“Dunkirk”

LOUISA: 4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The technical perfection of “Dunkirk” is astounding. The film will literally take your breath away. It’s handsomely shot and directed by Christopher Nolan, a bonafide auteur of the medium who has one of the greatest understandings of the cinematic language, period. This is an eye-popping WWII movie that effectively thrusts audiences right in the middle of a war, creating a shared experience of intense desperation, fear, determination, and heroism.

“Dunkirk” tells the true story of Allied troops and their planned evacuation from the French city. With Nazi forces quickly closing in, these brave men are quickly running out of time. The drama is told from the perspective of three different soldiers: a grunt on the ground (Fionn Whitehead), a steadfast pilot in the air (Tom Hardy), and a civilian villager sailing the seas (Mark Rylance) to help rescue some of the 400,000 trapped men.

The performances are moving and satisfying all around, including exceptional supporting turns from Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, and Jack Lowden. I’d like to tell you more about these characters and their motivations, but the visuals are crafted with such exactness that the story and character development take a backseat to Nolan’s showy IMAX cameras.

But maybe there’s a profound point to the stylish minimalism of both the visuals as well as the story (also written by Nolan). We never get the back story of the characters, and some we never even learn their names. These men are soldiers, just another number in just another war. There are long, elegant, and pensive shots of empty beaches, ocean foam, and the helmets of thousands of young men. Its quietly devastating beauty is as overwhelming as it is effective.

See this in 70mm if you can, because the richness of actual film is perfect partner to the cinematography and subject matter. The stunning aerial fight sequences really make you feel as if you are right there along with these British soldiers, and it’s sort of remarkable that Nolan is able to convey the horrors of war with a short run time and a PG-13 rating. “Dunkirk” somehow finds a balance between honoring the bravery of the military yet soundly condemning the act of war.

This is a smart historical WWII film, the antithesis of the big, dumb, loud, superhero summer blockbuster. But there’s a level of sophistication that effectively disguises what this movie really is: ambitious, manipulative Oscar bait.

This is the kind of movie that critics and awards voters love. Yes, the cinematography is stunning but overall, the film isn’t quite as epic as it wants you to believe. The ticking stopwatch in Hans Zimmer’s booming, overwrought score will beat you over the head even more so than Nolan’s overall desire to make an unconventional, almost experimental style war movie (even if you removed its sparse dialogue, I think this would’ve succeeded as a completely silent film). The ending is marred with a bit of hokey sentimentality which may succeed in eliciting tears from the audience, but it is also successful in lessening some of the emotional impact of what came before.

Overall, I highly recommend “Dunkirk” as it is one of the best and most memorable movies of the year. Was I simply mesmerized by the spectacle of it all? Maybe. But as a lover of the visual arts, this is one hell of a stunning war picture.

“Atomic Blonde”

LOUISA:  3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I wanted “Atomic Blonde” to be better than it is, but it is good enough. Just because this movie is a disappointment doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it’s certainly not as great as it wants you to believe. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve seen all of the best parts of the movie, in order. Of course the previews make it look awesome because the studio just showed you the four minute version of the entire film. It’s honest trickery to be sure, but don’t expect any exciting surprises.

The global action thriller, based on Antony Johnston‘s graphic novel series “The Coldest City,” is set in Berlin on the eve of the Wall’s collapse. British spy Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is sent to uncover the identity of a bad guy who’s murdering all the best MI6 agents. Her contact in Germany, David (James McAvoy), may not be as helpful as he seems, and the pair go on a car wrecking, bone crushing sweep through the city.

There’s far too much going on in the confusing plot, and the exceedingly shallow characters don’t help matters. Yes, the fight scenes are strong and the cinematography stylish, but take out the showy elements and you’re left with a garden variety spy thriller that plods along under the weight of its sluggish story. The plot is crammed with too many “gotcha” twists and turns, a lesbian sex scene that feels forced, and standard issue spy thriller twists and turns.

Another problem with the film is that at times it feels like a “Baby Driver” rip-off, complete with stylish action sequences and set pieces set to pop music. Edgar Wright’s breakthrough indie film has cornered the niche market on the use of retro music to choreograph action, and here the booming 80s tunes are distracting and not all that fun. They stick out like a sore thumb and make zero narrative sense. The worst offender being a fight sequence set to George Michael’s “Father Figure,” with a climax that coincides with the ending notes of the song. It’s so hokey that I almost started laughing , something that was definitely an unintended audience reaction.

