Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Dive to Remember

47 Meters Down
Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine
Released: June 16, 2017

Let's play a quick game of Would You Rather? Would you rather be Blake Lively in The Shallows or would you rather be Mandy Moore in this movie? Obviously, any rational human being would choose to be neither as both young women are attacked by huge great white sharks, but that's not a choice! You have to choose one or the others, that's how the game works! I would, one hundred percent, rather be in Blake Lively's scenario. True, she has a nasty fight with a huge shark, but at least she is above water at all times. If memory serves right, she gets attacked by a shark while surfing, then swims to an island and has to make it back to the shore while going from a big rock to a buoy in the process. True, she is by herself while at least Mandy Moore is with her sister, but they have the added disadvantage of worrying about running out of air. I feel like most people would rather be in the Blake Lively situation from The Shallows for that reason, but if you disagree with me, let me know!

The movie begins with older sister Lisa (Mandy Moore) and younger sister Kate (Claire Holt) on vacation in Mexico. Lisa was supposed to go with her boyfriend, but she later reveals to her sister that he left her because she was too boring. Nice guy. They meet two local guys who tell them about a boat that will take them out and they can get into cages to watch sharks. Seriously, who the f**k would want to do that? Lisa isn't too crazy about the idea, but Kate tells her it will prove to her ex that she isn't boring and it will show him. Are they thinking this will make him come running back to Mandy Moore? Why does she want to get back with this loser jerk, anyway? But Lisa agrees and they head out to their adventure the next day. I thought for sure the two guys they meet were going to die, and, well, I'll get to that when I get to my spoiler section. The boat captain is played by Matthew Modine and he assures the girls (especially Lisa) that everything is safe and uh-huh, sure, right. While Kate has been scuba diving before and knows a lot about it, this is Lisa's first time, but they lie and say she's experienced so she can go. However, when the captain is explaining to them some very basic things, shouldn't he be suspicious that Lisa doesn't seem to know what he's talking about? I guess he just thinks she's nervous because of the sharks. When they get situated in their scuba gear, he tells them they should begin with 200 bar and once they reach 100 bar, they need to let him know and at 50 bar he will pull them up. Now as someone who's never scuba dived in her life and doesn't plan on ever scuba diving (I know for a fact I would drown if I ever went scuba diving because I would just freak out and use up all my air, so no scuba diving for me!), this means absolutely nothing to me. All I know is the lower the number is, the less time for air you have. He tells them they'll be going down five meters (which is 16 feet) and I'm thinking, Wait a minute...this movie is called 47 Meters Down...something is gonna happen here! He also tells them, "Once you're down there, you're not going to want to come back up." Uh-huh, sure! 

The two guys have already gotten in one cage already and I don't know if this is a spoiler or not, but we really don't see or hear from them for quite a while. I had just assumed, when they told the two sisters about the shark cages, the four of them would be in one together, but nope, the two guys are in one cage and the two girls are in another one. I guess the only point of having them there is that they are the ones who tell the sisters about this adventure. 

