Into the Blue 2: The Reef
At one point of Into the Blue 2: The Reef, I thought it was going to be a commentary about how humans are destroying the oceans. In the first Into the Blue, the water was populated with all sorts of creatures, and the highlights of the film were the shots underwater. In this film, the ocean is such a drab and boring place, populated by the characters diving into it, and the shadow of a shark or fish every now and then.
It turns out that this isn't the case, and instead, the oceans aren't populated for another reason. What that reason is never gets explained. Maybe it's because people are dramatically impacting the fish population. Maybe the director, Stephen Herek, decided to try to film without much wildlife so that we'd get to see the actors more. For whatever reason, the fish that were so much fun to spend time with from the first film are gone in its sequel. Actually, calling it a sequel is deceptive, because apart from the basic idea of "diving to find treasure," nothing returns from the first Into the Blue. The locale is different, the actors didn't return, and the plot contains no elements or references from earlier.
In fact, I'm not sure why this film is called a sequel. If it was to make money, well, just look at the box office receipts from the first film. It didn't make a lot of money, and releasing this one directly to home video with no advertisement probably won't make much either. I suppose giving it some sort of name recognition might help, and calling it a sequel might make completionists feel compelled to watch it (this would be why I am), but for the general public, I don't quite understand the strategy here.
The plot: There is another couple, slightly resembling the main couple from the last film. Their names are Sebastian (Chris Carmack) and Dani (Laura Vandervoot). They're approached one day by two tourists, Carlton (David Anders) and Azra (Marsha Thomason). It's time to look for treasure, as our leads are hired for a week of diving, hoping to find the lost ship of the San Caristobal. We even get some exposition telling us the legend of this ship, because apparently that matters somehow. I understood why that happened in the last film, because the legend, which involved a tale of love vs. greed, was one of the central themes. This time, it's a story for the sake of eating up time.
That's fine, because it's sometimes nice to know what we're going after and why it's important. However, the plot gets switched around when we learn that Carlton and Azra aren't actually looking for this ship, and are instead looking for cargo which we learn was thrown overboard prior to us joining the story. We learned about the cargo in our first scene, which established villains, but Carlton and Azra seem trustworthy enough, and since they weren't in the opening scene, they must be looking for the cargo to keep it away from the bad guys, right?
You get no prizes for guessing how the plot will pan out. If this was any less surprising, I might have been shocked at the sheer audacity of the filmmakers for playing it as safe as they did. But instead, we get a cookie-cutter plot that functions but is nothing special. There are twists, and if you don't watch a lot of movies, you'll be surprised. If you do, there will be one moment that will probably be unforeseen. It involves a certain character being killed off, although since that character wasn't particularly important, it's hard to care.
What might astonish you is that there's also a subplot included in Into the Blue 2. It involves Sebatian and Dani's friends, Mace (Michael Graziadei) and Kimi (Mircea Monroe). They fight a bunch; Mace always seems to be "misunderstood" but Kimi, which usually leads to these fights. So they fight, break up, reconcile, and get back together only to repeat the cycle. Wait, I said this was a subplot. My mistake. It doesn't go anywhere and ends up wasting our time. Just like I did while describing it. Does that feel good? No? Well that's what seeing this part of the film feels like.
Caught in the act, buddy.
The conflict between the main characters is gone as well. One of the bright spots of Into the Blue was how the characters would debate amongst themselves before choosing a course of action. Here, there's no discourse; one character will say what's going to happen, and then that's what everyone does. Even if you don't have well-developed characters, having this kind of dialogue gives off that illusion. Into the Blue 2 makes it apparent that there are no characters -- there are only vessels that look good in swimsuits.
I didn't have a lot of fun with Into the Blue 2: The Reef, even if it did accomplish its goal of getting attractive people into (and in this one, sometimes out of) their bathing suits. But the plot is routine, the characters have no depth, and even the once-plentiful fish have been taken away, making the ocean feel devoid of life. It also has a ton of unnecessary moments that do nothing but pad the runtime. The interesting conversations between the characters are also nonexistent, making you easily realize how lifeless these characters are. On the whole, it's not a film that you have any reason to watch.
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