The Shallows – 4 out of 5
I’m a pretty big fan of shark movies—especially the bad ones. Actually, most of them are bad. The only good one I can think of is Jaws because all others are just silly—and there’s nothing wrong with silly shark movies because they can be damn fun. However, when I saw the trailers for The Shallows and heard its reviews, I started to wonder if I was about to sit through another legit good shark movie. You know what? It actually was!
|This part is from a GoPro video and, let's be honest, once those things became|
popular we all kinda wanted to see something like this happen.
After an emotionally traumatic incident hits her life, young medical student Nancy (Blake Lively) retreats to a very secluded beach in Mexico and decides to surf out her feelings and contemplate her future. However, while alone in the waters, she discovers a whale carcass floating nearby and is attacked by a great white after accidentally wandering into its feeding area. With a severely injured leg, Nancy clings to life on a rocky outcrop waiting for her chance to escape; however, this shark isn’t done with her (she interrupted its meal of whale, for crying out loud) and it is stalking her in the dark waters that surround her.
|The ocean is a disgusting place.|
|You're my hero, Steven Seagull!|
Overall, The Shallows is a well-crafted thriller that might have some moments of being too over-the-top but still does a fantastic job of telling a simple and effective story. Blake Lively had a lot riding on her being the sole focus of the film (if you exclude the side character of Steven Seagull—don’t worry, he makes sense in the story) and she takes that challenge and dominates it. The story does a decent job of developing her where you care enough about her to want to survive in theory but Lively’s performance—whether it is her at her weakest from the pain or when she is in full badass mode ready to look death in the face and spit in it—really made me an active participant of the film and had me cheering on her survival in practice.
|At one point, it becomes an Avatar sequel.|
Visually the film is stunning as director Jaume Collet-Serra makes the locales, whether they are on the beach, or the waves or under the sea, all look incredible and gorgeous. He also does a tremendous job of crafting tension and suspense with the action. While there are long moments where the shark isn’t seen, the film never really made me forget it was out there. Sometimes sequences like this where a survival movie takes a break from the action the momentum can slow down so poorly that the movie just becomes a series of heart-pounding moments with a lot of boring filler in-between but The Shallows never felt like this and the suspense and tension is kept at such a pace that you always felt like some shit was going to go down around the corner.
|Of course, Blake Lively looks majestic with a surfboard.|
I would just look like a flopping idiot who is constantly on the verge of
If there is a downside to The Shallows is that the ending battle between surfer and shark is a tad silly—but only when you step back and take a long look at it. The film is so well paced and structured that, in the heat of the moment, I had no problem with the very badass way Nancy’s great white troubles come to an end but it doesn’t change the fact it is super over-the-top—however, Jaws ends with the shark literally jumping on to the end of the boat so there’s that—suspension of disbelief. It’s a bit like the ending to Jurassic World: Yeah, it’s silly that it basically boils down to a dinosaur version of a pro-wrestling match but that doesn’t change the fact it’s damn fun to watch and experience.
|Shit, the shark almost looks like it is enjoying this.|
The Shallows ultimately proved to be one of those rare shark movies that didn’t have to be based on a silly premise like mixing the sharks with tornadoes or making the hunter a ghost or something. It even goes a step further by actually being a well-made shark movie—those are even rarer! It does a fantastic job with suspense and action and Blake Lively does a tremendous job of carrying the film. And Steven Seagull isn’t too bad himself.
|Steven Seagull deserves his own spin-off, dammit!|