Movie Review – Zombieland: Double Tap

Movie Review - Zombieland: Double TapZombieland: Double Tap wasn’t great, but it was better than I expected and certainly satisfying.

I’m happy to say that Double Tap avoids the typical disappointment from sequels that were added on to a successful movie as a money grab. #ZL2 has the same charm and wit as the original. I’m not saying it was as good as the original, but only because the original Zombieland had, well, originality. What can you say? Zombieland created the zomedy genre.

The introduction of new characters was, for the most part, fun. Without giving anything away, I think some were used just enough, while others fortunately only had a few short scenes.

Here’s what I really enjoyed: the plot for Double Tap is mostly about creating humor. However, in little pieces here and there small details are added about characters that really make a difference later. Double Tap isn’t a complex story by any means — that’s not the sort of story this aspires to be. Kudos to the writers (Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick) for keeping the humor coming while weaving these new details into a great payoff, without resorting to cheap cliches.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: ZL2 is a short movie, but I have 2 good Peetimes. The 1st one is longer, but so is the synopsis. I’d recommend the 2nd Peetime. Neither has any action to speak of, but are immediately followed by action scenes, so don’t be late.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Zombieland: Double Tap. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content
Genres: Action, Comedy, Horror, Zombie

Rules to Survive in ZombieLand

zombieland poster 1991
Cardio, don’t be a hero…and CLOWNS? I have to agree with Columbus and Clowns. Sorry. Give me Zombies ANYDAY.

Here are the rules presented on the big screen in 2009’s Zombieland, one of the two greatest Rom-Com-Zom movies ever made.

(Just so you don’t have to guess, the other is Shaun of the Dead.)

With Zombieland 2: Double Tap coming out, RunPee thought a refresher on zombie survival rules was in order. Can you remember more than the first three?

There are 11 officially listed rules, but we don’t know them all from the first movie — ie, “Check the backseat” is listed onscreen as Rule 31. So this list is incomplete, based on Zombieland 1. Stay tuned, hopefully, for more to come in the sequel!

Here’s we what we learned from the first Zombieland film.

All The Rules to Surviving in Zombieland

1. Cardio

Columbus lists this as Rule Number One. Like escaping a bear, you just have to be faster than the other guys. Bonus points if you’re faster than the zombie. Remember, some are slow shuffling undead, and some are superhuman fast, but they are both still zombies. And hungry for you. Stay in shape.

(Also, like Columbus, you might need to circle your car enough times to find your keys. Nobody ever said zombies were smart. Just keep running.)

2. Double Tap
Columbus says, “When in doubt, don’t get stingy with your bullets.” You’ve got unlimited access to sporting and gun shop supplies. Use them. Why trust one head shot when you can have two, or more? Unload the whole damn cartridge if you’re annoyed enough.

And don’t prod the body with your foot to be sure the undead are dead. Don’t be like stupid people in movies. Use your Cardio and get the hell out.

BTW, Double Tap is the name of the Zombieland sequel. So we can’t underline the importance of this rule and neither should you.

3. Beware of Bathrooms
You are at your most vulnerable while sitting on the toilet, so always take extra care.

I learned this early on while watching X-Files…nothing good ever happens in bathrooms, while you’re setting up for a nice bath, or waiting for your bowels to move. This kind of thing has been spoofed in many films, but the song remains the same — just because you have your pants down doesn’t mean you’re safe.

What to do?

Zombies seem to sneak up on people who are at their most vulnerable, although zombies really just attack with no special circumstances. However, this does not change the fact that toilets are places you want to be careful around. The best way to stay safe is to check each bathroom before you enter, in every cubicle. Also remember: just because it’s not humanly acceptable to crawl under cubical doors, it doesn’t mean the zombies won’t do it.

4. Buckle Up (Canon: this is Rule 31, in-universe)
It doesn’t do to be hyper alert for zombies and clueless to the normal safely hazards of life. Seat belts save lives, even especially when the danger level is dialed up to 11.

Columbus’ life is preserved from this rule right in the movie. Tallahassee, though, can’t get any shits about mundane things like seat belts. Good thing Woody Harrelson is a big box office draw. That should keep him safe through the sequel, or even three-quel.

5. Travel Light

This includes both physical possessions and attachments to people. You never know when you’re going to have to kill your mum (see: Shaun of the Dead).

