So let’s get started with the what we know from the trailer… The Shallows is about a surfer in a tiny bikini encountering a great white shark near a deserted shore. It's a “shark movie”. Wrong! I know people are still going to label it as that, but let me try to give you guys a better perspective. This is a movie about a girl who visits a secluded beach, in memory of her mother and ends up surfing in the feeding zone of a great white shark. After her first encounter with the shark, she is left stranded on a small rock off the shore with a shark bite on her leg. With the shark circling around ready to strike, all she has now is her wits, resourcefulness and willpower to find her way back to shore alive.
Then again, this is no Cast Away or 127 Hours. The movie credits only two actors: Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, Age of Adaline) as the central character and the guy who drives her to the beach. A sizeable amount of screen time is shared by one other entity, the vengeful/hungry great white shark. If you can get past the fact that the movie literally throws Blake Lively in a skimpy bikini at you (which might be enough for some people to watch it), you will see that she has actually given a decent performance. She is on the screen for almost all of the runtime, with very little dialogue. But you can at times feel the fear, struggle and hopelessness of being in the situation. The rest of the time, you are looking at cheaply-done CGI (I’m guessing Blake isn’t a pro-surfer), lots of waves and sometimes a fake looking shark.
Disregarding the the bad CGI and a few shark antics, the director actually manages to make the story gripping and fun. There are actually great surprise shots of the shark where you only see its shadow as it passes; but when something as giant as a great white covers more than 50% of your screen, that sure sends down some chills. I know I sound conflicted, but so does the tone of this movie. The varied handling of scenes indicates a creative difference or interference, and leaves you begging for a possibly better version of the movie.
Is it the greatest survival movie to come out in past few years? Maybe not. When you have a shark in a movie and producers demanding stuff from all over the artistic spectrum, what you end up with is a few over-the-top, hard-to-believe scenes. Sometimes more than a few. And I understand how that alone would be a reason for some people to call it a lost cause. Nonetheless, this is no Sharknado. The movie has a solid core along with some thrills and scares and if you can ignore the flaws that come along with it, I’m sure you will enjoy the movie.
P.S. And in other news… Shark returns to cape cod. Happy beach days :)