review by Bobby Blakey
Ever since JAWS made audiences afraid to go into the water filmmakers have attempted to recreate that brand of horror. Sadly almost every one of them have missed the mark on every level with only a handful managing to entertain, none coming close to it. The latest The Shallows takes a bit of a different approach with the man vs. shark genre featuring Blake Lively leading the charge, but does it offer up anything worth swimming out for or should you just stay in the boat and avoid the water all together?
The Shallows follows a young woman who is surfing on a secluded beach and finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of her ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude. This is one of those movies that could have easily gone horribly wrong, but instead manages to deliver overall. Lively is given the entire film to carry on her shoulders and ended up killing it. She offers the variety of emotions and character that makes you enjoy seeing her on screen and understand what she is going through. There is a lot of physicality to the role that she carries perfectly bringing believability to the role needed for you to really invest into the story. The film uses a slow build approach setting up who and why she is there and allowing here to enjoy her time of fully embracing this secluded paradise. This is a much needed pace for you to understand who she is and what she is fighting for outside just her life. For once they didn’t try to create some over the top story of why the shark is crazed and just lets it be nature being nature.
For most of the film the shark visuals are awesome including some of the final moments in the film when things are amped up to a sometimes unbelievable direction. There is a couple of CGI moments that are a bit cheesy and look like something off SyFy channel, but thankfully these are minimal. Most of the film takes a fairly realistic approach and then shifts to the over the top finale that is great fun to watch, but might be the part that loses some hoping for a more realistic overall film. There isn’t any real terror here, but the fight for survival is fun to watch and manages to make this JAWS meets Castaway like mash up work better than you might expect.
The biggest issues in the finished product come with an opening that makes no sense to why it is there in the bigger picture. It’s a flash forward type scene that the film eventually catches up to and serves no real point opening with it. The final moments of the ending were a missed opportunity as well. There is a great final scene visually, acted and the perfect dialogue, but they felt the need to inject some other random scene that just wasn’t needed and in reality does nothing to further the story other than try to end on a high note when not needed. In the end the film delivers as a whole and is one that will likely entertain most and worth checking out. Whether it will make you afraid to get in the water is obviously dependent on the viewer but it is at least likely to make you double check before diving in.