Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Reef

Loosely based on real life events, this pants wetter is set in the oceans of my sunburnt country; Australia. It's the story of a salty sea dog, Luke (Damien Walshe-Howling) and Kate (Zoe Naylor) who were once and item, and would be again if it wasnt' for that meddling great white. Kate and Luke are on a boat with Kate's brother Matt (Gyton Grantley) and Suzie (Adrienne Pickering) his girlfriend, for a scuba diving trip. After we see some magnificent shots of the beautiful creatures the sea has to offer, things soon turn to less than perfect. The boat capsizes and the four people, along with Captain Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith) are left with an agonizing decision. Do they swim approximately twenty kilometres to where Luke is fairly certain there is an island, or do they stay atop the boat and drift further out to sea? What an horrific dilemma. Three of them decide to trust Luke's navigational skills and swim for land. Warren, a fisherman, knows the waters and what lurks beneath, and chooses to take his chances on the boat. So the four set off, but will they make it? This is no surprise to anyone, but there are sharks involved. Not model sharks, but real footage and CGI generated images. There is plenty of suspense, and the director uses just enough footage to shock, but not too much, based on the safe knowledge that what you fear is worse than what you see, although in this case, both are pretty awful. The tension of the four swimmers, desperately trying to keep it together, whilst living in fear of getting picked off by fishy predators is heart stopping, and heart breaking. The acting and photography is very good, so what stops this movie from being a really enjoyable blockbuster? Jaws is one of my all time favourite movies. The story, the setting, the script (which my sister and I know backwards, sadly) are peerless, time cannot taint it, nor can more sophisticated graphics or special effects beat the great mechanical one as he leaps out of the water to get a mouthful of Brody's chum. It's fun and we all love it when Quint gets his by being chomped in half by his nemesis, because, lets face it, he was a bit of a know it all wasn't he? And a show off. Even knowing that shark attacks happen regularly we loved it, because it wasn't real. This movie, however well crafted, simply feels as if we are voyeurs watching the slow and torturous demise of some very unlucky people. How on earth can I enjoy jumping out of my skin when I know that these people really went through it? I enjoy watching films based on fact. The difference when I watch something like the mighty 'Schindler's List' is that I am being educated. It is horrendous to watch, but there is humanity, and we need to see it, lest we forget. I don't need to see four people in terror of their lives to know that if I jump into a warm ocean, and swim for 20K, chances are I won't come out with all of my limbs intact. I think that's the difference. I even felt a bit guilty watching footage of the shark, because bizarrely it looked really quite cute, and well, a bit sharkey. My other objection is that at one point Kate states that she thinks it's the same shark that's been following them. After the shameful hounding and killing of thousands of sharks by people after Jaws was released (much to Peter Benchley's horror), I think the director was irresponsible to humanise the shark and make it possibly vengeful.
It's a good film, and doesn't run for too long, because, people's abject terror aside, watching four people swimming with floaties for longer than about forty minutes can become a bit tedious.I guess at the end of the day, when the tide goes out, it was all a bit pointless. THE REEF:A big barrier to me going to my local beach for a paddle. 6/10.

1 comment:

  1. Hilarious review!!! As I am that sad sister who knows Jaws as well as you, I'll just say 'the sun is shining & the people are having a wonderful time!' Larry aside, I know that this film would upset me, for the same reasons as you...nature is cruel, that's a fact but we don't need to torture ourselves by watching it. Give me Bruce-the-Fake & Ben Gardner's rubber decapitated green head anytime! Sh sh sh SHARK! IN THE POND!!! xxxxxxxxxxx