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Busy Baja

Around the World in 80 More Movies includes adventures fishing in Baja California Sur, home to impressive movie locations and stories.

47-Meters Down, 2017 with Mandy Moore meeting the wrong kind of ocean life in Mexican waters. As someone who occasionally sets a rubber-finned foot in the Sea of Cortez, I certainly prefer believing that writers using a Mexican setting for stories about women fighting great white sharks bears no possibility in real life. Well, the part about focused, vengeful fish remains questionable, but a quick YouTube scan using key words “great white sharks, Sea of Cortez” dampens a complete sense of security. Footage includes such titles as “Great White Pupping Ground Discovered.” Still, wise divers know better than to imitate Moore’s character, who joins her sister and two friends for the chance to venture into a cage dropped from a boat that looks like several dozen hurricanes already hit it. Sure enough, chains break, and the result leads to the kind of tense and bloody moments Shark Week fans adore. Shark tension also plays out for Blake Lively, who experiences another Mexican setting and great white encounter in The Shallows. Despite their settings, neither movie filmed in Mexico. The Dominican Republic and London water tanks worked for 47 Meters Down, while Australia provides a bay for The Shallows. Desierto, 2016, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan hunting Gael Garcia Bernal near La Paz. The plight of immigrants fleeing their country turns into the type of survival fight made famous by The Most Dangerous Game and its look at human prey. Writer-director Jonas Cuaron (who co-wrote Gravity with his father, Oscar-winning director Alfonso), puts some social commentary into the story but mostly aims at hunter-versus-hunted thrills. He filmed in Baja California Sur outside the state’s capital, La Paz. Isolated terrain featuring looming rock formations and challenging stretches of desert contribute to the story’s menacing elements. Land’s End, 1995, with Fred Dryer protecting a Baja resort. A former defensive end with the Los Angeles Rams, Dryer moved into the city’s most popular industry as star of the NBC series Hunter before going syndicated with a season of a show he helped create. Like Vega$ before it, Land’s End bases a private eye at a resort in a distinctive looking community. As head of security at the Westin in Cabo San Lucas, Dryer’s Mike Land follows ‘90s television protocol providing predictable, safe story lines where coincidence and convenience often rule. However, the show gets extra panache with its Los Cabos setting, infusing episodes with local flavor from people, places, and music. Though San Lucas now supports Costco and Home Depot, visitors outside resort towns still find the allure shown in Land’s End, including vast stretches of beach, world-class fishing

opportunities, and even a few friendly locals not too jaded by the influx of norteamericanos. And the real-life formation, El Arco at the Land’s End series of rocks, remains offshore an iconic photo-op spot for boaters and snorkelers.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 2005 with Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, and America Ferrera wearing their clothing mascot on various trips. Since each young actress headed her own successful television show before landing their movie roles, more than expected skill comes across as the four work together like old pros whose genuine rapport extends off screen. They also go beyond typical teen angst in showing their emotions. With a title implying journeys, the pants visit Maryland, South Carolina, Greece, and Baja California Sur. Spending her summer at a soccer camp in Mexico, Lively’s character sees some of the region’s famous nightlife, but also spends time appreciating the outdoors and running on the beach. The story maintains its roots from a Young Adult (YA) best seller by offering simple but sensible observations about growth and change. It also provides wise advice: forget strapping and tucking in tops when wearing a flattering pair of pants—it saves suitcase space and looks much better to leave that belt behind.

Troy, 2004, with Brad Pitt as a warrior on the beach. Pitt joins a host of other proven talents in such fields as acting(Peter O’Toole), directing (Wolfgang Petersen), and writing (Homer). Using source material from The Iliad, Petersen (Das Boot) puts an effects-generated, action-film spin on the Trojan War, focusing on spectacle rather than emotional nuance. While this undermines acting opportunities by downplaying personalities, it works on a popcorn entertainment level. Troy conquered bad reviews by pleasing audiences and earning nearly $500 million at the box office. Pitt’s buffed, bare chest certainly contributed to the movie’s visual appeal, but wise location choices helped, including Baja California Sur and Playa El Faro Viejo. Most of the movie filmed on Malta.

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