Zombies can surprise you at any moment, and you’ll need to make a fast get away, more often that you’d think — even from the slow undead. As well as using your well-honed Cardio to outrun the zombie(s), you’ll also need to be light on your feet. That means reducing the weight of objects you’re carrying with you. So instead of a bulky suitcase full of personal mementos, you’d be safer with a smaller amount of luggage, such as a backpack that’s easy to carry and won’t slow you down. Maybe bury your stuff somewhere for later retrieval when things blow over. If, of course, that ever happens.

Your heaviest luggage in Zombieland should be guns, ammo, blunt smashing tools, water, food, and medical supplies. Remember, in an empty world you can get these things almost anywhere.

And, yes, if you can find them, Twinkies last forever.

6. Don’t Be A Hero
Don’t stick your juicy blood-filled neck out for others if you wish to stay alive.

In Zombieland, the big risk is you might get eaten alive by zombies if you’re not always alert.

However, remember there are certain circumstances where this rule could, maybe, be ignored. Perhaps you want to save someone who makes staying alive worth it (because you love them), or you wish to ensure you have a partner to back you up when sleeping/smashing tourist items in tacky gift shops (see Rule 9 — The Buddy System).

7. Limber Up (In-Universe, Limber Up is Rule 18)

Don’t take too much time distracting yourself with the yoga before an actual attack, but in your down time, stretch and limber your body. You never know when you’ll need flexibility to get out of a rough situation. This goes along with the Cardio rule. Fitness is your best offensive weapon.

8. When In Doubt, Always Know Your Way Out
If you’ve seen any action films, you’ll know the importance of knowing backdoors, trapdoors, or even warehouse windows, anything offering an extra escape when you’re surrounded by hordes of hungry undead.

What does this mean? Look around and scope out the place. Prop open spare doors. Know your exits. Don’t go inside if  you don’t know at least a couple of ways out. Even Shaun got trapped in the Winchester Pub in Shaun of the Dead, even though he’d been there hundreds of times. Don’t let this be you. Indoors, outdoors…nowhere is safe. Your brain is your best defensive weapon (and apparently a tasty zombie treat). Know the way out.

9. The Buddy System

Are you alone? You might not last long. Sometimes you have to sleep, or cook, or poop (see Bathroom Rule), or maybe even have sexy times. Someone has to keep a look-out for you, and you for them.

It’s not altruism. It’s just smart. Humans are social creatures. Zombies are not.

10. Check The Back Seat

Ever see ANY movie, ever? The supposed hero gets into their car and…low and behold…in the backseat someone rises up to throttle them. Ugh.

This is just common sense. Check your seats. Always. Duh.

11. Enjoy The Little Things

Life in Zombieland is awful. Really. Almost nobody is left alive, and even your loved ones might now be brain sucking monsters. If eating Twinkies, breaking Indian pottery, or riding roller coasters are all you have left to enjoy, make those things happen.

In fact, life in Real-land can be tough. It only makes sense to enjoy the little things, no matter what. What things make you happy, even for a moment? Do them. This is a lesson Zombieland can teach us all.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap will be live soon. Let’s assume there will be more rules coming down the pike. I look forward to more dystopian life lessons. Got any guesses about survival tactics in a world gone nuts? Comment section is down below. 

Movie review : ZombieLand

Best Zombie Movies Ever

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Best Zombie Movies Ever

Twinkies not included.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap opens this week and I have a feeling I’m not the only one hungry for Twinkies.  It’s been ten years since the first Zombieland and if the sequel does well, they’re talking about making a third one in another ten years.  In case you need more zombie goodness to tide you over until then, here are some of my favorite zombie movies.

Night of the Living Dead

George Romero pretty much created the genre with this 1968 cult classic.  Seven people are trapped in a farmhouse surrounded by a growing number of zombies.  The movie remains a classic of not only the horror genre, but of independent cinema as well.

“Are you down with the sickness?”

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Zack Snyder directed a remake of Romero’s loose sequel to Night of the Living Dead and managed to keep the satirical anti-consumerism theme intact.  This time, a group of strangers seek refuge inside a shopping mall, as zombies wander the streets.  The cast features Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames — and Ty Burrell, playing a much different character than fun-loving Dad Phil from Modern Family.  Be sure to stay through the  credits to learn the fate of the characters.

28 Days Later

This movie popularized the concept of fast zombies.  It also revived the popularity of zombie films.  In fact, I’d argue that the continued popularity of everything zombie-related in pop culture began with this movie in 2002.  This is also the movie that introduced Cillian Murphy to American audiences.  Unfortunately, a sequel (28 Weeks Later) proved to be less satisfying to audiences and critics.

Shaun of the Dead

In this comedy, a directionless Londoner is forced to take action to protect his family and friends when a zombie outbreak occurs.  This is the first of three films starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright that make up The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.  (Cornetto is a brand of ice cream popular in the UK.)  There are fun references to Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later, as well as other zombie films.

