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Movie Review: The Shallows
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The Shallows
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Starring Blake Lively
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Rated PG-13 | 86 Minutes
Release Date: June 24th, 2016

If you’ve seen the previews for The Shallows, then you know what the movie is about; a surfer is attacked by a Great White Shark at a “secret” beach in Mexico, and left stranded on a rocky reef a mere 200 yards from shore. The tide is coming and soon it’ll be her vs. the biggest apex predator on earth, on its home turf. “Shark movies” have become cliche in recent years thanks in part to two main sources; the popularity of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and the ridiculous success of SyFy’s shark movies: Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Sharktopus, the Sharknado series, etc. 41 years ago, Steven Spielberg created a monster with Jaws, the first summer blockbuster and my favorite movie of all time. Since then, moviemakers have been trying to recapture that lightning. Usually, the movies are comical in their attempts. Who doesn’t remember Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J battling makos in Deep Blue Sea. However, once in awhile they actually get it right.

More below.

The Shallows has such a simple premise for a shark movie. Surfer vs. Shark, one on one. There is a backstory, summarized quickly in the opening 15-minutes about Nancy (Blake Lively) looking for the beach where her mother went when she was pregnant. Her mom died from cancer, and she’s taking a break from medical school to find herself. Now get in the darn water! This movie benefits from its isolation. While the ocean is vast and endless, the beach is all right there, you can see the sand from the rocks. You can scream loud enough for people to hear you on land. Lively carries the movie. It’s not just a CGI-shark-eating-people fun 80 minutes, it’s a battle of wits. How can she manage to survive the shark, her wounds, the tide, the cold of night? Lively looks stunning in her surfing scenes, and no I’m not simply gawking at her body. The cinematography by Flavio Martinez Labiano is flawless, and he uses the picturesque landscape to create a truly beautiful movie.

Like I said, if you’ve seen previews, you know what The Shallows is about. Any plot points past “she gets bitten by Great White, has to survive on rock,” would be spoiling the fun. And that’s the best part, the movie is amazingly entertaining. It’s a taut thriller, a suspenseful horror movie, an action movie with spectacular, yet practical set pieces and special effects, and a Castaway style survival film all rolled into one. The shark looks great and the CGI is barely noticeable. Having spent the better part of this week watching Great Whites on Shark Week, I can honestly say kudos to the shark team on this film. Director Jaume Collet-Serra knows how to build tension and maintain it. His dabblings in horror include the vastly underrated House of Wax remake, and the eerie killer-kid film Orphan. He’s also found a niche with Liam Neeson, directing him in three action thrillers. With The Shallows, he’s made a film that immediately goes near the top of the conversation of “best non-Jaws shark movie ever made.”

The Shallows is in theaters everywhere now.

Video

THE SHALLOWS – Official Trailer


In the taut thriller The Shallows, Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing alone on a secluded beach when she is attacked by a great white shark and stranded just a short distance from shore. Though she is only 200 yards from her survival, getting there proves the ultimate contest of wills.

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