The Shallows - Review
If you ever wondered what Soul Surfer would have been like as a thriller, The Shallows is the perfect movie for you, balancing thrills, great acting, and some terrific CGI.
The Shallows is not an interesting movie plot-wise. The uninspired story of gorgeous leading lady (Blake Lively) being stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean with a deadly shark is something we have seen in many genres of thriller and horror films. What sets The Shallows apart from those other films is its gorgeous landscape, minimal but key characterization, and some truly nail biting moments. Filmed primary in Australia, there are countless breathtaking shots of crashing waves, blending colors, dark red blood filling the water, and so on. The cinematography is really top notch, which is a huge step up for director Jaume Collet-Serra, director of films like Non-Stop, Run All Night, and Unknown (which all star Liam Neeson). There are plenty of great set-pieces in The Shallows that I won't spoil here, but I'll just say those looking for more thrills than genuine scares will be satisfied. The film makes a smart call in giving Lively's character a "Wilson" the volleyball-esque companion in the form of a bird, which allows the audience to see the softer, more human side of Lively's character.
Blake Lively is the main star of The Shallows, and is given several great moments of character development. An initial encounter with her father and sister over face time is played very smoothly, with all parties playing the broken family well. There are a few other characters, but they purposely don't receive much development, likely due to the presence of the shark. Lively is usually known for her romantic comedies/dramas, so it marks a big change for her to switch to the thriller genre with The Shallows, and it works incredibly in her favor. I could definitely see Lively starring in more horror themed films from now on, and excelling at it much more than others currently in the genre. While there was a fear of Blake Lively being cast simply for eye candy, she is hardly used in that way, instead playing a much smarter and more clever character than we are used to seeing her play.
The Shallows's greatest achievement is its CGI shark. We are given a small taste of the size of the shark in the beginning of the film, which amazes right out of the gate. While it may not look as rough and sea weathered as the shark from Jaws, it instead looks as if it were pulled right from Shark Week. There are several scenes when the shark gets awfully close to the protagonist, and it somehow retains its realness even in these moments. This is easily the most realistic shark I have ever seen in a movie, and it baffles me how the filmmakers accomplished this amazing feat.
The Shallows is the perfect movie to begin the summer with, and will likely cause you to be weary of the ocean for several weeks, thanks to its stellar shark and great lead actress.
Pros- Blake Lively, cinematography, realistic shark
Cons- plot is a bit tired