Body Snatchers

It’s a point of contention whether body snatcher films count as zombie movies or not.  I contend that they do.  They have plenty in common, including the mass spreading of infection.  This 1993 installment also features one of the main hallmarks of a true zombie movie: a bleak ending.  I’ve only seen this once, twenty-six years ago, but parts of it have stayed with me.

Resident Evil series

This is probably the longest-running movie franchise based on a video game.  The mileage may vary from one installment to the next.  I didn’t care for the first part, loved the second one, was disappointed by the third one, etc.  But the ones that are good are amazing with action scenes that are some of my favorites.  (Can we get Milla Jovovich in a John Wick movie please?)  The series tends to lean heavily on action (at the expense of scares) so if  you’re a horror purist, these may not be what you’re looking for.

World War Z

This is one of the few zombie movies that doesn’t just present zombies as a global epidemic but actually take you around the globe to witness it.  The scene where the zombies climb over the wall in Jerusalem is overwhelming.  Brad Pitt plays a former U.N. investigator trying to protect his family and find a way to stop the pandemic.

Iggy Pop as a zombie. You’re welcome.

The Dead Don’t Die

Director Jim Jarmusch fiercely divided critics and audiences with this recent zombie parody.  It features an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny,  Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, RZA, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, Iggy Pop, and Selena Gomez.  It’s a very metaphysical film.  People tend to love it or hate it.  I loved it and found it to be rather humorous.

On my watch list:

Just to give you an idea of my blind spots and to add a few more titles to your own must-see list, here are the zombie movies I haven’t gotten around to yet:

Anna and the Apocalypse, Day of the Dead, Fido, Maggie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Train to Busan, and Warm Bodies.

Don’t miss the funniest and scariest parts of your favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movie theater.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Joker and It: Chapter Two.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

Warm Bodies – movie review

Movie Review – World War Z

How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Shark In a Shark Movie (or real life)

the meg shark mouth poster
Don’t be like dumb people in shark films.

Like shark movies? Ever wonder WHY we enjoy these monster/disaster/fish bait movies so much? I wonder that myself. It’s not like they’re teaching us how to avoid being eaten alive, hunted like prey, or anything useful.

So here’s the top ten ways to avoid becoming “chummy” with the sharks. (Get it? Get it? Sheesh.) I’m getting my safety information from National Geographic, but I’m also not an idiot. These things are common sense.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Being Eaten by Sharks (with movie examples of what not to do).

1. STAY AWAY FROM DEAD THINGS IN THE WATER.

You’d think this would be obvious. Someone something will be hanging around said dead fish, whale, or person, eating the body. Always. People in the movies are always dangling around with tasty arms and legs, paddling about, curious and/or sad about the dead thing. Move along, people! (These are the same characters who think it’s a great idea to split up in haunted houses to look for clues.)

the reef shark movie
Swim away from the bodies.

Point: In The Shallows, Blake Lively’s character swam up against a chewed up,  bloody whale. That would have been a great time to LEAVE. Don’t even get me started on the people in The Reef.

2. On a similar note, avoid schools of fish, seals, or sea lions.

Don’t add to the buffet. Simple rules, here.

3. If you see a lot of seabird or dolphin activity, be aware they are attracted to the same food sharks like. 

So far, Rules 1-3 are variations on a theme. Stay off the menu when there’s a meal about.

4. ALSO SHOULD BE OBVIOUS: Stay away from fishing boats, which usually dump entrails and blood in the water. 

I just watched 47 Meters Down 2 – Uncaged. Vague and minor spoiler: some people surface right as a glass bottomed shark boat dumped chum in the sea for the pleasure of tourists. This did not go well for those people.

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

5. Are you bleeding at all? Menstruating, even? Get out of the ocean.

Sharks can smell tiny amounts of blood over large distances. That big snout isn’t just a container for teeth. Remember the movie Pitch Black? (Which wasn’t a shark film, but the idea still applies.) #BloodSmells

pennywise chapter one it
Ewww. Okay. Just no to blood.

6. Avoid storm drain release points. Likewise, places where sewage enters the ocean.

These ‘garbage’ points attract bait fish, which attracts the sharks who eat them. Also, gross! Don’t swim there! I live right beside a lovely bay on the sea with plenty of nice places to swim, and STILL see young families playing in the water around the YUCKY WATER, E COLI PRESENT, DON’T SWIM HERE signs.

Just because the water’s shallow doesn’t mean it’s safe.

