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PCR # 232  (Vol. 5, No. 36)  This edition is for the week of August 30--September 5, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Open Water"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Two and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Lion's Gate Films     
Starring: Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis
Directed by: Chris Kentis
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 19 mins

For 29 years, I've answered the question, "What is your favorite film of all time" with one word: "JAWS." I'm sure I'll be giving the same answer for another 29. So, whenever a film comes out that is compared in one way or another with "Jaws," I rush right out to see it. And each time I leave the theatre secure in the knowledge that my all time fave is still number one in my book. In spite of a couple of thrills, "Open Water" pales in comparison to the greatest of all shark tales!

The film begins with a young couple, Susan and Daniel (Ryan and Travis), off on a quick vacation. They have decided to do a little ocean scuba diving and head out, with other divers, on a charter boat. On the way to the dive site, they are warned that there may be sharks in the water with them. When one of the passengers panics, the guide tells her the golden rule of diving: If you don't want to see a shark.......close your eyes!" After a head count is taken, the party is told they have 35 mins to dive. A miscount on one of the boat workers part (he accidentally counts two separate divers twice) causes the boat to depart early, unknowingly leaving Susan and Daniel behind. By the time they surface, the boat is gone and they find themselves surrounded by water. And the creatures that live in it.

Reportedly based on a true story, "Open Water" is a film that plays on our fears. There isn't a person on earth that doesn't think "shark" every time they head to the beach. I know I do! And the fact that the sharks here are real only heightens the thrills.......for a while. At first it's almost voyeuristic watching our young couple bob up and down on the waves. We peer down into the water with them and quietly shudder at the shadows moving below them. Each time a fin surfaces we jump in surprise. Unfortunately that is the extent of the thrills. The film then becomes formulaic. Susan and Daniel float for a while, they see a fin, they argue, they make up. Repeat as necessary. The film becomes a victim of itself. There is nothing else for them to do. It is no fault of the actors, who do a fine job of conveying the fear they are experiencing. Of course, being out in the ocean with real sharks who don't know the meaning of the words "action" or "cut," you have to wonder how much acting was really needed. And maybe I'm the only one who noticed, but the fact that Susan and David had the same last names as the first two victims in "Jaws" was a nice touch and a tribute to the Steven Spielberg classic.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Open Water"  Two and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Open Water" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.