The Shallows (2016) Movie Review
The Shallows is a shark-survival horror movie with Blake Lively playing the lead role of Nancy, a woman still grieving her mother’s death many years ago. She decides to go visit the secret beautiful beach where her mother visited once, but little does she know- there is a shark in the nearby shallow water who is looking for prey.
Basically, the last good shark horror movie was made forty years ago- Jaws. The ultimate classic shark flick has gone on to be a classic in the horror genre and in cinema itself, but lately, shark movies aren’t being made well and lately it’s just movies like Sharknado. So, The Shallows attempts to bring the genre back in action- and does so with committed craft and a great performance from Blake Lively. And that seagull in the movie too.
Basically, this movie is a one-person show. Blake Lively is really the only main human character in the film and you are stuck with her for the entire run-time of about 87 minutes. However, she manages to do a great job. She does a good job at making her character seem desperate and grieving in moments, but she doesn’t take it too seriously as this is a fun movie. It does have its serious moments, but this movie is still plenty of fun to watch from start to finish and Lively, as well as the supporting cast in a few scenes, do a solid job at capturing their characters and the movie’s tone alongside them.
The cinematography here is great, especially when the action and survival story really get going. The ocean looks beautiful and the way the camera moves makes the movie feel realistic. However, the first twenty minutes of this film start the film very rocky and besides a solid opening scene, is basically just a GoPro commercial. Don’t get me wrong, GoPro’s can capture amazing footage (I even have one myself) but it doesn’t fit into a movie well. This movie has lots of pop music with GoPro footage in that first twenty minutes and it broke the movie’s flow to be completely honest. However, the last hour of the film is actually pretty tense and fun to watch so you get what you get.
The directing by Jaume Collet-Serra (whose previous work are fun movies with Liam Neeson) does a solid job at directing this movie. Of course, the final two acts of this film are tense and a total blast. The directing there is great. However, where it falls a bit flat is how the film starts so mediocre. The directing there isn’t tight and not that good at all. However, he otherwise does a good job and to add on, he is the first one to make an actually good shark movie in forty years (not saying much, but props to him anyways!)
Where this movie succeeds is the scenes in the water with Blake Lively. There is a lot of tension, emotions and the movie is extremely worthy there. That’s where the action takes place and that is also the place where we really connect with our protagonist, Nancy, who is really well-written where we care about her in 87 minutes of movie runtime. Not only is the writing for her good, but the writing, in general, is good. It doesn’t have amazing one-liners maybe like Jaws (I think we need a bigger boat) but it writes out a well-balanced tone for the movie where it’s a lot of fun but you also wind up caring about our main character and her situation. Also, finally, a movie character that isn’t completely dumb. The audience isn’t yelling at her to do something. She takes control even with all of their injuries in the situation. Characters like that are worth rooting for.
This movie also manages to have some solid CGI. The shark looks real and serves as a scary villain, and so do some other animals you may see. It adds to the film’s sense of awe and wonder at the beautiful place, yet the situation and conflict are so grieving for our main character. The film uses it’s setting really well and makes the ocean once again a scary place to swim in after forty years.
What this movie probably succeeds best at is just being a fun thriller. This movie is very tense and emotional, but it doesn’t shove it in the audiences face. It lets the true dazzling shark survival story happen. Seeing our main character plan her escape is lot’s of fun and intense to watch. This movie has many intense moments, but the movie isn’t any amazing. But it doesn’t try to be. It knows that what we want is a good, fun thriller and that’s what this movie is. It’s already a giant step forward for the genre of shark horror movies. It doesn’t have to be a revolutionary movie to be a good one. Remember- this movie isn’t even an hour and a half long. It does what it needs to do and that’s why this works in the end. See it for a fun, intense and original shark movie.
CONSENSUS: The Shallows may not serve as something of amazing sorts, but committed craft and a great performance from Blake Lively make this a fun summer blockbuster that’s not too silly but not too serious.