7. Avoid: Harbor channels, steep ocean floor drop offs, river entrances, and any place the water is murky. And be aware that after rains, river entrances will sweep yummy baitfish out to sea. 

These are places sharks like to patrol. And they can see quite well in the muck.

deep blue sea shark fin
They can still see you.

8. Don’t swim at dusk. Or dawn or night. Or any time alone, in an isolated area, especially at night. 

Twilight isn’t the time only Vampires like to feed. Also, with the not swimming alone? You’re safer in numbers. Just like with Vampires!

Did you see The Shallows? Blake Lively should have known better than to swim alone at a remote beach like that, even in broad daylight.

the shallows with blake lively
Don’t swim alone on a super remote beach, not even if you’re Blake Lively.

9. Don’t wear bright colors (yellow and orange are supposed to be the worst), or reflective jewelry that a shark will interpret as fish scales. 

Although, back to The Shallows, the jewelry did a fantastic job stitching up Blake’s skin after her first shark encounter. So if you wear jewelry, consider the kind that can double as a needle and thread.

10. Don’t splash too much. 

Man, it annoyed me in The Reef when those survivors not only hung around the dead bodies, but kicked and splashed and made too much activity while drifting around the Pacific. This is how scared prey acts.

Remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss lost his poison-laced spear? He was not in the shark cage anymore, and a really mean Great White was right there. Playing a legitimately smart character, he dove down under some flotsam in his scuba gear to wait out the shark presence. The scientist survived with no worries.

jaws movie poster
Great movie that actually featured smart people.

There are different ways to swim. Some involve a lot of splashing. Others have more sinuous moves. Try to do, say, the breaststroke. Or at least kick smoothly, under the water, if you’re holding onto a float.

And keep your pets, especially dogs, out of the water. They make a lot of commotion. The pet rat in The Abyss was an unusual case, but worked out for the rat. The bird in Deep Blue Sea was less lucky. I won’t spoil what happens to the dog in Crawl, but that’s an alligator movie, and I don’t have any details on gator attacks.

What if you’re diving and a shark does approach you?

Stay as still as possible if you can’t easily exit the water. But if you’re actually attacked, or if the shark has you in its mouth, don’t play dead. Attack back with everything you can, and try to get the shark in the delicate areas of eyes, gills, or snout. If you recall, in Deep Blue Sea, a large crucifix made a great shark weapon.  (Again with the useful jewelry…hmmm…)

I’m not saying to use movies for your guide in survival situations, but at least these are things to think about.

Overall, Be Aware of Yourself in the Water

When all is said and done, here’s the note attached to the credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Sharks kill ten people a year. People kill ten million sharks a year. So the idea here is to be aware, but not paranoid. Note also that this statistic doesn’t include people who are attacked and survived. Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton probably didn’t commit any of these Ten Deadly Sins, but lost an arm anyway.

bethany hamilton unstoppable movie poster
Bethany Hamilton, still rocking it.

Just be think of how sea predators work, and you won’t have to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. And if you feel something touch you while swimming, calmly but efficiently get the hell out of the water.

Don’t be like the stupid people in these shark movies:

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

 

Preview Movie Review – Bad CGI Sharks

bad cgi sharks
The lead shark looks better than anything in Jaws 2, actually.

RunPee was fortunate enough to secure a screener movie to review during our infamous, annual Shark Binge (which consists of just me, but I do this every year in the summer until even I get sharked out.)

Bad CGI Sharks is a strange beast (pun incidental). In spite of the “bad” name, the production values are solid, the on-location settings work, and the acting is frequently amusing. Even “Diane” — the main shark (when she’s not blitzing out in the computer lab) — looks pretty good, as she serenely swims through the air in the city. Diane’s CGI was far, far above the likes of Jaws 2, which I’m fairly sure had a bigger budget.

It’s Shark Diane’s cracked-out hench-sharks that lends the title its name. These sharks are cartoon-ish, meant as comic relief. I don’t understand their point, though, since they aren’t either funny or remotely menacing. I must have  missed something, so I passed this screener on to RunPee Sis — who’s RunPee’s resident Scream Queen — for her expert opinion.

Plot

What plot?

Okay, I’ll try again. Um. Sharks swim through the air in a city and attack people in their bedrooms. Often in their underwear. That’s all fun.

What I didn’t get is why the climax had to be on the beach. Granted, not even the main guys knew why they HAD to hit the beach, so I guess that’s just baked into the plot. Sharks have to be on beaches, right? Maybe the sharks themselves felt they needed to return to the sea in some obscure way, even though they knew they were digital.

