The Shallows (2016) Movie Review

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Shallows (2016) 

The Shallows (2016) Movie Review

The Shallows gets it right
This smart little thrill ride may not make you afraid to get back in the water like the one-and-only Jaws...because it does something on a much more conscious level than Spielberg's very fictional tale, and for that, I applaud the director and writer for coming up with a story that is more about self-empowerment than it is about painting sharks as man-eating monsters -- they're not, and that's why this movie is a shark movie done right. While menacing, /this/ fish in our story is /not/ a spawn of the devil bent on upping the beach-goer body count for sport. It's about two instinctive creatures, the girl and the shark (whom both have good reason to be on the beach) crossing paths, hence the struggle to survive. You'll get your fair share of thrills and shocks, yes, /and/ heart, which this movie has just enough of; centered on a young woman you can really get behind and cheer on. 'The Shallows' has subtle-yet-palpable themes and an even tone, and is surprisingly emotional without being cheesy. And also, the cinematography is just gorgeous. Cudos to the entire cast and crew for getting this one right!

The Best Shark Movie since Jaws?
It first I didn't know what to expect from this movie, as it has become so hard to take shark movies seriously, however The Shallows not only surprised me, it is the best shark movie since Jaws and honestly the best creature feature in ages!

At only 85 minutes, this movie absolutely makes the most of that run-time and its 17 million dollar budget and delivers a tense, gripping, stress inducing movie that will constantly keep you on the edge of your seat. Blake Lively is on her way to stardom, as she carries this entire movie and is able to act without speaking, which is insanely hard to do. You care about her and you want her character to survive. The movie is insanely smart and the Director deserves all the credit in making a movie that honestly should not have worked and made it a classic in this genre.

The shark is absolutely terrifying and the way Lively is able to not only face off against this shark, but how she is able to make the most over her situation while being under-prepared was not only intelligent, but believable. The story is simple, straight forward, believable and so genuinely crafted, stylishly executed, and not a single scene is wasted. Director Jaume Collet- Serra will have no problem landing a future big budget Hollywood Blockbuster and Blake Lively will soon find herself as a leading lady more often.

The Shallows is the biggest surprise of the year, with gripping tension, a career performance from Blake Lively, beautiful scenery, an amazing story of will and survival and one big, mean, scary shark, The Shallows is a Summer movie that you don't want to miss! 9 out of 10

A Worthy Successor to 'Jaws'
The Shallows is a perfect example of how to make a perfectly competent and thrilling shark movie from the moment the camera opens onto the beautiful Mexican beaches to the very end once the last of the credits has rolled. The cast (which is very small, good for this kind of movie) is led by a beautiful Blake Lively; none of the others are of particular significance. Lively stars as Texan medical student Nancy, who has determined it's time to take a little R & R and takes a trip to a idyllic Mexican coast. Before long, however, she becomes the victim of a shark attack and, alone, save for the company of a seagull, the movie is a harrowing tale of man, er, woman versus nature at its finest. Lively proves to be a great choice as the lead. She has a charisma, vulnerability, and resourcefulness that I believe is ideal in the heroines of this genre of film; bold and plucky, she manages to keep a smile on her face (much of the time), with an attitude that seems to say, "gimme your best shot." It is riveting to watch her scramble to stay alive, determined not to lose to what appears to be the very hand of Fate itself. 

This movie does what any shark movie that is worth its salt does best, that is, besides possessing a great number of fake-outs and an ominous, looming score, it contrasts the beauty of its surroundings with the horrors that lurk beneath. And the location is part of what makes this movie so very, very good. If it weren't for the shark, I'd want to dive right into those cool, blue waters. The cinematographer does a wonderful job of showing how indisputably beautiful the Mexican coasts are (and how unforgiving). The shark itself is a CGI spectacle, looking just like the real thing. And while it lacks the threatening presence of Jaws, it nevertheless makes for a wonderful foe for Lively. It is intelligent and *seems* to be gunning for Lively, its determination unsettling and beyond natural, dare I say, purposeful. And though there is one moment which I believe "jumps the shark" just a bit, it leads to one of the best, kick-ass endings I've seen in recent cinema. My only major complaint is that during some of the early surfing sequences, the action goes from slow to fast to slow again one-too-many times, and some of the beginning scenes linger a little too long. But these are easily forgettable, as the rest of the film's 87-minute run-time is unrelenting intensity from the point where the camera emerges from the murky depths in classic, Jaws-like fashion. THIS is the Jaws sequel we should've gotten. I *do* recommend wading into The Shallows.

"What was once in the deep is now in the shallows"
Clocking in at a quick 87 minutes, The Shallows never strays from what it knows it is, a heart thumping survival flick. The plus side to the film is that it deals with a shark and Blake Lively in a bikini for the majority of the film. 

Still having difficulties with the loss of her mother to cancer, Nancy decides to put her medical schooling on hold to go globe trotting to a beautiful island her mother once went to. The perfect place to be at peace, surf and try not to get eaten by a shark. Nancy soon finds herself stranded on a rock, 200 yards away from the shore. With the shark circling her and the tide coming in, she only has so much time before hers runs out. 

Ryan Reynolds, not too long ago, did a one man show in the film Buried. Now it's his wife's turn as she has to hold this film on her shoulders. Can she carry a film? When most of the shots of her lean more towards eye-candy, I'll say she serves her purpose. But, I don't want to undermine her like that. She was surprisingly good in The Town and I really like the film The Age of Adeline. Her she is relegated to screaming, talking to herself and at the end of the day....look good. She does this and while she doesn't blow anyone away with her acting abilities here, she manages to do the material justice. 

Is the film scary? Not really, but it does have at least one good jump moment. I didn't feel the dread as much as the filmmakers would have wanted me to. The tension on the other hand, is indeed there. How is she going to make it out alive? Will she? What will be left of her is she makes it to the shore? A lot of questions will run through your mind when she is stuck on that rock. 

The Shallows is essentially a B-Movie with a Hollywood make-over. The main draw of the flick is the shark, not much else. The film tries to give a bit of depth to our lead character, but it's extremely cookie-cutter at best. Her family drama stalls the film a bit, which is a bad thing when the film is so short. Chalk that up to mediocre writing. 

Unfortunately the film has some pretty awful CGI that takes you out of the experience. Specifically, I caught myself laughing at moments when Lively was "surfing", yet it's clearly someone else and her face CGI'd on top. Then the shark itself is hit or miss. When it jumps out of the water to attack people, it's laughable. Yet when it is underwater and we see it from above, it's really menacing. The film excels with the make-up though, creating some great work on Lively for her injuries. Horror desperately needs to go back to basics, cause it works well. 

With a goofy ending, The Shallows falls a hair short of being a classic shark flick. It's a decent summer film that will keep you thrilled no doubt, but it will have to sit at the back of the bus with Jaws driving and Deep Blue Sea sitting near the front.

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