The Shallows | Review

It seamed only fair to pair up the Blakes for this review. Kernel Blake gets his Blake Lively on and heads into THE SHALLOWS for some surfing, perving and fracking shit scary shark shenanigans. I actually saw this one myself this morning and was impressed with how good it actually is. When you expect it to be total shit you like it even more when it isn’t. I have a small fear of the ocean after three run ins with sharks in my life so the emotions shake movies elicit from me is impressive and adds to my love of them. THE SHALLOWS is out as of today from the fine Sony peeps. It is rated M and runs for a mere 86mins. If you like a bit of sea salted shark terror get yourself into the cinemas now. All the best………..JK.

 

The Shallows Nancy (Blake Lively) Surfing Image

 

BY BLAKE CURRALL

Forty one years ago, a young man named Steven made a movie starring a barely functioning pile of metal and rubber, named Bruce, which caused an entire generation to think twice about setting foot in the ocean. Or a bathtub. Or even sitting on the toilet. JAWS was and still is, the benchmark for water based horror/thrillers starring large bitey things. Growing up on the Western Australian coast, JAWS was an everyday, real-life concern…

Many films have tried to imitate this formula over the years, such as DEEP BLUE SEA, LAKE PLACID and *sigh* SHARKNADO. Yet none have come close to replicating the terror, chills and ocean paranoia of Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece. Does THE SHALLOWS bring anything new to the table that can get close to JAWS?

 

The Shallows Nancy (Blake Lively) Surfing Image

 

WHAT’S THE STORY:

We meet Nancy (Blake Lively, THE TOWN), a medical student taking a break to Mexico after losing her mother to cancer. In search of a secret, secluded beach that her mother visited in her youth, Nancy is looking for an escape from her family, her school and her life to clear her head while surfing the point break in paradise.

Upon reaching the secluded oasis, accessed via a shoddy road through thick jungle, she is left alone by her local driver. Despite her best efforts, he refuses to tell her where they are, for fear of his secret spot being discovered by tourists. Out on the open water, Nancy meets some locals and engages in some totally tubular action on the waves before the locals call it a day, leaving Nancy alone in the big blue.

All hell breaks loose when Nancy drifts too close to a whale carcass in the water and on trying to catch one last wave back to shore, is knocked off her board by an enormous great white shark. What follows is a battle of wits and survival, as Nancy is left stranded on a rocky outcrop hundreds of metres from shore, as the murder beast circles its prey. It’s here where THE SHALLOWS really kicks into gear, throwing twists and turns at Nancy as she tries to survive her shark induced injuries and escape the apex predator.

 

The Shallows Nancy (Blake Lively) on the rock Image

 

BLAKE LIVELY? OR BLAKE DEADLY? (Ed’s Note: badum tish)

Putting her medical training to good use, Nancy must stop the bleeding from her shark bite and figure out a way to get back to shore before the tide rises, forcing her back into the water with Jaws Jr. The tension builds in THE SHALLOWS as her only options of rescue disappear thanks to a local that will do nothing for American-Mexican relations and her returning surfer friends that really need a bigger boat.

Lively gives a great performance as the battered and bloody Nancy, putting real emotion into her role and making you really invest in her character, hoping she makes it. She’s a fighter, like her mother was during her cancer battle and she will not give in to the Great White, which is doing its best to make Nancy give this beach a terrible rating on TripAdvisor. It’s a tense battle of womano-e-sharko that you genuinely don’t know how she is going to get out of her predicament, with moments that will make some viewers watch the movie through their fingers if they get queasy easy.

 

The Shallows Nancy (Blake Lively) on the buoy Image

 

THOSE RESPONSIBLE:

THE SHALLOWS is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who doesn’t have the most promising filmography, starting out with the awful HOUSE OF WAX and some forgettable Liam Neeson thrillers, but he really crafts a solid, tense thriller here. Beautiful aerial shots of the crystal clear ocean and coastline (shot on Lord Howe Island in Queensland, funnily enough) are mixed brilliantly with the dark, foreboding emptiness of the underwater shots.

Collet-Serra does a great job of showing how the picturesque ocean can suddenly turn into a living, breathing, snarling beast of a character on its own. There are some questionable uses of CGI early on with a pod of dolphins and some shots of Lively’s face superimposed on to her surfing stunt double, he does however make up for it with gratuitous slo-mo shots of Lively’s bum in a bikini. However those issues are soon forgotten when the big beasty shows its angry face and rows of teeth.

As mentioned earlier THE SHALLOWS is all about Lively, she is alone on screen for 90% of the running time and does an incredible job dealing with the trauma and severity of her situation in a compelling way. However special mention must go to the real star of the show, Stephen Seagull. This little guy is the Wilson to Lively’s castaway, an actual seagull that you end up caring more for than you probably should and is the best animal companion in a movie since Antony from ANT-MAN.

 

The Shallows Nancy (Blake Lively) under the buoy Image

 

THE FINAL BITE:

While THE SHALLOWS will never challenge JAWS for the title of best shark based thriller, it is a very good attempt and far superior to the garbage we’ve been lured with over the last few years. It’s tense, it’s exciting and received a rousing applause during certain moments in the climax. There are a few niggles with a lot of the gory action happening off-screen lessening its impact, as well as some issues with the script and effects. On the whole though, this was unexpectedly entertaining.

What it doesn’t do is make me afraid to go in the water, which is something JAWS can still do after all these years. It does however make me think twice about surfing in Mexico.

 

KERNEL BLAKE POP SCORE:

3 and a Half Pops

JK POP SCORE:

3 and a Half Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life, like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. Can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.