Oh, and right. Yes, they knew they weren’t real. They were self-aware AI CGI sharks, created by the characters for the screenplay “SHARKS OUTTA WATER” the (twin?) boys were writing.

And their creations came alive.

A freaky deaky Frankenstein’s shark allegory is what we have here.

I wish it was just funnier. The trailer is GREAT, but it contains all the jokes that work. I hate when that happens. The trailer is hysterical, but better than the movie.

If you do nothing else here, watch this ingenuously funny 2 minute trailer: 

Character Development

There are the two brothers Jason and Mathew (using their actors’ own names) who are as different as can be, but get along sometimes: long enough to infrequently collaborate on their shark movie. And then get together long enough to realize their screenplay sharks ARE OUT THERE, eating people.

Still with me?

My favorite character was the computer tech, from whom Shark Diane demanded all kinds of weird upgrades. Said tech doesn’t have much to do, but when she starts corpsing (losing character) on the phone to the boys, I crack the hell up.

I mean, her character was supposed to be rattled and scared — the mean old air shark is right there in her office, ready to eat her — but it’s fine if the actress just lost it anyway, and that bit was left in in the script for fun.

It’s the best moment. Her lines are too ridiculous to not start a sort of crazed gurgling: “The digital shark has become self aware! How come the shark is aware?” <—–something like that. I giggled too. That was pretty fresh.

bad cgi sharks title sharks outta water
The Meta-film within the film is contained in this highly technical notebook.

Oh, and then there’s the ‘narrator’, played by Matteo Molinari as Bernardo. Or was he a kind of lunatic Greek Chorus? Meta-wise, he could have been the Script Editor. Whatever Bernardo was, his over the top antics were intentionally weirder than weird, and ironically made the film work better than expected.

Bernardo also gives us an entertaining Intermission segment, but don’t use that as a Peetime. It’s ludicrous, but in the good way. Me likee.

Bad CGI Sharks, Overall

I can’t decide whether Bad CGI Sharks fulfills its niche. Or what the niche really is. Is this comedy, horror, or film camp? I’m going with the latter — a straight up camp parody. And until I hear from RunPee Sis to back this up or not, I’m going to stick with “Intentionally Terrible”. On that basis, let’s say this is a proper C film, with a + tacked on for some great moments of wacky goodness.

Probably best seen stoned. Or if you appreciate amazingly awful flicks as an art form in itself.

Movie Grade: C+ 

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Movie Review - 47 Meters Down: UncagedI watched a lot of shark movies recently to get excited for 47 Meters Down 2. Almost all of them were a good time. Plus, I really liked the original 47 Meters Down. But this sequel is dreadful.

I can’t even begin to tell you just how bad this movie is.

Basically, the undersea premise could have been a grand adventure — an Indiana Jones type film with blind albino cave sharks, patrolling an ancient submerged city, full of secrets and buried treasure.

Instead, 47 Meters Down 2 is  just dumb. Boring. Mindless and stupefying. It’s frequently so dark and murky underwater that it’s hard to see the action. The main redeeming feature: it was short. Why did this movie happen? Who thought this was a good idea? WHY WHY WHY WTF…arg.

Yeah. I think it’s the worst flick I’ve seen in years. (And I watch a lot of movies for RunPee.) 47 Meters Down: Uncaged doesn’t even rate a “so bad it’s good” epithet. It’s not that clever. (Here’s how to do a good ‘bad’ shark movie.)

I’ll make an effort to review this rotten film in more detail later (maybe), but with any luck it won’t matter, since you won’t see it anyway.

More Detail, Barely:

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

In an effort to add more information to this review, I’ll add that there’s zero relationship with the original 47 Meters premise or characters.  47 2 is a meager attempt to launch a shark film franchise out of too little meat. The undersea city concept could have been so cool. What a shame.

The producers should have just named the film Fish Bait and swam far, far away…

Seriously. PASS.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: This is a short movie with a lot of action. I have 1 good Peetimes early on, and 1 good for Emergencies later. Since there’s nothing during the credits, you can run out as soon as the credits roll.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for creature related violence and terror, some bloody images and brief rude gestures
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Horror

Pro-Tip — SEE ANY OF THESE SHARK MOVIES INSTEAD: 

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

Movie Review – The Meg

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

Preview Movie Review – Bad CGI Sharks

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

blake lively in the shallows shark film
Blake Lively has impressive survival skills, compared the chum-bait in most shark films.

The Shallows is much better than The Reef (or the more recent Crawl) but offers the same kind of apex predator adventure. Blake Lively (as Nancy) tells a more compelling story, however, through sheer acting talent and believable physicality.