Lisa and Kate are lowered into the water and once they get settled in, they feel fine and are excited by how much they can see around them. Kate asks her sister how deep does she think the ocean floor is, and, if only, they knew they would soon find out the answer in a matter of minutes. An answer they probably didn't want to know that bad! Kate has borrowed a water camera from someone who works on the boat and, in like, ten seconds, she drops it. Nice going. I guess Lisa's scummy ex will never see the proof of what she did! From the bottom of the cage, we see a shark swoop up and swallow the camera. It's at the moment I think I would want to get the hell out of there. The bars of the cage aren't wide enough for the shark to get through, obviously, but they do seem wide enough they could get their jaw through...and I would be freaked out a shark could come up from the bottom and grab my foot or leg. In fact, in a later scene, a shark does get its nose pretty far into the cage and almost snaps it open! The cage, which looks pretty rusty and old, and is hanging by a thin rope attached to a cable, drops a few feet and freaks out the girls, especially Lisa. She has voiced her concern about the safety of this, but her sister and the captain reassure her it's perfectly safe. Sure, right. Lisa wants to come up, but Kate doesn't. I'm on Mandy Moore's side here. I would want to come up right away too if the cable started to drop the cage. They do start to bring up the cage, but alas, the cable snaps and the cage plummets to the bottom of the ocean floor and it is no longer attached to the boat. Not good. Not good at all. That would be my worst nightmare. The girls scream for help, but their transmitters are cracking and they can only hear about every third word the boat captain is telling them so they know they are out or range. Their depth gauge tells them they are at 47 meters which is about 154 feet. Kate tries to get out of the top of the cage to swim a little further up to get into range to contact the captain, but the cage door is stuck and she can't open it. She tries to get out of a wide portion of the cage, but has to take her oxygen pack off to do so. She still can't fit through because of her mask and against Lisa's protests, takes it off so she can fit through the bar and puts the mask and tank back on, though it was probably easier to put them on when she was on the boat. If I were in that situation, my first instinct would just be to swim to the surface, sharks be damned! But the girls are told by the captain, once they are able to communicate with him, that the safest thing for them to do is stay in the cage. Even if there were no sharks around, it would be dangerous for them to come up to the surface because they could get "the bends" or decompression sickness, which is when if you ascend rapidly to the surface, nitrogen comes out of your blood quickly forming bubbles. The only way to safely get to the surface is to take five minute breaks (called decompression stops) every certain meters until they safely reach the surface. Kate explains the bends as having nitrogen bubbles in your brain to her sister who wants to swim up.

When Kate communicates with Taylor at 40 meters, he tells her that Javier (I think the same guy who gave her the camera) is coming down with a spare winch to hook the cage up to the boat and pull them up. She tells him she's at 55 bar which means nothing to me other than that it is significantly lower than the 200 bar she had started with. I have no idea how many minutes of air she has left, although I guess that depends on how fast you're using the air. The more you panic (like Mandy Moore did when she realized they were trapped) or the more you exert yourself (like Kate did when she was using a lot of energy to try to get out of the cage) the more air you're going to use up. 

We have a few scary moments with sharks around the cage to remind the audience that they are still a real threat. I mean, it's bad enough you're at the bottom of the ocean with a very low amount of air, but let's just thrown in two or three huge 28-feet great white sharks. Because why not, right? Kate goes out to contact the captain again and she gets nearly attacked by a shark. She is fine, but she is a bit injured. She tries to contact them again because they hear the boat motor and think the boat has left them. I was confused by this scene because, as we later find out, the boat hasn't left them. So what were they hearing? 

Lisa has 80 bar of air left which means at that depth she has about 20 minutes of air. It's even bleaker for Kate who only has 30 bars, so what's that? Like seven minutes? Pretty sure we have more than seven minutes (and twenty, for that matter!) of this movie left! They see a light in the distance and figure it must be Javier with the extra winch cable to hook up the cage. They bang on the cage with rocks, but Javier can't hear it. (I'm surprised it didn't attract more sharks). I thought for sure he was dead and the flashlight was just (somehow) floating in the water. Since Kate is injured, Lisa goes out to swim towards the light and keeps to the ground since sharks attack from below. This works out fine until she reaches the edge of a cliff and has to swim over a deep abyss which would be terrifying with sharks all around you. She does reach Javier who is alive (at least for the next three seconds) and he tells her to get back to her cage because a shark swoops by and grabs him. She is very disoriented because everything is pitch black and she doesn't know where she came from. She takes the flashlight and the cable winch and has to hide from the shark in a cave and we see huge crushing jaws trying to get her in the cave, blocking her exit. She manages to get back to the cage, though, with Kate helping her know where she is by banging on the bars. So if Javier was alive during the time the girls were trying to get his attention, what the hell was he doing? Did he not hear them banging on the cage. This and the hearing the boat motor confused me. 

The flashlight drove me absolutely crazy because Mandy Moore would wave it around wildly. Look, I understand why they need a flashlight because it came in handy when she was in the dark and needed to find her way back, but, my God, must she wave it around like a spotlight so much? She's only attracting the sharks to them! Have these girls never seen Jurassic Park?? You NEVER shine a bright light when a large blood-thirsty animal with many sharp teeth is in the vicinity! Oh, and not to mention both girls are bleeding from their wounds they've acquired so far, so a bright light AND blood, what a great combination for the sharks to find them! 

