Sunday, June 26, 2016

Movie Review #445: "The Shallows" (2016)

Movie"The Shallows"
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
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Medical school dropout Nancy (Blake Lively) heads to a hidden beach in Mexico where her mother used to visit. While surfing, Nancy is attacked by a great white shark and gets stranded on a rock a short distance from shore. She must now find a way to survive long enough to be rescued while the shark circles waiting for her to enter the water.

"The Shallows" is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who is best known for directing his horror thriller "The Orphan," and more recently, his Liam Neeson action thrillers "Run All Night" and "Non Stop." His latest film stars Blake Lively as medical school dropout Nancy. While visiting a secluded beach in Mexico, Nancy gets stranded on a rock a couple hundred yards off shore after she is attacked by a great white shark while surfing. She must find a way to get to shore, or find someone who can help her, but most importantly, she must fight like hell to survive.

This is a simple story of woman versus nature, but it executed to well, so quickly, that we found ourselves hanging on every minute of action and thrills this film provides. It starts out with some rather excellent character development as we get introduced to Nancy. This development helps us understand why this specific beach is so important to her, what she is going through in her life, and who would miss her if she was gone. We also get a good outline of her personality and what type of person she is, how she hates it when plans are cancelled, how she loves to label everything, and how she's clearly a person in charge of the situation. We found that because of this development and her personality traits, Nancy is an easy character to root for, and we wanted her to succeed in getting escaping from the shark that seems like it has some sort of vendetta towards her.

The best part about "The Shallows" is the visuals. For a film with a $17 million budget, these visuals are pretty darn good. The shark pursuing Nancy looks surprisingly fantastic! It has an extremely authentic look about it with its gaping mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth and an eye for blood. It's not just the shark that looks realistic and menacing. The camera work is also great. Some of the shots of the ocean, the waves, and the surfing are quite breathtaking. Many overhead shots are used to show the vastness of the Mexican beach where Nancy gets stranded, and there are many fantastic sideways shots while she and a few other minor characters are catching surf. When the shark does eventually show up, it's extreme to say the least, and these visuals only serve to aid in the intensity of the film. There are many exciting moments where the tension shoots up as Nancy races from her board to a nearby rock, or from one rock to another as she tries to outsmart the massive killer great white stalking her. These action sequences, some of which are very gruesome and graphic in nature, will keep you right on the edge of your seat.

We're not going to pretend this movie is "The Godfather," because it's not, but it is a really fun, engaging, wholly terrifying summer action flick that will leave you thinking twice before taking your next dip into the ocean. Maybe if Marlon Brando had stripped down into a bikini like Blake Lively does here, it would be more like "The Godfather"....wait, nevermind, please don't picture that. We have to say, going into "The Shallows," we were apprehensive and didn't care a lick about this film, not expecting anything other than a second-rate "Jaws" knockoff. Once the end credits started rolling, we were both shocked by how much we enjoyed this movie, leaving the theater pleasantly surprised and ready to never go to the beach again. This is a fairly stupid movie when you think about it, but it somehow manages to be tense, bloody, and even mildly horrific. It breezes by its relatively short run time in the blink of an eye, so it's really a no harm, no foul film. See this one instead of "Independence Day: Resurgence."

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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