What do you do when you you’re trapped on a rock, spitting distance to shore, with a hungry shark blocking your path to safety?

The difference:  The Reef had a small group of edible people to start with, and in The Shallows Nancy is (mostly) alone. It’s not a story of the last man standing, but whether the only character lives at all.

This is a well-told shark survival tale, but not exactly riveting, adventure-wise. There’s a lot of time spent hanging out on a rock and a buoy. It works, however.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Survival Skills Sell the Scenes

Lively performs her few action sequences skillfully. Nancy’s smart, determined, and one hell of a fighter when it’s down to getting out alive from an oddly persistent shark. I loved the use of her necklaces — she was trained as a doctor, after all.

(Important safety tip: make sure your surfing pendant can be used as a needle to sew up your skin….or cut a compression bandage from a neoprene suit, if necessary.)

The early use of the cell phone sequences were nicely portrayed, but a bit odd in context. More films could take their cues on how to show someone interacting with their texts and face calls, but….isn’t this unnamed beach like, SUPER remote? Where is Nancy getting her cell reception from? How does she intend to call Uber 50 miles down a dirt track in the jungle? These things do bother me. (But not as much as the drunk asshole stealing her phone…)

Also, I would totally have eaten that seagull. She was three days in by the climax, and besides the dangers of dehydration, hunger would have reared its head. She did eat that crab — good, good — but then spit it up. Less good. Eat that thing, girl. You have to keep your strength up.

 The Shallows, Overall:

The Shallows is one of the better shark movies in the genre. But it’s less about action and gore than the tale of one smart gringa who saves her own self from a terrible fate…and that’s a great thing in any film. It’s not as amazing as Jaws, but it’s up there with Deep Blue Sea and 47 Meters Down. Smart people rock!

Recommended.

Movie Grade: B

Here’s a PSA: If you encounter a DEAD, HALF-EATEN WHALE floating beside you, leave the scene. Leave right away, without making a lot of splashy, shark-alerting kicks. Don’t hang around to inspect the chum. I shouldn’t even have to say this.

National Geographic has a few shark survival tips you might care to memorize if you like the ocean.  Be careful out there.  🙂

More Shark Related Films, Reviewed on RunPee.com

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Review – Crawl

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

deep blue sea team in aquatica lab
Well, the sharks are smarter now, so we’ll be best friends, right?

I just watched 1999s Deep Blue Sea for the first time, during Shark Week 2019. DBS is sort of like Jurassic World if the Mosasaurus started hunting the lab techs. With some Samuel L Jackson on the side — although someone else got his famous line. And there’s a nod to Jaws. (Licence plate, but I’m sure you noticed this right away.)

Did I have fun watching Deep Blue Sea?

You betcha!

Is it realistic?

Um. Maybe some of it could be? But mostly, no — sharks don’t seem driven by vengeance and testosterone, even if they’ve become seven times smarter by evil tech (with the best intentions, actually). Carter’s (Thomas Jane) last minute explanation of the super-sharks’ behavior works far better. I can see how the sharks might have had that plan. Shades of Aliens there — “How could they cut the power, man?! They’re animals!” And the first Jurassic Park itself: “Because we’re being hunted.”

Also, the science is a little dodgy.

I’m getting nowhere without going into spoilers, so let me continue this part and move on.

The Aquatica Set is the Star of the Film

The undersea laboratory Aquatica is an extraordinary  base for action film-making. Deep Blue Sea makes use of the whole design, conceptually. Think about it: in the water, you move around in three dimensions, rather than the two surface dwellers usually contend with. This set design fully uses all dimensions and directions, including the logic of going down to go up.

There’s the above-sea catwalks and the sky tower, set around a Sea-World-type shark enclosure. Then there’s the undersea high-tech lab levels, complete with a pressure-sealed shark bay and the obligatory bank of monitors.

Also, there’s the fancy Five Star stainless steel kitchen. Somehow this place (with only a half-dozen staff I could see) employs a full time chef. Who is also a Preacher. (Go with it, because the kitchen scenes are worth it…and ALSO call back to a certain iconic Jurassic Park scene.)

Then the lower levels feel much like sets from submarine movies — cramped, utilitarian maintenance passageways, full of ladders, bottomless shafts, and Jeffries Tubes. 😉 The story starts above the ocean, moves midway to around 60 feet under the sea, drops you down to the ocean floor…and agonizingly crawls back to the surface. This has to be one of the most creative uses of set concept I’ve seen. (Plus, the shaft here makes actual sense, unlike the ubiquitous chasms in the Star Wars Galaxy of films.)

