first film, and only has in common the idea of people underwater with dangerous sharks. And pulse pounding terror. As great fans of horror and terror movies, and the fact that we previously had seen and enjoyed the first film, we were pretty eager to see this latest installment in underwater terror. We were not disappointed.
Of course, like any other film Uncaged is not without faults, but overall it is pretty entertaining. Only an hour and a half long, it moves along quickly enough to never let you get bored. Excellent special effects and spectacular underwater sets and sequences make for a highly visual experience. You can often feel the terror anyone in the scuba gear in close proximity to ravenous Great White Sharks would feel. And there are even a couple funny parts, but not so much that it distracts. There is even an homage to Deep Blue Sea thrown in, but we do not want to spoil the moment for you by telling you what it is.
As the title implies, this latest film has no shark cages. The action takes place mostly in an underwater system of caves or tunnels and chambers that were once Mayan above ground ruins that somehow became under the sea. Daring young (high school preppies) girls decide to take an unsanctioned tour of the archaeological under water site, and find themselves terrorized by Great White Sharks that have evolved to be adapted to a cave life with no light. Okay, here is where the film kind of distracted me with some really implausible stuff. What would those enormous sharks eat to stay alive? The only other fish we see in the underwater caverns is a blind cave fish that for no apparent reason is able to make some sort of startling screaming sound! This aspect of the movie plot is kind of dumb. If the sharks were normal Great Whites that had access to the tunnels from the sea and wandered in looking for food, I would have been much more receptive to accepting the idea of what was happening.
In spite of the glaring plot hole described above, the underwater scenes were spectacular. The sharks were uber-realistic looking, with none of the obvious CGI we expected. Kudos to whomever is responsible for making those beasts look so real and so frightening. Which, unfortunately, brings up more criticism. Remember, we enjoyed the film! Really. But the fact that the yelling and panting and furious activity while using scuba gear would in real life use up the available air in the tank within minutes was totally ignored. At least a nod to real scuba use would have been nice. Along those same lines, being underwater, even an unspecified depth, but almost assuredly at least 40 or 50 feet down (47 meters?) means the ascent would absolutely require some decompression time or the dreaded Bends would certainly horribly affect a diver during a rapid ascent to the surface. This factor is ignored. Hey, we are just sayin’…
While we keep reminding you, we did honestly enjoy the movie, we also have to point out other distractions that kept us from enjoying it even more. The movie is rated PG-13. This means the shark attacks, even fatal ones, do not have the gore one would expect. Graphic footage would go a long way toward reinforcing the terror in the film. Another nit picking item we agreed was a little off was the lack of massive injury to the body of a person (we are purposely avoiding details here) in the mouth of a giant Great White Shark. One does not become lodged inside the mouth of such a shark without suffering massive injuries.
Did we mention the sharks look quite real and quite scary? That and the claustrophobic atmosphere of being trapped underwater in a cave/tunnel system is terror inducing, exactly what we came for. Later, scenes concerning a glass bottom shark observing boat are also spectacularly filmed in vivid color and extremely well executed. The characters, which include the daughters of Sylvester Stallone and Jamie Foxx (Sistine Stallone and Corrine Foxx) along with Canadian Sophie Nélisse and Brianne Ashleigh Tju, are played convincingly and are well directed by Johannes Roberts, the same man that directed the original 47 Meters Down film (2017). Unfortunately, the girls are not all that likable! Despite being young and good looking, they are cut from the mean girl cloth, except Nélisse as Mia, who is an outcast and the target of bullies. Which brings up another nit picking item from us…
The movie is a little slow to get to the real action due to character development that we thought was not essential to the movie. Establishing the relationships between the girls and their private school social drama was not needed at all for the plot of the movie. All that was fine, except it had nothing to do with the drama/terror that is the reason people go to this film. Cut most of that stuff and get to the good stuff!
The critic amalgamation site, Rotten Tomatoes, gives the film a disappointing 47% rating from its client critics, although audiences are a bit more receptive (they often are) with a reported 69% approval rating. While not fabulous, the audience approval is good enough to make the movie successful and easily make back its $12 million budget. The box office has already reached about $19 million, so investors should have something to show for their money.
With the gore kept to a PG-13 level, we believe most teens and tweens could handle the movie easily, though those kids with a shark or water phobia might be best kept at home. The movie is entertaining and visually appealing, the sharks are realistic looking and scary, and we believe you will like the film just fine. While not a classic movie such as Jaws (1975), 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is not a joke movie such as Sharknado or Sharktopus. If you enjoy films such as Deep Blue Sea, 47 Meters Down, Bait, Open Water, The Reef, and The Shallows, you will probably enjoy this movie as well. We did.
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For more information, please see…
Benchley, Peter. Shark Trouble: True Stories and Lessons About the Sea. Ballantine Books, 2002.
Fallows, Chris. Great White: The Majesty of Sharks. Chronicle Books, 2009.
Satanism, Mr. Shark Weak: The Worst Shark Movies Ever Made. Inept Concepts, 2014.
The featured image in this article, a scaled-down, low-resolution image of a poster by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures for 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, is used in an article that provides critical commentary on the film in question or of the poster itself per fair use under the copyright law of the United States.