The pulsating 80s pop soundtrack isn’t even the most annoying storytelling device. This whole project is stylishly smug, with director David Leitch endlessly paying homage to other films (most notably “Inglorious Basterds” and “John Wick”), breaking the fourth wall, inserting silly combat sound effects, and showing off with mood lighting and splashy camera angles. He even inserts a vintage MTV clip of Kurt Loder discussing sampling music (“is it stealing?”) as yet another “hey, look at me!” ego-feeding wink.

Despite these major flaws, audiences will flock to see a female character beat bad guys to a bloody pulp with her bare hands. You’ve most likely heard rave reviews about the hallway scene: it’s good, but not great. The fight scenes overall are strong but hardly as spectacular as the film wants them to be. Sadly, they get super repetitive because the fight choreography is almost identical from scene to scene. If you’re looking for some good fistfights, this won’t disappoint you. It’s also super satisfying to see a woman in her 40s hold her own as a kick-ass action hero.

There’s enough to like about “Atomic Blonde” that it’s not a total disaster, and most scenes the feature McAvoy are wholly entertaining. Theron proves she can carry a badass chick film on her back with enough attitude and toughness to spare. Lower your expectations and it’s an enjoyable enough night at the movies.

“The Hero”

LOUISA: 4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I was blown away by the melancholy beauty that is “The Hero,” the story of an aging actor (Sam Elliott) coming to terms with his own mortality. It’s a theme that’s been done hundreds of times before, but somehow this story manages to feel fresh.

Hollywood legend Lee Hayden (Elliott) is an aging Western screen icon with decades of beloved performances under his belt. With his glory days well behind him, Lee spends his afternoons getting high with his neighbor Jeremy (Nick Offerman), accepting low rent fan awards in the ballroom at the Holiday Inn, and daydreaming about days gone by.

After a routine checkup, Lee learns that he has a very fatal form of cancer and he begins to struggle to right many of the wrongs of his past. Now filled with regret over a failed marriage and a severed relationship with his estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter), he attempts to break down the wall of solitude he’s built for himself and begin living life to the fullest — including starting a whirlwind relationship with a decades younger, spunky stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon).

The basic plot is very straightforward but never feels forced. Brett Haley and Marc Basch, the team behind 2015’s fantastic “I’ll See You In My Dreams” (ranked #13 on my list of the very best films of that year), have written a strong, fully developed, and very complex character. The dialogue is true blue in its honesty, boosted by a quiet and thoughtful performance from Elliott. There’s great acting all around, with a talented supporting cast that complements the true tender poetry of Elliott’s understated lead performance.

I give serious props to Prepon for tackling the role of Charlotte because it’s a casting choice that could’ve felt more icky than powerful. She lends a refreshing take on the May – December romance and for once, there’s a younger woman who is interested in an older man not for his money or status, but because she is truly in love.

There are weighty themes at play throughout but this film isn’t a standard issue tearjerker. It’s elegantly photographed by cinematographer Rob Givens and the direction from Haley is just as lovely. “The Hero” is a beautiful, moving film that’s one of my favorites so far this year.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

LOUISA: 4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

It’s long been claimed that George Lucas famously “borrowed” (read: “stole”) many of the ideas that were originally presented in the decades-old French comic book series “Valérian and Laureline,” written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. When watching the new Luc Besson directed film based on those comics, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” you’ll definitely notice many parallels with the “Star Wars” films. But remember: the Frenchmen did it first.

Fans of Besson will be giddy with excitement because the film feels like he was able to let it all hang out, creatively speaking. It’s weird, it’s boisterous, it’s intoxicating, and it’s a wildly imaginative take from a man who has a noticeable, over-the-top adoration for the genre. I cannot imagine anyone else in the director’s seat for this outrageously exaggerated (if sometimes flawed) visual spectacle.

