Short Attention Span Review: The Shallows (2016)
There are two basic principles to consider when making a horror film with a shark in it:
1) The good news is that such an endeavor remains appealing to the movie-going public courtesy of Jaws and that picture's lasting impact on the cinematic landscape.
2) The bad news is that any movie with a shark in it will ultimately be compared to Jaws, which is absolutely one of the best movies ever made.
So, with that in mind, I should start here by noting that The Shallows is surely no Jaws, but that didn't really bother me as it's still a solid feature film--and it it doesn't really intend to be the next Jaws. That 1975 mega-hit (which gave us the summer blockbuster) is a stunning ensemble piece that could adequately be described as an epic, while The Shallows is a lean thrill ride that takes place in one gorgeous seaside setting and rests entirely upon Blake Lively's shoulders. Seriously, her most important co-star is a seagull, and at a scant 87 minutes The Shallows is clearly angling for something other than epic status. Instead of giving us a genuine masterpiece, Director Jaume Collet-Serra has served up a great-looking survival yarn that moves quickly and continually ratchets up the suspense by constantly making things harder and harder for our quick-witted and likable protagonist. I've never seen Lively get an opportunity to do so much, and she does a great job here in a role that requires athleticism, grit, and the ability to convey a wealth of emotions. As Nancy, she gives The Shallows an emotional center and a believable heroine who keeps the viewer enthralled even when there's a bit too much CGI and a few too many lapses in plausibility in play to elevate an otherwise straight-laced thriller to legendary status. In the end, The Shallows emerges as a short thriller packed with chills and excitement, and it may be the best movie with a shark in it that isn't Jaws. Truthfully, that's probably exactly what it was intended to be.
Final Grade: B-
|The Shallows is is a taut little chiller that relies entirely upon Blake Lively to tell a stripped-down tale of survival; she proves to be up to the challenge and keeps the viewer invested in her character's daunting struggle from start to finish.|