Lisa is able to get in contact with the captain (who is still there, so apparently they never left...maybe they just moved the boat a little?) and hook up the cable and the cage starts to be lifted from the ocean floor and the girls are elated as they see they are moving up. ( you still need to make a decompression stop even if you're in a cage?) However, I know something's up because there's still half an hour of the movie left and what are they going to do with that extra half hour once they are rescued? Is Lisa going to go back to the States and make her loser ex take her back? However, when it reaches 27 meters, the cable breaks AGAIN and down they go. What the f**k, what kind of sh***y company is this where they have the worst gear? Like, what are the odds that they would have TWO cables that would snap in half? When the cage falls, one of Lisa's legs gets pinned between one of the bars and the ocean floor. Kate makes contact again with the captain to tell him that Lisa is trapped and that she (Kate) only has five bar left on her gauge...which is probably like two minutes of air left. Taylor tells her he's going to send down a couple more oxygen tanks. I have no idea how they could be so accurate when they threw them down because how can they know exactly where they are? They don't end up right next to the cage, but they're pretty close. He also tells them he's notified the Coast Guard and that they should be arriving within the hour to do a deep dive rescue. Uh, why didn't he notify the professionals as soon as they knew there was a problem? Unless he did, but from the way it sounds, I think he just notified them a few minutes ago. 

Kate gets her new oxygen tank on, but is quickly snatched up by a shark. It happens so quickly that you're not really sure what happened. Lisa uses a spear gun to grab the other oxygen tank and manages to get it on just as her old one has run out. She is ecstatic when she hears her sister on the radio because she thought she has died. However, Kate tells her she's bleeding a lot and is attracting more sharks and she's running low on oxygen because her tank has been punctured. Lisa manages to unpin her leg and finds her sister. She knows the only way to save her is to come to the top and tells this to the captain who doesn't bring up too much of a fight with her and just tells her to make sure she makes a decompression stop.

Okay, I think now is a good time to tell people to stop reading right here if they don't want to be spoiled by the movie if they do want to watch it. I will be telling the fates of the main characters and if you don't want to be spoiled, I advise you to stop reading now! But first, check out this video I made of my ten favorite Mandy Moore songs:


Okay, so the girls start heading towards the surface and they have flare guns to scare the sharks off. They get a point to where they need to make a decompression stop and they're just surrounded by sharks. I'm pretty sure they didn't stay there the whole five minutes! They make it to the surface and everyone on the boat (which includes the two guys they met the night before, so I guess we know they didn't become shark bait) start screaming for them to swim and throw them a life preserver. The girls reach the boat and they're being helped up, but then a shark comes up and snatches them again. They do manage to get on the boat, but both of them are badly mangled. Their wounds are being treated as they lie next to each other. Lisa puts her hand up where she has a nasty gash and notices the blood is just floating in the air and thinks that's weird. She also starts to hear the captain's voice coming in and out, almost like it's coming from the transmitter and tells him that he sounds funny. Well, guess what? Turns out the whole thing was a hallucination! Well, not the WHOLE thing, just everything that happened after she got the second tank. You see, there's something I didn't mention before I started my spoilers because, well, I thought it might be considered a spoiler. The captain warns Kate that he didn't give them an extra tank before because going from one to another could cause severe nitrogen narcosis and he wanted the girls to watch each other closely so they could see if the other was behaving strangely or having hallucinations which was likely to happen. Well, after Kate was snatched by a shark (and if she wasn't killed by that shark, then she definitely drowned), Lisa started having hallucinations when she got her new air. She never heard her sister on the radio, she never got her leg unpinned, she and her sister never came to the surface and were never on the boat. The deep sea divers do come and are able to rescue her and take her back to the surface and this is when she realizes that her sister is long gone. Poor Mandy Moore. She loses her husband in a fire, she loses her sister in scuba diving accident, can't the poor girl just stop losing family members! I will say the movie did get me and I was not expecting the ending at all, even though they as plain as day tell the audience that hallucinations were likely to happen, so good job for fooling me, movie!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Game Boy

The Wizard
Director: Todd Holland
Cast: Fred Savage, Christian Slater, Beau Bridges, Luke Edwards, Jenny Lewis
Released: December 15, 1989

