By Michael Kaye
The Shallows (Reviews)
I have to say, 2016 has been an interesting year for movies. I hear people complain all the time about how Hollywood is nothing but remakes, reboots, sequels and adaptations, and yet some of the most talked about movies have been original ideas. One of those movies is The Shallows, a survival thriller starring Blake Lively.
Here's the story. An injured surfer stranded on a buoy needs to get back to shore, but the great white shark stalking her might have other ideas.
Ok, let's get this out of the way. The ONLY similarities between this movies and Jaws is that both feature a shark as a the main antagonist. Aside from that, these are two completely different films. Jaws is also a damn masterpiece, and there will never be a "next" Jaws, because it's a timeless classic passed down from generation to generation. The Shallows isn't nearly as good, but by B-movie standards it's a fun watch. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, I was very impressed by Blake Lively's performance. I have no idea why people constantly underestimate her. Is it because they think all she has is her looks and nothing else? Did people only see her in Green Lantern and other assorted bad movies she just happened to be a part of? Have people not seen The Town or Age of Adeline!? The point I'm trying to get across is that she's great, but is a victim of countless bad first impressions. And I'm not trying to say that she gives an Oscar worthy performance here, but she does have the majority of the film all to herself, which is not easy to pull off. There are other people she occasionally gets to interact with, such as her father played by Brett Cullen, and her sister Chloe played by Sedona Legge.
This film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who's best known for horror films like House of Wax and Orphan, as well as various Liam Neeson action films like Non-Stop and Run All Night. That's about as perfect a resume for this kind of film as you can get. We'll get to the third act soon, but for the most part, the film had some genuinely good tension built up as Nancy was trying her best to survive stranded on that island. There are even some moments of levity involving a seagull, who's kind of this movie's equivalent to Wilson from Castaway.
Finally, this movie has a great score composed by Marco Beltrami. This guy specializes in genre films, such as Snowpiercer, World War Z, The Wolverine and Gods of Egypt. I know I said I didn't wanna compare this movie to Jaws, but there were admittedly some moments where I could hear a little John Williams influence, though I'm sure that was mostly subconscious.
Now, I said we'd talk about the last act, and boy do we need to talk about it. This movie doesn't really have a lot of major negatives. Sure, the screenplay is pretty empty, most of the dialogue is less character development and more exposition, but I didn't go into this movie for any of that. I came here to watch Blake Lively survive against a killer shark, and for the most part I got what I asked for. The problem was how the climax was executed. Pardon the pun, but this was the moment where the movie jumped the shark. Don't get me wrong, this was absolutely hysterical, but the laughs were completely unintentional, and that's because I didn't believe for a second that the shark was real.
The Shallows is an aptly named summer B-movie. It's funny, a lot of people who didn't like Independence Day: Resurgence complained about its lack of fun, but it turns out it all went towards this movie instead. I can't strongly recommend this movie, but it's worth at least a matinee. If nothing else, you should see it for the ridiculous third act.
Now I wanna hear from you guys! Have you seen The Shallows, and if so what did you think? Also, what are your favorite shark movies? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where I return to Nicholas Winding Refn's filmography and check out one of Tom Hardy's pre-Inception performances in Bronson!