Monday, February 13, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: The Shallows (2016)

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.

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