I had totally forgotten about the existence of this movie (and with good reason!), but was reminded of it when I binged watched a TV show late last year. You're probably thinking it was when I watched The Wonder Years, but it was actually watching The Goldbergs (which, if you think about it, is this generation's Wonder Years) as they had an episode dedicated to this movie. It was more dedicated to the Power Glove ("I love the Power Glove!"), but this movie gets a shout out in that episode when Adam goes to see it. When I watched it, I was like, "Oh, yeah, I remember that terrible movie! I should review it for my blog". And so here we are. Now it's been a long time since I've seen this movie. I may have seen it in the theater; I may have seen it at school (you know, when you had those "free" days, so the teacher just plopped you down in front of some PG-rated movie?); or I may have seen it at home on video or TV. All I know is that this is a terrible movie. Definitely the low point to Fred Savage's otherwise impressive young career. (I believe he filmed this between the second and third seasons of The Wonder Years, but don't quote me on that).  Let's see, all before the age of fourteen, he was nominated for an Emmy, hosted SNL, was on Oprah, had a cameo on Seinfeld, and starred in The Wizard. It's like, Which of these things don't belong with the others? 

In case you're not familiar with this movie (and how could you not be familiar with such a classic?!), it's about three kids who hitch hike from Middle of Nowhere, Utah to Los Angeles to attend a video game competition at Universal Studios. It's basically a commercial for Nintendo (including the Power Glove and Super Mario Bros. 3) and Universal Studios mixed into a movie that's Rain Man for children.

Half the time, I literally didn't know what was going on. Okay, I knew what was going on, I just didn't understand how any of this was possible. It absolutely made no sense how three kids (two thirteen-year-olds and one nine-year-old) traveled from Utah to California all by themselves without getting murdered or kidnapped or taken advantage of and the fact that NOBODY seemed concerned that these three young kids were always by themselves. Actually, they were taken advantage of when they hitch a ride with some cattle drivers and they see the kids counting their cash (which is literally less than $30) and pull over so they can rob the kids and leave them on the side of the road.

So I should probably set up the backstory: the nine-year-old is an autistic boy named Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards) and he's the younger brother to Corey (Fred Savage) and Nick (Christian Slater). Their parents are divorced and the two older boys live with their father, Sam (Beau Bridges) while Jimmy is in the custody of his mother and stepfather, though he lives in a special home for children with mental disabilities. He spends most of his time alone, playing with building blocks and he barely talks, only to utter single words occasionally. (Like "California"). Apparently he had a twin sister who drowned in a river a few years earlier while he was right there and watched it before his very eyes. Eesh, for a movie that is basically a commercial for Nintendo, that is a very bleak backstory! However, for some strange reason, the movie decides to keep this information hush hush until the middle of the movie when it is revealed. Maybe if we had known it right from the beginning, we would understand why Jimmy acts the way he does. Oh, and he's also a video game aficionado and has some mad gamer skillz.

Corey (by the way, everytime someone called Fred Savage "Corey", I would think, Corey is the one from Boy Meets World; this is Kevin!) decides he's going to get Jimmy and they're going to take a little trip to California, for really, no reason at all! And it is quite easy and convenient for him to break his little brother out of a place that really should have better security (in fact, it seems to have no security at all!) They hop into a Hostess truck and get out at a gas station. There are a lot of stupid montages of the two boys (and later three kids) traveling to Los Angeles. One of these is even set to "Send Me an Angel" when they get a ride from the Hell's Angels. I did laugh when the two brothers are spending the night in a place called Goblin Valley and they hear a wolf howl and Corey sarcastically says, "Great."

It's 16 miles to the Promise Land...
When they get to the train station and try to purchase two tickets to L.A. (which is laughable because they only have $27 dollars and it costs over $200) they come across a girl named Haley (Jenny Lewis) who is traveling to Reno, where she lives. No idea why a thirteen-year-old girl is traveling by herself, but she decides to butt her way in with the two boys after she sees how good Jimmy is at Double Dragon and thinks they should travel to the video game tournament at Universal Studios since the grand prize is $50,000 and they can split the prize if he wins. Never mind that you think you would have to sign up for a competition like that. Apparently you can just show up and enter. Which is exactly what happens later in the film. So stupid. Along the way they con people out of money by betting them that the young boy can beat their score at whatever video game is at the diner/gas station/restaurant they come across. So here's a fun fact: while I'm not familiar with Jenny Lewis, I am familiar with Rilo Kiley and she was the lead singer of that band (I guess they're no longer together...I only know one of their songs, to be honest, which is "With Arms Outstretched").