I’m reminded a lot of the cool little film Escape Room from last year. Each set is a ‘room’, tasking the dwindling group of survivors with puzzles to solve to level up towards freedom.

Getting What You Expect in a Shark Film

Overall: Deep Blue Sea is a lot of fun, and you get what you expect in a shark movie…people torn apart and/or eaten whole, guessing who’s the last one standing (or swimming), wondering how the sharks will die in the end.

IF THEY DO. Is there a shark film out there where the shark kills all the people and gets away?

deep blue sea shark fin
Most of the shark scenes are in darkness like this. Remember, this is 1999. It’s a dodge, like having all the T-Rex scenes at night and in the rain in Jurassic Park.

Spoilers ahead for Deep Blue Sea:

You’ve been warned.

Spoilers ahead.

Really. Who lives and dies:

I absolutely wanted the Chef/Preacher to survive. I didn’t realize he was LL Cool J until the credits rolled: I just really liked his character. J had the best scenes. I loved his rude little parrot, how he hid in his own oven (yikes), and intelligently dispatched his shark.

He should have died in the explosion, but this is a movie, and here’s the thing in film: if you don’t see a dead body, you can’t take assume someone is dead. And sometimes, not even after that. (As with Zombies, decapitation of the head helps. (Unless you’re in an X-Files film.)

I was thrilled with the continuity of the flaming fragments from the kitchen level raining down the elevator shaft. The crew had to worry about hypothermia, burning rain from above, ravenously mean sharks below, and drowning as each submerged level burst open… all while climbing rickety emergency ladders that kept breaking to pieces. It could have felt over-the-top campy, but it just played right.

Who Lives, Who Dies

The deaths we did get were interesting choices. Stellan Skarsgård’s death was well executed, providing an eerie, chilling thrill that stands out as the single best scene. I was sad to lose him so early on.

This scene rocks: 

Also, shall we mourn for Jackson, whose moment we should have seen coming, but never expected (and so unceremoniously)? The A-listers are supposed to survive, right?

The bird getting eated was…shocking. That was in 1999. That kind of thing (pet deaths, unless it’s in a ‘dog movie’) doesn’t happen much these days. Didn’t even the rat survive in The Abyss?

Then, the lead scientist (Saffron Burrows) getting swallowed whole? That seemed like some Old Testament shit right there, based on the  Jurassic Park “messing with nature” theme, and Preacher’s constant commentaries to God, a la LadyHawke.

Normally the alpha female would  be the sole survivor in a shark film. This gal was smart (she took down her shark handily), had a mission that really would have helped people, and had chemistry with Carter, the manly man of the group. I salute the writers for taking the less obvious route. Her self sacrifice redeems her character, if you feel she needed redeeming. She legit wanted to cure brain aliments that devastate millions of patients and their families. She just took some morally dark shortcuts to get there, and the implication is she paid for it with her life.

These sharks don’t act like real animals, but that’s because of Man’s Hubris/Interference, so I’m okay with this. Normally it’s a pet peeve of mine when an animal acts like a “monster.” But these are chimeras, with new rules I guess, and their plan was to escape to the Deep Blue Sea (ahem) more than anything else, and whatever, and it’s not worth working this out.

Should you see Deep Blue Sea?

See Deep Blue Sea if you like action-adventure and don’t mind some mild gore. This barely classifies as horror. I looked away once, and that wasn’t even too nasty (poor Scoggs — Michael Rapaport — he was cool. I like smart people in movies).

If you can handle the Jurassic Park and Aliens films, you’re good to go. Toss in some philosophy about the ethics of “saving mankind through DNA fun”, and you’ve got a super enjoyable B monster movie. I enjoyed this one greatly, as I work my way through shark films over Shark Week, just before 47 Meters 2 premiers.

Recommended!

Movie Grade: B

More of RunPee’s Shark Movie Reviews:

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

47 Meters Down is a surprisingly decent shark movie. And it’s not even that scary – the horror level was low (and I’m a horror scaredy-cat, so trust me). What 47 Meters Down had going for it was a unique shark premise, and a gripping survival element. While the girls screamed a lot, both stepped up to the plate eventually to escape their increasingly desperate mess.

What problems did Lisa and Kate have?

