Lauren: I don’t know about you, but when asked what my favorite holiday is there’s no doubt in my mind. It’s not Halloween, it’s not the 4th of July, it’s Shark Week. And like another joyous holiday season, Shark Week comes bearing gifts: I saw a man (who’s no stranger to shark attacks having already lost an arm and a leg himself) tear open a bag of human blood in the ocean water around him just to see what the sharks would do, I’ve joined the fandom of Deep Blue, the girthiest 20+ foot great white the sea has to offer, I’ve been reminded of how terrifyingly awe inspiring great whites are by witnessing Deep Blue’s nimbler brothers and sisters ambush seals from the depths through Polaris breaches, and I’ve laughed at the expense of Shaquille O’Neal as the safety of his cage was nullified when a young shark got trapped inside with him (ok this was a re-airing of a special from last year, but I couldn’t not mention it).
But that’s not to say the week went by without some coal. Unfortunately, the worst thing I saw during Shark Week 2019 wasn’t the innards of a cow being spilled by feasting tiger sharks, it was Capsized: Blood in the Water.
Ben: I think the best way I can summarize my feelings about Shark Week’s first original movie is by saying “I’d be more than okay if it was the last.”
I was really excited for this movie, which is a dramatized version of a true story of five people lost at sea for days, but I can’t help thinking it could’ve used a little more dramatization. Capsized: Blood in the Water makes no effort to ensure we care about the characters, their plight, or anything else in this movie. Maybe I would’ve been more invested had we gotten more intense shark action, but we barely get anything with this predator that is supposed to be a constant threat. I can’t say the film does anything that’s truly terrible, but that’s only because it doesn’t really do anything at all. I watched it TODAY, and I’m already struggling to remember most of it.
Lauren: To put it simply, this movie isn’t fun to watch. Two of the five characters are instantly unlikeable (and I was questioning everyone’s sanity long before the seawater was swallowed for allowing a completely unreliable drunkard aboard the tiny vessel), and it only gets worse when they’re stranded at sea. Let’s just say the protagonist in Life of Pi got off easy when confined to a lifeboat with a hungry Bengal tiger because it is incapable of constantly shouting “oh God oh God we’re all gonna die,” at least. In reality I’m sure I would be just as overwhelmed by the insurmountable odds of survival in this hellish situation, honestly I’d probably be screaming right along with Mark in my breaks from hyperventilating, but I’m not. I’m sitting on a couch watching a movie with one of the most obnoxious caricature representations of everything not to do when out at sea. And it’s unbearable.
Ben: I’m still trying to figure out why this was made for Shark Week, because there are barely any sharks in it. There’s a kitchen appliance that has a body count almost as high as the sharks (an event slightly altered for the adaptation) in this movie, and that’s ridiculous. There are a few shots of them swimming around here and there, but they are far, far less intimidating than the threat of dehydration or starvation. Tons of other movies have done the “ticking clock with a predator circling” schtick (Rogue, The Shallows, 47 Meters Down, Crawl, etc.), but I’ve never been this bored while watching one. I was glad every time a commercial break came on because it meant the film itself was shorter and I could do something, anything, else sooner.
Lauren: Seriously, the commercial breaks were godsent; though they were also a guilt trip because Capsized would repeatedly remind us that “the following is based on a true story of survival in shark infested waters” every time our brief reprieve ended. These were real people, and just because this movie shows about as much love for Mark as work went into making the actors look sunburnt (which is to say, next to none), I should try harder to not be flippantly callous in regards to the survival of these individuals. So, on the one hand I’m happy there were fewer shark attacks because it meant the odds of survival were increased, but on the other hand, inaction does not make a good film. It’s just a whole lot watching those who are irritatingly throwing tantrums, those glowering at said grown children, and a whole lot of nothing else.
Ben: You make a good point. I don’t mean to belittle the trials these people went through, but this adaptation of what I can only imagine was an absolutely terrifying experience in reality was presented in a way that felt nowhere near as harrowing as it should have, and it probably did everyone a disservice by making them seem virtually unlikable. I feel for the real people that suffered through the awful events that Capsized: Blood in the Water was based on, but watching the movie had nothing to do with making me feel that way.
Lauren: Agreed. It wasn’t until we got to the final minutes of the film when photos of the real victims were shown that I felt moved at all, which is why I may pick up one of the books mentioned here. I’d imagine something written by a survivor would be much more effective than this dramatization. As for films, I think I’ll just stick to watching Quint recount his days lost at sea before staring into those lifeless black eyes one last time in Jaws. Or The Shallows. Or 47 Meters Down. Or Open Water. Anything but this.