Also traveling towards California to look for the kids are Sam and Nick and a bounty hunter named Putman hired by the mother and stepfather (uh, why aren't they calling in the police for help?) who doesn't want the boys' father and older brother searching for them since he only gets paid if he brings them back. Don't you think more people searching for these kids would make more sense? There's a running gag throughout the movie that whenever they come across each other in the same small town, they slash the other's tires or they take a shovel to the other's car and smash out the headlights.

You're right, Lucas, it IS bad!
One of the best scenes of the movie (and when I say "best", I really mean "worst") is when the three kids come across a kid named Lucas. Oh, yes. If you've seen this movie, you know all about Lucas. Lucas is like the teen idol of the video gaming world. He is the only person that Jimmy is too scared to play against when Corey and Haley try to make a bet that Jimmy can beat them. You see, Lucas has a secret weapon known as the Power Glove. In an extremely horrible line delivery, after he straps on the glove, he says, "I love the Power's so bad!" Bwahahaha! He then proceeds to play a car racing game (I believe it was called Rad Racer?) with the glove. I was really confused because the glove has a numeric keypad on it, but he never uses it. So, what's the point of that, anyway? Now I never had the Power Glove, nor did I know anybody who had it so I've never had the fortune (misfortune?) to ever see it in its glory. However, I heard it was absolutely awful and didn't even work or just barely worked. Doing some research on Wikipedia, I discovered it came out in 1989 (makes sense since the movie came out the same year) and was discontinued in year later! It cost $75, which is equivalent to $148 in today's currency. No way I am paying nearly $150 for something that doesn't even work! Think of all the poor parents of the late '80s who were duped by this thing! I really thought the Power Glove was going to appear again during the tournament, but this is the only scene in the movie where it makes an appearance.

How did these kids
get into a casino?
Haley is a real piece of work. Know why? When they get to Reno, she finds her dad's trucker friend named Spanky and enlists him to play a game of craps (she's familiar with the game because her mother is (was?) a gambler). He listens to her instructions and wins them $400. Guess how much Haley gives Spanky as a thank you? TEN DOLLARS! Yes, ten freaking dollars! WTF, you little snot? I would think $100 would be a more reasonable payment. Also, how the hell did three children get to enter a casino? Were the rules a lot more lax in 1989 Reno? I did learn something from this movie which is that Reno is known as "The Biggest Little City in the World". It really makes no sense that she's from Reno because that is way out of the way on their way to L.A. They should have made her from Vegas, at least that would have made more sense, geographically. Also, Haley falsely accuses a man of touching her breasts, but I can forgive her for that because the man she accuses is Putman and she screams this in the middle of the arcade as he is grabbing Jimmy. He is escorted out of the building, but gets his chance to kidnap Jimmy later when he finds Haley's address and grabs him there. Haley gets her dad's trucker friends to block off the road and stop Putnam from going anywhere and they are able to get Jimmy back and Spanky drives them the way of the rest to Los Angeles. (Though if I were Spanky, I wouldn't drive them anywhere until I got the rest of my deserved money!)

To get ready for the tournament, while they were staying at the hotel in Reno (which they were able to afford with their $390), Haley calls a Nintendo Hotline to ask questions about specific video games that they need help with. I don't know how this Video Armageddon works, but apparently they are getting Jimmy prepared for all 97 (!!!!!) video games that could possibly be played at the tournament. Holy shnikeys, can you image if you had to prepare and study for 97 video games? Even if you LIKED playing video games, I think that would suck majorly! Of course, Lucas has all 97 games and knows them like the inside of his Power Glove (haha, see what I did there?) So what I want to know was there ever an actual Nintendo Hotline kids could call and ask questions to beat certain aspects of a game? I remember there were little cheat books you could buy to help you beat a game and gave you clues of what to do. My brother bought the cheatbook for the PC game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (shout out to anyone else who had that game!) and it was really a godsend and helped immensely. I assume the Nintendo Hotline was a real thing since everything else in the movie pertaining to Nintendo was real and they were just advertising it. I am surprised that they didn't have Haley saying the phone number out loud as she dialed it so it would get more advertisement!