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are agents charged with maintaining order throughout the galaxy. The film puts them in all sorts of wild adventures and predicaments (where it does briefly overstay its welcome with a too long two hours plus run time), but the story never lags until its final 15 minutes and even then, it’s still entertaining as all get-out. While it’s true that the performances aren’t great (although I did very much enjoy Ethan Hawke‘s brief cameo as a space pimp), it truly doesn’t matter: the awesome visual effects are the real superstar of this film.

Calling the effects incredible or flawless isn’t doing them any justice. The set pieces are truly beyond imagination, filled with a colorful and visionary innovation that is a real feast for the eyes. From the stunning space age costumes to the breathtaking sequences (including one particular gorgeously unforgettable bit in an alternate dimension marketplace), this is thrilling eye candy in the greatest sense. This is yet another substantial entry into this summer’s roll call of innovative films with impeccable special effects.

There’s a lot of hate for this movie and yes, the plot could be more focused and the performances can come across as quite lackluster at times, but I think some critics are simply being far too harsh, especially when it comes to Besson’s lead casting choices. It’s interesting because DeHaan and Delevingne are two extremely unlikable and unappealing actors, yet when paired together something magical happens. You may hate them apart but you’ll love them together.

There’s this detached, aloof chemistry that works tenfold and, despite the squawking chorus of thousands of fanboy critics who will vehemently disagree, I find this film to be perfectly cast. No, DeHaan isn’t a larger than life sci-fi hero, but it’s his understated presence that allows him to willingly sit in the passenger seat while the visual spectacle outshines just about everything else in the film.

No doubt “Valerian” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re into the sheer beauty and artistry of movies or energetic, rousing sci-fi, you may just love it as much as I did.

“Wish Upon”

LOUISA: 2 STARS MATT:2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Girl finds mysterious Chinese wishing box. Girl makes shallow wishes. People around her die. That’s all you really need to know about “Wish Upon,” a lame scarer aimed at the preteen Disney set. The recycled plot isn’t the worst thing in the horror world, but the movie’s timid attempt at horror comes close. Can you really call a movie like this “disappointing” when you expect nothing from it in the first place?

The perpetually irritating Joey King is Clare, an unpopular high schooler dealing with being bullied by mean girls and being constantly embarrassed by her dumpster diving dad (Ryan Phillippe). People close to Clare (but not too close) begin dying in supposedly horrific ways after she makes lame wishes with her magic demon box. It takes her quite a while to catch on to what’s happening, but even the carnage doesn’t stop her from making more demands of the box.

One thing the film gets right is the type of wishes a teenage girl would make, even after realizing they all have a “blood price.” World peace? A cure for cancer? Eradicating hunger across the globe? Nah, she instead chooses to be rich, popular, and idolized by the dreamboat in third period.

Looking for suspense and real terror? You aren’t going to find it here. There’s nothing horrifying about this story and the blood and gore is as tame as they come. I suppose this would be a good “starter” PG-13 horror film for an eleven year old. There aren’t even that many cheap jump scares and the only thing that builds suspense are the hints about the method in which people close to Clare will die (although this sort of tease was done much better in “Hot Tub Time Machine” with the armless bellhop). My emotional detachment from the characters grew so rapidly that I didn’t care who lived or died.

This film isn’t fun at all and would be better suited as a direct to video release. The camp (including a ridiculous scene of Phillippe playing a saxophone) isn’t intentional or entertaining, and the movie never gets so lousy that it becomes funny — it just remains lousy.

MATT SAYS:

You want a horror movie like “The Box” but that’s made specifically to appeal to teens? Be careful what you wish for, because you just might end up with a toothless, PG-13 retread of a story that’s already been done countless times. And that’s precisely what we got with “Wish Upon.”

The most frustrating thing about “Wish Upon” is the protagonist, Clare Shannon (Joey King) takes a maddeningly long time to figure out that her wishes have a terrible price. Wish after wish, she starts to realize that things aren’t working out precisely as she had hoped, and at the same time she starts losing friends and family members. But somehow she never puts two and two together and continues making the same mistake over and over again. And, while we as the audience continue to become more and more frustrated with Clare’s stupidity, we are still expected to sympathize with her — a difficult task.

So we have an unsympathetic protagonist hell-bent on repeating her past mistakes; do the horror elements of the story redeem the film? Sadly, not really. The only interesting death is spoiled by the trailer, and the PG-13ness of it really neuters its effectiveness.

