Wednesday 24 January 2018

Movie reviews: 47 Metres Down, Girls Trip, The Farthest

  • 47 Metres Down (15A, 85 mins) ★★★
  • Girls Trip (16, 122 mins HH ★★
  • The Farthest (PG, 121 mins) ★★★★★
Great fright: 47 Metres Down has some clever twists and turns
Great fright: 47 Metres Down has some clever twists and turns

Paul Whitington

No one in their right mind sets out to make the definitive shark movie. It's been done already, and 47 Metres Down at least has the good sense to realise this and have a bit of fun. As anyone who saw Blake Lively getting lumps bitten out of her in last year's summer shocker The Shallows will know, it's still not safe to go back in the water.

You'd think nubile young females would have got that message by now, but in Johannes Robert's brisk and efficient thriller, they're at it again.

Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on holiday in Mexico when Lisa suggests a life-affirming challenge - they will hire a boat and go cage-diving with sharks. The boat turns out to be a leaky tub, the diving cage looks like a rusty shopping trolley, and the cables that support it groan ominously in the slightest breeze. But the two women shrug their shoulders, don the air tanks and step inside.

Chum is ladled, sharks present themselves and one giant great white seems particularly keen on prizing open this human tin can when the cables snap and the cage plummets to the ocean floor. How deep? Forty-seven metres, where the sisters find themselves in a right old quandary.

It's a simple idea, but an effective one, and Mr Roberts strings it out for 85 minutes with some clever twists and turns. You will learn nothing, but may enjoy yourself.

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American reviews of Girls Trip have been overwhelmingly positive and, on paper, there's a lot to like. All the lead characters are black women in their 40s, the comedy revolves around their various personal dilemmas, and for once the men are the decorative sidekicks. It's been hailed by some as the black Bridesmaids, but this is both vaguely patronising and well wide of the mark.

In that film, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy took on the sacred tropes of frat boy comedies and proved definitively that women can be every bit as vulgar and venal as men. They did so, however, with disarming charm, and struck a fine balance between grossness and comedy. In Girls Trip, charm is sadly lacking, along with wit, and any kind of restraint.

On the surface, life is going swimmingly for self-help author and media star Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall). She's married to a dashing former athlete (Mike Colter) and is about to sign a lucrative deal to host a TV show when three ghosts from her past turn up to point out a few home truths.

In her college days, Ryan got up to all sorts of mischief with her three best friends Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish). But in recent years, the 'Flossy Posse' have grown distant and to mend fences Ryan invites her to accompany them on a promotional trip to New Orleans. There, all inhibitions will be temporarily lifted as the ladies air their various mid-life crises and indulge in wild excess.

It starts out tolerably enough and Haddish is genuinely funny as the terrifyingly uninhibited Dina. But the male appendage looms large (sometimes literally) as a source of desperate humour, and the longer it goes on, the louder and shriller Girls Trip becomes.

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And finally, a word about The Farthest, Emer Reynolds' magnificent account of the creation of Voyager I, a Nasa space probe launched in 1977 with the noble aim of introducing ourselves to extraterrestrials. Using technology less sophisticated than a modern car key fob, scientists created a flying orb that was both cultural repository and a close observer of everything it passed.

Over the decades, magnificent photos of Saturn, Jupiter and their moons have been beamed back by the little war horse, which has just entered interstellar space. As one scientist says, Voyager "may, in the long run, be the only evidence that we ever existed". There's a sobering thought.

Irish Independent

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