Under Paris – Review


Under Paris is a French production that has gone straight to Netflix in the UK and other countries, and I believe it got a short cinema run in France. I’d heard about this film but I hadn’t paid much attention to it- I have to be honest, despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of sharks, I’m not as much of a fan of shark movies, they just never seem to take into account shark science and have to really resort to sci-fi nonsense to make it work- or at least make up for the fact that they’re making up a reason as to why the sharks are going nuts.

I think they often don’t understand that one of the things that made Jaws work was the fact that we went for quite long periods in that film where there were no kills. Before I tell you, think about how many characters die in Jaws. I’ll tell you: it’s only 5! It has a very reserved body count. Technically, it was meant to be slightly higher, but go and read about the film’s production or watch some videos about it and you’ll find out why.

Under Paris got my attention because a lot of people were saying it was the best shark movie since Jaws, and granted, that’s not a very high bar- but I wanted to see it and decide for myself.

If I had to say what I felt was the best shark movie since Jaws was, I would have to go with the Australian film Open Water (2003) which really showed the realism, or the Blake Lively movie The Shallows (2016) which I previously reviewed, – even though I don’t understand why the shark wants to attack the humans when there was a perfectly good whale carcass…

Under Paris does have an English dub, but I wouldn’t recommend it, since the lip synching is terrible, so I would recommend watching this with subtitles. I only made it a few minutes through the movie before I made the swap.

I don’t want to give away too much of what happens, but the basic plot is about a shark scientist, who after losing her entire team including her husband to a shark attack, is called in to investigate another potential shark in the river, who also might be using the catacombs.

Despite what some people have said, it’s not really doing many things different from other shark movies. They do resort to a lot of sci-fi nonsense later on, which I don’t think justifies it, and they don’t explain why saltwater sharks are suddenly able to survive in a river- which, yeah, it’s deep, but it’s not that deep. Before anyone brings up that whale that swam up the Thames, I’ll remind you that it didn’t live!

It borrows quite a few beats from Jaws, particularly from the Mayor of Paris, who is trying not to create a panic before a major triathlon (this film was obviously trying to coincide with the upcoming Paris Olympics, which they do mention, but probably couldn’t get the licence to include it in the film).

I found it interesting where the antagonistic aspect of this film comes from, and I’ll be interested to see how audiences take this, considering while the mayor is one of the main bad guys in this movie, she kind of becomes a secondary bad guy, and it becomes an ecological group who became the antagonists. They basically feel like a mix between PETA and Just Stop Oil. While I don’t think the portrayal is meant to attack those groups, since I think that their inclusion is meant to show how arrogance blinds you to dangers, I certainly wonder how it’s going to play out- especially considering how the protagonists of this film are some shark scientists and a bunch of police officers.

As for the shark effects, they’re fine. It’s obvious for most of the movie that it’s CGI, but it looks good. The sharks definitely look as though they fit in the environment for the most part, and some of the scenes in the catacombs are really tense as a result of how good the effects are, which is backed up by this film’s soundtrack, which I found excellent.

Here’s the thing, I don’t think that this film succeeds in several regards. While I do think they’ve done an excellent job with practical effects, some of them look a bit ropey, especially in a bright setting. One kill in particular looked really ridiculous.

The triathlon aspect towards the end of the film felt like a contrivance of ‘how do we get a load of people to be swimming in the river to up the body count?’. Despite the fact that they try to bring in some shark science, it does eventually turn back into typical movie monsters.

That being said, this has one of the most bat-shit insane endings to a shark movie I have ever seen, and I think that’s one of the things that is a major strength of the movie, but I do also wonder if this is meant to be a cap off to the storyline or if it’s a build to a potential franchise.

Is Under Paris the best shark movie since Jaws? Maybe. I don’t really want to say at this point, since I think there are a lot of aspects that I don’t like along with aspects that I do like- though I think it’s better than 47 Metres Down and is at least on the level of The Shallows. It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong, I think the team has done an excellent job, the performances are good, and if you like shark movies, this will fit in very well but for my personal taste I’m not sure how I’ll feel about this movie in a few years’ time. But if I had to say right now. I think that this film is pretty good, but I wouldn’t describe it as great.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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