For teenagers looking to get out of the house for the summer, “Wish Upon” might be just entertaining enough to justify going to the theater. Everyone else should skip it.

“Band Aid”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I often complain that indie films would be so much better with tons of editing, and once again it’s true with “Band Aid,” an intensely personal movie from filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones. Jones wrote and directed this intimate story, but oh how I wish someone had helped her shave about 20 minutes off the run time. This film is only 94 minutes but it feels like a six hour miniseries, and I guarantee you’ll be worn out by the end.

The story centers around Uber driver Anna (Lister) and her lazy husband Ben (a perfectly cast Adam Pally), a millennial couple who simply can’t stop fighting — about everything. After a particularly knock-down drag-out f-bomb fueled yelling match, they decide to turn their arguments into songs and soon form a garage band with weirdo next door sex addict neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen). The premise sounds goofy and fun, but this isn’t a feel good comedy.

The film takes a dark turn when it becomes clear that the couple’s constant bickering only scratches the surface of something far more tragic, where it then rolls into a study of monumental, unspoken grief. While this shift should feel natural and effortless, it comes across as stiff with a forced sentimentality usually reserved for the worst theatrical movies of the week. This entire movie is caustic in every way possible, even when it succeeds at mustering up some laughs.

Lister seems to be quite full of herself as a triple threat writer, actor and director, but her obvious love for her own material has blinded her across all departments. When you have such a strong personal investment in a project, it often becomes difficult to know what to put in and what to leave out — and Lister needed to leave out a lot. Because there’s so much stuffed in each scene, the film suffers and becomes a bit of a bore.

Armisen adds some genuine comic relief but his character seems so out of place that it’s like he stumbled onto the wrong set and belongs in a different movie altogether. Pally is great as always, and this role will prove to serve him well on his rise to indie darling status.

“Band Aid” is still a mildly successful movie overall and if you’re a fan of intimate, personal stories, this one is worth seeing. But be forewarned that this is more of a feel-bad exercise than an enjoyable, fun rom-com.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

If you want the good news before the bad, here it goes: Tom Holland, following in the footsteps of the home run that Marvel has earned from its casting decisions, is the perfect Spider-Man. The studio suits finally got it right with him, and he fits the character with a charming immaturity that is so charismatic you can’t help but love him. I wish I had more positive things to say about “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” but that’s where the glowing praise is going to end.

At least this is the best Spider-Man movie of the entire series (which isn’t saying much). It took six (yes, six!) screenwriters to put together this story, which in itself should start those alarm bells ringing in your ears. “Homecoming” attempts to give a fresh take on the franchise by exploring Peter Parker’s new transition into a serious superhero. Instead of parading Peter’s elaborate back story, the film assumes that its audience is already familiar enough with the origin of the character (which is fantastic).

The timeline of this story picks up with Peter living in New York City with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). He has an internship of sorts for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and is thrilled to be taken seriously in his fancy new technologically advanced suit (also courtesy of Mr. Stark). As he attempts to navigate the pains of high school life with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) while struggling to balance his new crime fighting alter-ego, Peter discovers a new weapons hungry villain called the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and gets in way over his head when he tries to single-handedly save the day.

The movie creates an atmosphere that’s overtly geared toward a preteen audience, and there’s not one thing wrong with that. But while the movie is entertaining enough, something just seems totally “off” about the whole thing. First there’s a forced multicultural aspect that is super obvious and distracting in its desperation to appear all-inclusive (look at the “Fast & Furious” franchise for sincere, organic multicultural casting). Second, there are several examples of dialogue that seem hell bent on offending or poking fun at the core adult nerd audience of comic book based films, like when Stark takes a snarky dig at fanboy writers (“these are real reporters too, not bloggers”). Some of the sarcasm works well, and most of it comes courtesy of Captain America (Chris Evans) in a series of very funny PSA videos.

What wrecked the movie for me is how fake Spider-Man looks when he’s swinging through the air and cutting back flips all over town. Look, if animators can make the most incredible realistic looking talking chimps in “War for the Planet of the Apes,” then surely these artists can animate Spider-Man so he doesn’t look like a low budget cartoon. The handful of effects that aren’t a complete failure are just so rowdy and noisy that they get lost in the spectacle.

