Friday, July 8, 2016

Movie Review: The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows (2016) - Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra; Written by Anthony Jaswinski; Starring Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Angelo Jose.

By Kenny Howell

Blake Lively is put to the test, and mostly succeeds in this shark attack film from director Jaume Collet-Serra.

The Shallows is a pretty straight forward film, Lively plays Nancy, a woman trying to get away for a few days by visiting a remote beach in Mexico her mom visited years ago. Her mom has passed, and Nancy is still grieving while trying to also figure out the next step in her life.

Nancy just wants to surf a bit at the beach, but a big angry shark ain't all about that. An injured whale, most likely attacked by the shark, is floating several hundred yards off shore. When Nancy gets close to it, the shark gets pissed she is encroaching on its feeding grounds and knocks her off her board. She gets to a bit of safety, but is still several hundred yards off shore and no one is around to help her. Nancy uses her smarts, mostly from medical schooling, to survive long enough to get back to shore.

The movie is set in one location, and belongs to Lively. Like the movie, Lively is mostly left to her own, and does a terrific job carrying the story. It could have easily used tons of flashbacks and other devices to give Lively a break, but it stays with her.

Collet-Serra, known mostly for Liam Neeson action movies, tries to help a bit too much, shooting parts of the film like big action scenes, when it doesn't necessarily need to be. When Nancy is first going out to surf, loud music blares, and Collet-Serra pulls out all the stops, slow motion, loud crashes into the water, and so on. This is for her swimming out a few hundred yards off shore, and nothing really comes of it. Because she is just swimming.

Despite all of this, and a few silly conveniences (shark can jump and eat a man off a surfboard, but can't jump on a rock), The Shallows is pretty solid because of Lively's presence. She elevates the material as good actors do, and makes this one a pretty good watch instead of what could have been easily forgettable.

Rating: **1/2

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