Release date:June 24, 2016
MPAA Rating:PG-13 (for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language)
Starring:Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Sedona Legge
[divider]This it’s an interesting story nonetheless. There are some very typical plot twists in addition to some pretty good jump scares (for the uninitiated)
The story starts are warmly with Nancy (played by Blake Lively) going to the beach and that her mother visited some twenty years ago. She is skimming through pictures on her phone, which you see on screen in almost a “pop-up” format. The person she is reading list speaks very little English, but does manage to remind her that there is a beautiful world to see, outside of her phone, a trend I’m seeing more and more of and one that I endorse (Ok, enough of the soapbox).
Once they arrive the scenery is absolutely gorgeous, breathtaking, in fact. There is so much beauty within such a short period of time that it’s almost hard to take it in and yet one’s eyes are, indeed, treated to an amazing blues, greens, sand colors, different textures of the rocks as well as a pristine view beneath the gentle rolling of the ocean.
When they arrive at the destination, it is almost as if the curtains of the theater have been pulled back so as to introduce us to ingenue of the production…the cove. Such a gorgeous display of nature it was quite staggering to look at.
Karen arrives on the beach alone, her friend having bailed out on her due to a case of “Irish fever”, and we see early on that she’s very prepared and organized individual, having packed a first aid kit and other necessities.
There are numerous, gorgeous, establishing shots of her surfing in something in this amazingly clear water. This is to establish why this movie is called “The Shallows”, for just barely under the waves deadly coral and rocks away to shred the first one who might show disrespect. The underwater camera work for these shots is flawless! No well the camera work was amazing, I thought that the sounds of the ocean in these early shots was off. They sounded more like gurgling coagulation then the crisp sounds of the ocean. I’m not sure if they were trying to make us feel as though we were under water with the Surfers or what, but it, for me, was definitely a distraction more than an enhancement, thankfully, later on, this is taken care of.
Now to the action; After a full day of Surfing her two new friends start to head in. While she is out there, there is a rather sudden dissipation of the surf, which was so plentiful earlier. It just stops. Weird!
It is in this place of “Solace” that she sees something on the immediate horizon, a small humpback whale that is out of men killed or just died. The weird thing here is that neither of the two other Surfers noticed this even though they were out there longer and farther out than she was. So, for some reason, she makes her way out to the decimated Beast and notices both of smell and rather good-sized bite taken out of it. Shortly after this is when we are introduced to our “main villain”.
This is where things get a little weird for me. The Beast seems to take an immediate interest in her, despite there being a full whale carcass just a few feet away from it.
The shark continues to behave uncharacteristically throughout the movie. It stalks her, pursuing her as if it had a personal Vendetta against her, even to the point of killing others around her like some psychotic boyfriend.
Karen’s only salvation, at this point, is a small piece of rock which has appeared due to the low tide and in getting there and she is attacked again, this time by piece of fire Coral which cuts and burns her pretty severely. When she message to the Rock, which is barely above the water, she’s able to tend to her wounds, and a rather clever and believable fashion. This is where becomes a waiting game. She has to figure out what to do to get yourself to safety.
There are several more close encounters with a shark and she figured out a couple more things to help her survive and eventually is able to swim to a buoy. This is where it gets strange again, she has to swim through a large, tightly packed, school of jellyfish, which appear out of nowhere. This is one of many plot holes that just don’t make sense. What are the jellyfish suddenly appear from? How is it that you can swim through dozens of jellyfish and not die?
Indian there’s an epic battle with a shark and, of course, in typical Hollywood fashion…well you know how that works out.
I will say that Blake does carry this film very effectively with equal parts of fear, pain, heroism, strength, and survival skills. I thought you did a wonderful job! The main problem I had with this film, however, is that they seem to want to capture the terror of Jaws but there’s no impetus for the sharp pursuing her in such a personal way.