I’ve never been a fan of Spider-Man and this film failed to win me over. I know many of you love the web slinging superhero and if you do, you’ll probably love this film and its new direction. When you see the movie, make sure you stay until the very end of the credits for a good laugh — although I think dry irony still looks the best on Deadpool.

“Beatriz at Dinner”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I can wholly appreciate what screenwriter Mike White and director Miguel Arteta are attempting to convey with their mildly incendiary satire “Beatriz at Dinner,” but it’s just too bad that neither could figure out a rewarding ending for this political drama. The story of a Mexican immigrant (Salma Hayek) who finds herself uncomfortably thrust into position as a guest at a 1%-ers dinner party is not exactly enjoyable, but it sure is unforgettable.

Hayek is Beatriz, a kind and hardworking immigrant from a very poor town in Mexico. She has a spiritual sensibility and promotes natural healing and massage to aid cancer patients in Los Angeles. After making a massage house call to the mother (Connie Britton) of one of her former patients, her car breaks down and she is invited to stay the night — and join the group for their business dinner party. The evening’s guests include a cutthroat, endangered species slaughtering billionaire (John Lithgow) and a young couple celebrating their newfound wealth (Jay Duplass and Chloë Sevigny), environment be damned. These are pretty damn unlikable white people and as the lone truly kindhearted person, never mind her plain clothes and instantly being mistaken for “the help,” Beatriz is already the odd man out.

This is a very interesting idea for a film, and it’s as timely as it is disarming. Add this to another in the long list of fantastic performances from Hayak, an actress who is coming into her own lately. Here she has an alarmingly intense yet soft delivery that gives a great sense of what it feels like to be a true outsider among the elite. It’s a fish out of water tale that, while it’s undeniably a liberal fantasy story, is sure to spark many heated discussions.

Think of it as being a little preachy but with a whisper of subversiveness. This isn’t an action-packed film where much really happens on the surface, but its clear condemnation of the detrimental aspects of capitalism and the loss of basic human decency in the ‘Age of Trump’ are themes that I wish weren’t as relevant as they are. That being said, the movie could’ve done so much more to bring the point home.

The film’s breezy 83 minute run time means nothing ever feels slow, and watching as the interactions between the “haves” and the “have-not” start to take their toll on Beatriz’s mental state feels unrelentingly real. Lithgow’s slimy criminal real estate developer is a man you instantly hate as soon as he appears onscreen, and the evening grows more uncomfortable as drinks are consumed and truths are no longer left unspoken.

The film unfortunately ends with an unsatisfying (yet haunting) conclusion that feels more like the screenwriter was flailing around and scrambling for ideas at how to bookend a final chapter on his story than something profound. The finished product is executed well enough, but I left wanting so much more.

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“War for the Planet of the Apes” thankfully isn’t just another reheated, inarticulate summertime sequel. This is movie isn’t exactly tons of fun, but it is a sci-fi project that’s culturally relevant, philosophical, and considerably dark. The third chapter in the popular rebooted franchise is also thoughtful and smart, with some mindless fiery action hero explosion fun thrown in to keep audiences engaged.

This time around we find Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his charges hiding out in the forest to escape the war that’s raging with the humans. After a ruthless, psychotic Colonel (Woody Harrelson) discovers the hidden camp and wipes out many of the apes, Caesar vows to seek revenge. What he discovers when they finally meet face to face is a death camp for his species, and a struggle for the future of the planet ensues.

Summer blockbuster audiences are going to be sorely disappointed if they are expecting a literal “war.” This isn’t a nonstop battle movie with apes and humans going at it, it’s more of a psychological drama that’s excessively preachy and heavy-handed. There are far from subtle allusions to the inhumanity of slavery, the Bible, and the Holocaust, and the story crosses the fine line between homage and rip-off when it comes to both “The Great Escape” and “Apocalypse Now.” There isn’t much originality in the story — the filmmakers saved that for the special effects.

The film is a visual feast that relishes in being a true show-off (as it has every right to do, because this movie looks incredible). The sophistication of CGI in this film is in a class of its own. The apes look and feel real, to the point where you’ll never begin to take pause and question why you’re rooting for them to emerge victorious over your own species.

Aside from the breathtaking special effects, this one isn’t exactly a complete winner. Harrelson’s mentally unhinged Colonel is a great character that doesn’t have nearly enough screen time. Then there’s the strange Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), a sort of comic relief character to soften the monkey torture going on in the next scene. We’re introduced to both Cornelius and Nova (Amiah Miller), which will delight fans of the retro Charlton Heston movies, but neither has much to do here.

Most disappointing is that the more thoughtful aspects of the film are all but wiped away with the end escape sequence, which is filled with dumbed down, unsubtle, Michael Bay-esque show-off shots like one of a giant grenade-strapped ape escaping from his one-dimensional evil human captors via a burning American flag with huge explosions all around. Yes, this really happens. Not joking.

If mainstream audiences aren’t already alienated by the gradual pacing and profound nature of the poignant narrative, those who aren’t too keen on reading subtitles will also hate this one because it’s captioned almost as much as a foreign film. The apes spend the majority of the film speaking through sign language. I feel this is worth mentioning because I remember years ago when half of my audience got up and walked out of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” because they didn’t want to have to read during the movie. (To that I say: get over yourselves).

While “War for the Planet of the Apes” might not be the traditional mindless fun blockbuster you’re expecting, it’s worth seeing for the visual effects alone. I’ve never seen a movie that looks quite like this, and the technical achievements are truly astounding.

MATT SAYS:

Finally, a rebooted POTA movie with an actual beginning, middle, and end. Unlike the other two films in this new take on the franchise, “War for the Planet of the Apes” doesn’t focus solely on wowing us with computer-generated ape effects and instead works on the fundamentals — like telling a compelling story. I found myself quite engrossed in the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the conflict between his group of apes and a small human fighting force led by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson).

Moreover, this was the first of these films that felt true to the original POTA series. As a fan of those movies, I very much enjoyed some of the backstory-filling references, which helped explain how this group of apes led to the ones Taylor met up with in the first film.

These motion-capture apes are (for the most part) convincingly lifelike and their motivations sympathetic. While there are some moments that appeal to the lowest common denominator — mostly those featuring Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who serves as the comic relief — for an effects-laden summer blockbuster, “War for the Planet of the Apes” was pretty darned enjoyable.

“47 Meters Down”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

It’s always curious when a super low budget movie does well at the box office, and the killer shark flick “47 Meters Down” is, by all accounts, a big success. The project was slated to be a direct to video release but when the studio suits decided to take a chance and put it in theaters, the gamble paid off. So what does this tell us? That summer audiences will never tire of movies reminding them “don’t go in the water.”

Sisters Kate (Claire Holt) and Lisa (Mandy Moore) are enjoying a relaxing vacation in Mexico when they are convinced by two cute local boys to try out cage diving. Wanting to live a little, the two decided to get up close and personal with the giant local sharks and hop on a rickety boat with sketchy tour operator Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine). This wouldn’t be a movie unless something goes wrong: the cable breaks and the girls are trapped inside the cage as it plummets 47 meters down onto the ocean floor.

The script is basic and most of the dialogue does nothing but state the obvious (we are reminded at least two dozen times that the oxygen tanks are dangerously low and they are soon going to “run out of air!”). The passable acting is as mediocre as you’d expect from a cast of bargain basement actors, but it doesn’t matter much because these are thinly developed characters. Think of it as a low budget B-movie with D-list actors and crappy CGI sharks.

Director Johannes Roberts stretches his modest $5 million budget to the limit, and it actually works well with the material. That means this isn’t action packed as most of the movie takes place with the two female leads trapped underwater in a cage and communicating via radio. The dark, murky water is perfect for obscuring the phony looking animated sharks — as well as the entry level acting.

The scenario is terrifying yet this PG-13 film isn’t very thrilling or even that scary, but there’s enough to keep teen girls squealing and newbies to the genre entertained. (For those of you who are pure horror fans, this should be on your “skip” list). It goes on a little too long (yes, even for its very short 89 minutes) and quickly gets super repetitive, and a lame attempt at a “gotcha” ending fizzles fast. But this is a nightmare scenario that’ll make most viewers swear off cage diving forever. And for that, I’d say it’s a mildly successful killer shark movie.

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