Mia and her family have moved from Chicago to Mexico’s Yucatan. As she struggles to acclimate into her surroundings and survives being the school’s most unpopular student, her father flourishes with his archeological findings of an ancient Mayan burial temple hidden under rising waters just off the coast. Mia and stepsister Sasha skip an unflattering weekend boat trip to join friends Alexa and Nicole who are privy to the underwater entrance of the remote ruin. The four use Mia’s father’s scuba gear to go exploring through the numerous narrow passageways and shrined openings of the burial temple, but their innocent adventure turns deadly when the sudden collapse of the entrance traps them inside. As they save every last breathe running dangerously low on oxygen, they come face-to-face with blind, monstrous Great White sharks with heightened senses of smell and hearing to track them down.
Terror has defined new depths with Johannes Roberts’ sequel to his critically praised and genre fan pleasing 2017 shark-horror “47 Meters Down.” Along with the return of screenwriter Ernest Riera and The Fyzz Facility team providing production and financials, Roberts once again dives into the murky waters of deep sea productions with “47 Meters Down: Uncaged,” working mainly underwater once more to capture weightless fear in the eyes of the actors to perform in a tough environment and perform against, what will be, computer generated adversaries. The success of “47 Meters Down” helped stem a sudden revival that swam from being a dwindling and cheap demonizing of sharks that have plagued the direct-to-video market for over a decade to bestowing the respect the man-eating fish rightfully deserve, showcasing that man does not rule the water. “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” continues the trend by chomping serrated jaws through the chummed waters of the great white shark schlock and crest with a heart pounding suspense and scares.
A couple of big names star in the sequel and by big, I don’t mean actresses who are mega superstars in their own rite. What I mean are the well-established and globally recognizable last names of Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone, the respective daughters of Academy Award winning actor and singer Jamie Foxx (“Ray”) and of one of the world’s biggest action stars of our lives, Sylvester Stallone (“Rambo”), debuting into the big time as one-half of the group of girls exploring the underwater temple. Across the aisle, the other two actresses that take a joy swim are Brianne Tju (“The Crooked Man”) and Sophie Nélisse, the latter being the high school oppressed and timid Mia who battles through her adolescent problems by being a leader in the shark infested tunnels. As four girls looking for a good time on the Yucatan, they’re tediously whimsical without the virtue of substance behind them aside from Mia’s brief bullying encounter and heart-to-heart moment with step mom. Joh Corbett is the most recognizable face sans just having a famous name. The “Sex in the City” actor – don’t ask me how I know that – has fatherly intentions in the role of Mia’s dad, the archeologist who discovers the flooded temple. Rounding out the cast is Khylin Rhambo (“Teen Wolf” television series) and Davi Santos (“Polaroid”).
All that is right with “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is the isolating suspense and lurking terror that carries over seamlessly from the first film, despite both films’ pre-judging killjoy that is a PG-13 rating, and with the return of Mark Silk’s beautifully murky cinematography and Roberts’ choice of focal direction that engulfs the actors, the story sharpens to completely detach the real world from this shark threatening one. “47 Meters Down” had an equally beautiful, haunting, and industrially trance score, pitched perfect for the lethal space-like expanse, from Tomandandy and the musical duo return for another round with a broody audio vision that can be taken with you long after the credits roll. However, Roberts’ second installment has some issues. For instance, why keep the initial title? The 47 meters doesn’t exist as the protagonists go up and down through burial shafts without the utilization of a depth meter and could have benefited better with a standalone title. Not even a wet suit is worn so the hunt is not too deep where the frigid waters rules. The trend of those scenes that make you go huh? continue in a form of a plot hole of exactly where did those ghostly Great White sharks come from? There isn’t enough food down in the tight confines to sustain such eating machines, but they don’t seem to be crippled by the fact as they appear from out of nowhere after one of the characters makes their presence noisily known.
Like a persevering slasher, the jaws of death just keep on coming for you in “47 Meters Down” Uncaged” onto a 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD home video, with a digital download available, distributed by Lionsgate. Presented in a widescreen, 2.40:1 aspect ratio, with the Blu-ray BD-50 in 1080p High Definition, the digitally recorded, shot on an Arri Alexa according to IMDB, image captures, through the some fields of darker tints, the warranted definition and enough softness to maximize the aqua effect of a hazy and shadowy sunken ruin with silhouette inducing dark spots, corners, and passageways. Moments of vibrancy pop, especially with emergency beacons, to dazzle like a neon marquee in the pitch-black night sky. The ruin’s sharks themselves, though ghostly depicted and riddled with scaring, appeared too soft, an inescapable side effect from the visual FX team, and the same can be said with the sharks out in the open ocean that have unnatural movements along with their too clean look as if the light above surface wasn’t bouncing off them correctly. The English language 5.1 DTE-HD Master Audio mix has power and girth in an environment where sound is virtually stiffened. The Tomandandy score is absolute and denotes what it means to have an eloquently disruptive soundtrack to peak fear in conjunction with looming, flesh-ripping presences inside a dooming labyrinth. And what impeccable timing to have one of the recently passed Marie Fredriksson’s Roxette tracks showcased as the main song. #RIP Marie. Dialogue is clean and clear in the depthless communications of opened face scuba masks. Audio accessories include an English descriptive audio option, English SDH subtitles, and Spanish subtitles. Par for the course in the Lionsgate special features department with an audio commentary from writer-director Johannes Roberts, co-writer Ernest Riera, and producer James Harris. Plus, interviews with the cast in the making-of featurette entitled “Diving Deeper: Uncaging 47 Meters Down.” “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is far from perfect and nearly drowns with an uncouth story that doesn’t represent Johannes Roberts first film’s good name, but the frenzy-laden successor has high energy, an olfactory for good PG-13 scares, and monstrous sharks that makes for an entertaining and terrifying swim.