Just Who Is The Dominant Species? Movie Review

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'Open Water' is this triathlete’s nightmare because I have a fear of swimming in open water. Not because I can’t swim, but mostly because I can’t see what’s swimming with me in the water.

By Ovetta Sampson

It was a scary proposition. Watch a minimalist, almost made-for-TV movie that’s probably every triathlete’s worst nightmare – being stranded in the ocean with circling sharks.

But I had some time to kill over the holidays and received a new Blockbuster card. I must have walked past the VHS copy of “Open Water,” like ten times. But since I live in the Stone Age and do not have a DVD player and seeing that every other new release was only in DVD I slowly picked up the videotaped copy of “Open Water,” and decided to settle in for the night.
 

MOVIE REVIEW

Movie:Open Water,” written and directed by Chris Kentis and starring Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis.

Venue: On DVD and VHS

For those in the don’t know “Open Water,” from writer/director Chris Kentis, is a movie about a couple who goes scuba diving in some beautiful island country. At the end of their dive the couple emerges from their adventure to see that their scuba tour-guide boat is gone and they’ve been left in the middle of the ocean alone. The movie is based on true events of a real Canadian couple that was never found.

The movie is this triathlete’s nightmare because I have a fear of swimming in open water. Not because I can’t swim, but mostly because I can’t see what’s swimming with me in the water. It’s a mental thing that’s all. 

I can still remember the first open water swim I did last year. It was at the beginning of the tri season. I had bought my lovely Promotions wetsuit. I was looking slim and fine and ready to go. I had been swimming 800 to 1000 meters in the pool nearly everyday and so I was kicking much butt in the water.

But as I stood on the banks of the gravel pond I looked out and thought, am I going to swim across that? It looks so far and so uninviting. I got in the water and swam about 150 meters. I was fine and then BAM! panic attack. I just couldn’t go anymore. I felt like was I going to drown right then and there.

So you see why seeing the movie “Open Water,” may have been a little bit scary for me?

The movie starts out harmlessly enough. Two yuppies, Susan (Blanchard Ryan) and Daniel (Daniel Travis) with cell phones glued to their ears are trying to squeeze in a vacation in between work, being rich and being emotionally unavailable to each other.

After a gratuitous sex scene complete with nudity (seeing Daniel completely naked was more frightening than the sharks!!!), the couple is seen flitting about the island, shopping, drinking and being really shallow.

It’s difficult to like this couple. They’re rich. They’re beautiful. They’re kind of annoying. They’re so annoying that when they get on the scuba tour boat they immediately agree to slink off from the tour and do their own thing.

Being an individual is what this country is built upon. But going along with this group, one might think it is the way to go if you’re scuba diving with some rinky-dink Caribbean tour outfit.

After playing with eels, the couple emerges about 45 minutes passed the hour cut off time. They reach the water’s surface only to see nothing around them. They’ve been left behind.

This, of course, is where the movie gets good. It takes a few minutes for Susan and Daniel to realize they’ve been forgotten. But it isn’t until a few hours later that they realize that they may not survive. Even still, as they sit swirling in the middle of the ocean they exhibit the traits of two clueless yuppies who believe that their money, good looks and knowledge just my get them out of this.

“Can you believe we paid for this,” Daniel shouts, after about four hours in the water. “I can’t believe we’re out here because of your job!”

The blame game then begins. Daniel blames Susan for her job getting in a way and him having to pick some place quickly instead of the true vacation he wanted months later. Susan blames Daniel because he wouldn’t swim when they first realized they were left behind.

“I wanted to go skiing,” she screams petulantly.

I took gleeful delight in these scenes as the couple falls apart. Many reviewers said they hated this movie because the acting wasn’t good, blah, blah. But Ryan and Travis hit the irony of being top of the food chain yet hopelessly at the bottom of the pile in nature. The very action of them arguing over something that is moot exhibits that humanity is more vulnerable than ever.

No matter how long we swim, how much we run, how fit we are, if  you take away our super shoes, wet suits, money, boats, fishing lines, and other mechanisms, plop us in the middle of the mysterious ocean and we’re just shark bait. We’re powerless. No matter what we do our fate is up to the behavior of beings we cannot see, much less understand.

The sharks in “Open Water,” show this point beautifully. Filmed on location about 30 miles out to sea the sharks are the real stars of the movie.

After Susan and Daniel argue themselves into exhaustion and kiss and make up they both drift off to sleep.

Susan wakes abruptly when something rudely bumps into her. Only we the viewers can see it’s a shark. She awakes startled, looking around for Daniel who has floated some 300 meters away. She begins to panic and yells for her boy toy. She also feels a slight pain in the back of her leg, not knowing she’s been stung by jellyfish. She finally finds Daniel and they swim towards each other. As they swim the camera pans under the water and we see a school of jelly fish, beautifully transparent and deadly with their stingers– about 40 are swimming all around them yet they cannot see them at all. They only feel the pain. That’s when you know that we are looking at the beginning of the end.

Soon the sharks make their entrance.

The sharks begin to circle Susan and Daniel who remain oblivious to their presence. Soon they make the circle smaller, with one or two popping up into the couple’s personal space. It’s at this point Susan utters the lame but profound question,

“I don’t know what’s worse seeing them or not seeing them?” she says.

“Seeing them,” Daniel promptly replies, pulling a knife from his ankle pocket.

Soon Daniel feels an incredible pain in his leg. It’s the first shark bite. Daniel seems pissed, as if how the hell can this shark have the nerve to bite me.

That’s when you know the writing on the wall. The couple’s too arrogant to know it.

No matter if it’s jelly fish or a school of 50 or so sharks, the humans are not the king of the domain anymore.

The movie goes on using the ocean as a character, darkness as a prop and the sharks as the stars. You can see the dissolution of Susan and Daniel before they do. In the end they die by giving into the notion that God may have given us dominion over the earth but when we’re in it we need to be cautious that authority doesn’t always mean victory.

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date: January 10, 2005

infosteward

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avatarinfosteward

New biz venture for me check it out: writewaywriting.com
Literature - the big heavies - Wright, Shakespeare, Zora, etc.
Love movies, singing (Karaoke), traveling, swimming, dancing and playing all kinds of card games. Love good food, better wine and even better entertainment.
Help children in poverty. Sponsor a child today.
www.compassion.com

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