  • Trapped in shark infested waters in a broken shark cage
  • Pinned down by the cage crane
  • Running out of air
  • Being just out of ship communication (47 meters — on the bottom of the ocean shelf)
  • Running the risk of getting the bends (which means certain death if they swim to the surface too quickly)
  • Lots of mundane things, like a heavy iron cage landing on your LEG

Did the two sisters survive? Well, that’s not really the point of the movie. It’s the middle of the story that’s the most fun. The beginning sets up the characters. The end resolves the plot. But the center section has the gripping moments, the awful series of dilemmas to overcome, and the horrific situation of being trapped in a shark cage next to blood and various chum…juuust out of radio reach to the waiting boat, and safety, above.

I have to admit the 47 Meters ending was super original and made me weirdly happy. All the clues were there. I’m shocked I didn’t figure out what was actually happening, although I did think at the time that the ‘happy’ stuff was unrealistic, and chalked it up to a Hollywood Ending.

I need to stop talking before I spoil anything.

Shark Movie Lineup Fun:

I’m going though a ‘shark phase’, catching up on all the best shark movies I missed the first time around. My re-watch of Jaws slayed me: A+++ all the way: I forgot how damn good the original blockbuster was. Shivers, in the good way. The Reef was decent. The Meg was pretty exciting. The Mosasaurus in the Jurassic World movies is just plain super cool.

I prefer it when my dangerous sea animals are ANIMALS, and not psychotic monsters. I know that that’s a lot to ask in a modern-day adventure movie. But it’s doable, as seen in the above movies (links go to our reviews – enjoy!).

So, I’m in the middle of my first-time shark movie viewings.

What else is on my Shark Watch list?

I’m told I need to see The Shallows, Deep Blue Sea, and maybe Jaws 2. I’m not so sure about the Sharknado franchise. And there’s one about sharks in a convenience store? There’s a metric ton of shark schlock out there. You tell me what’s good, and I’ll watch it. (Comment section is below, and really, tell me what’s good.)

Movie Grade : B

In case you didn’t know: there’s a sort-of sequel coming out in August (it’s more like a Shared Universe story) called: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. I’ll be there with chum in hand. 🙂

 

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

Movie Review – The Meg

Meet the Real Megalodon

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

This 2010 Aussie shark film should be fairly simple to review, as nothing much happened besides a lot of open ocean swimming. If you’re frightened easily and don’t like horror, don’t worry: you won’t have much trouble watching The Reef. It’s not that kind of movie. I’m not entirely clear what kind of movie this is, actually. A low-budget survival tale with mostly dimwitted people?

There are five folks trapped on top of an upturned ship who have to swim 12 miles in the tropics to reach an unseen island and possible safety. Will they reach it? Does it matter? It’s one of those attrition flicks where you have to guess who’s the last man standing — or swimming, as the case may be. It’s all very predictable, but surprisingly, not scary.

I liked the beginning. It started slow and built up the characters pretty well. It was well-told and well-acted at that point, and the scenery couldn’t be beat.

Nitpicking where I shouldn’t

Unfortunately, once the swimmers hit the water, they devolved into screechy fish bait. That’s not how you cross an ocean safely. I could nitpick the heck out of this. Hanging around the bloody dead people too long isn’t wise (that’s what chum is). Don’t kick up a storm like prey animals either. They also stopped a lot. I kept shouting ,”Keep swimming! But gently! Keep going with less splashing!”

I used to teach wilderness survival  and know something about it, so I’m being harsher on The Reef than most would be. It’s like trying to watch a film like Backdraft with a firefighter. When the one guy who knew something about sailing dove under the ship to retrieve items, I saw a TON of things the survivors could have used that he just ignored. It was a whole sailing ship loaded with DAYS of useful supplies. Arg. Make me stop whining.

What I liked

The plot was lean and easy to follow, and the shark wasn’t absurd — he actually seemed like a real animal instead of an insane monster. And The Reef wasn’t campy or gory. The ‘captain’ character was the guy who kept his head and was worth watching. 

But the ending was…sudden? Underwhelming? Perhaps the real beauty of The Reef is that it’s based on a true story and the producers didn’t feel a need to over-dramatize anything. These things happen. It’s tragic (mostly), and you’d never want to live though this. But movie-wise, it’s just on the high end of average. This isn’t like Jaws (an A+ film indeed). Or even The Meg. (We gave that a B-). I still have to see 47 Meters Down (I know, I know, the sequel’s coming). Come to think of it, I want to watch The Shallows and Deep Blue Sea too. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Overall: if you want a high-octane gruesome shark tale, keep looking. There’s plenty of them out there. I actually liked The Reef for its mild plotting…I just didn’t love it.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Jaws Iconic Moments, plus Movie Analysis (videos)


 

Here’s the trailer for 47 Meters Down 2, set to arrive in 2019: