The Shallows Review 

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge. 

The Overview

A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills. (Source: IMDb

The Good

Back in 1975, Jaws became the blueprint for all shark movies that would follow, and well, they’ve mostly been rather miss than hit since then! We’re living in an age where shark films are in the form of the increasingly ridiculous Sharknado movies, and sharks are more likely to be seen battling giant octupses and taking down planes than they are terrorising beaches like the good old days of Jaws

So along comes The Shallows, unashamedly harking back to the shark movies of yesteryear as it tries to bring the genre out of the depths, to be considered a serious genre again rather than fodder for cheap B-movies. 

Whilst some parts of The Shallows are undoubtedly hilarious and it tiptoes very gingerly along the lines of believability, it is on the whole a really great shark movie! 

Focusing on a single location and mostly one character, is rather inspired! It really ramps up the tension as you’re constantly in the situation, never stopping for breath to cut away to a scene of intrepid heroes plotting a valiant rescue. 

The sense of isolation and loneliness comes across really well, and Blake Lively isn’t the best actress, but she commands the screen and does a great job of holding it all down. Far from being a bikini clad bombshell helpless on a rock, the character is smart and resourceful, which for me added greater depth to the character and saved it from being very one-note. 

I was surprised by how beautiful this film looked and how well it was made. Having been fed the crude special effects and lazy film-making of the Sharknado movies for too long, The Shallows was a real treat for the eyes. The camera work was dynamic and interesting, and some of the shots, particularly the underwater ones, were great. It might be a small and limited location, but the editing and way it is filmed, mean you’re constantly scanning for the shark and never quite sure where it’ll spring up from!! 

The Bad

Whilst we have come a long way since the gaping mouthed animatronics of Jaws (which I love, don’t get me wrong!), I thought the shark effects were not as great as they could’ve been. Particularly in the close-ups, it didn’t really hold up that well, which is a real shame because it let down some of the tension and excitement.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. This is pure popcorn entertainment, and I loved it. The survival aspect of the storyline gives it an interesting edge, and Blake Lively makes a great heroine! I was concerned the small cast would mean there wouldn’t be much action, but don’t be fooled! It’s a tight, well paced, well made thriller with great dramatic tension and thrills. Whilst a little ridiculous in places, it is a film of quiet kills and subtle thrills, which makes a refreshing change from the sometimes over the top melodrama of this genre. A highly enjoyable watch, that like Jaws, might make you afraid to go in the water once again! 

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a totally misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments below! 


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