We arrive at Universal Studios where apparently you don't need to purchase a ticket to get into! Spanky just drops them off literally right inside of the theme park and they just walk up to the building where Video Armageddon is taking place and Jimmy is given a number. They go inside where about fifty kids are playing video games on small monitors while the people in the audience (mostly kids) cheer them on. I remember the monitors the games being played on are much bigger, but those will come later in the movie. Right now there's just a bunch of kids playing Ninja Gaiden (whatever that is) on small TV screens. I can't imagine anything more boring than watching that. Well, I can, but that has to be on the bottom of my list of things I would most want to watch! You hear the announcer before you see him and at first I thought it was Christopher Lloyd because it sounded a lot like Doc Brown, but it wasn't him. The kids have ten minutes to play the game and the three with the highest scores will go on to be the final three in the ultimate championship to determine who will be the winner of FITY THOUSAND DOLLARS!! This includes Jimmy, Lucas, and some random girl with braids and glasses

Hey, there, l'il Tobey Maguire
(front left)
The host tells them they will be playing a brand new game and they will convene back in fifteen minutes to start. Haley is angry about a new game being played, but I think that's fair. At least everyone is starting on equal ground. Not only are the kids at Universal Studios, but so are Jimmy's mother and stepdad and Sam and Nick and Putnam. Lucas sees him and points the kids out to him. He's with a posse of his friends which include a young Tobey Maguire with a mullet. He has no lines, though. I guess you got to start somewhere! The kids are chased around Universal Studios and they sort of just run into the undergrounds of one of the rides with King Kong which I'm pretty sure is illegal and anyone doing that would be stopped in a nanosecond, but during this time apparently there was no security at all at Universal Studios. (Why should there be when you can just pop in there without purchasing a ticket?) There's even a scene where the kids are hopping from tram to tram while being pursued by the bounty hunter and nobody blinks an eye or realizes how dangerous this is. However, there is one sensible woman who asks the children, "Where is your mother?"

It's T minus two minutes until the finals are about to start and Lucas and the girl with braids and glasses are ready to take their places. The countdown clock gets down to ten seconds and there's still
no Jimmy which makes Lucas happy, but of course, he makes it at the last second and all three kids are about to play the new game...which is...wait for it.....WAIT FOR IT......SUPER MARIO BROS. 3!!!! WHAT?!??! I LOVE THAT GAME! OMG, can you imagine how excited kids were when they saw this? This was a preview for the game because it actually was't released until two months later in February 1990. When I watched them playing this game, it bought back a lot of nostalgia because I totally remember playing it. And this is when they play it on the huge monitors which is where I remembered that from. You know what I really hated? Those plants that heaved the fireballs at you and the only way you could stop them was if you got the flower power and got your own fireballs to heave back at them. The kids have ten minutes and whoever has the highest score at the end, wins. It looks bad for Jimmy when he loses two of his lives quite quickly, but he makes a quick comeback. Haley keeps yelling at him to, "Get the star, Jimmy, the star!" In the last ten seconds of the game, he gets like, ten thousand points (okay I may be exaggerating a little!) and wins the championship. Yippee.

The movie ends with a sappy scene of the family reuniting and Jimmy going to live with his two older brothers and dad. I have no idea what happened to Haley, though. I guess they just dropped her off in Reno on their way back to Utah. I wasn't sure about how family life. It sounded like her dad was always out on the road being a trucker and her mother was a gambler. Wonder if they split the money with her and she was able to buy a house like she wanted to? Though I don't know if $25,000 would be enough for a house even in 1989?

Yeah, this movie is just absolutely awful. However, I did re-live certain parts of my childhood when I heard Zelda get a shoutout or watched them play Super Mario Bros. 3 or heard two (yes, TWO) New Kids on the Block songs played in the background. Oh, and I loved Haley's wardrobe as it was so '80s.

A couple years ago I did a video review of five of my favorite video/PC (mostly PC) games, so if you haven't heard that, you can listen to it here.