365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


The Shallows (2016)

Congratulations to all associated with, what will be, the biggest surprise moneymaking movie of 2016. Jaume Collet-Serra's (Non-Stop, Run All Night) The Shallows will have used a highly successful marketing campaign (which included showing its terrifying trailers during sporting events and popular primetime television shows) along with positive scores from the critics (75% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) on its way to making, my guess, more than $300 million worldwide by the time everything is said and done. This will make The Shallows the biggest non-superhero, non-G-rated movie to be released in the first half of 2016. It's exactly everything you would expect it to be and, for a majority of its audience, that will be perfectly fine. If you want an escape from reality fare, this could be the movie for you. If you want to take your thinking cap off for an hour and a half, this ould be the movie for you.  If you want a movie that builds upon each and every single scene in its quest to terrify you, this could be the movie for you. Even if you are just looking for a movie with beautiful cinematography, this could the movie for you. But if you are looking for something that is even the slightest bit believable or you care about any top of quality acting in your lead or sub-characters, The Shallows most certainly is not your movie.

This was the ultimate no risk/high reward film. I expected it to be bad. Yet based on the trailers and the reviews, I at least knew it would be entertaining. And it was. It was quite entertaining. But as a friend of mine said, you can't remake Jaws. And you certainly can't. The very first shark movie will go down as forever being the best shark movie in my opinion. There have been other good shark movies. I was a fan of Deep Blue Sea, The Reef, and Red Water. I also really enjoyed Open Water, though I know there are others who were irritated by this movie (much like I was by Open Water 2). But none of these movies came close to replicating the terror and suspense associated with the 1975 classic. And The Shallows was better than most of the other shark movies that have been made, it still was not good. The shark looked incredibly unrealistic and, worse, acted in ways that were very inconsistent with shark behaviors. And I'm not sure about the storyline itself. A person stranded on a rock in a lagoon on a remote island while being circled by a shark doesn't sound like it has the weight to front as a major motion picture. But, I've said this already and I'll say it again, the movie is entertaining.

The premise surrounds Nancy (Lively) visiting a beach that her recently deceased mom surfed at when she was younger. Nancy wants to honor her mother's memory by surfing the same waves while also trying to come to terms with her mother's death. The beach (which has no official name) is located in Tijuana, Mexico and is simply referred to as the beach of the pregnant woman because the islands off in the distance look like a pregnant woman lying on her back. Nancy is from Galveston, TX where her father and younger sister live. We meet these characters once when Nancy video chats with both of them when she first arrives at the beach. In the span of three minutes, we learn that her much younger sister looks up to her as her hero and that her father disapproves of her recent dropping out of medical school because of what happened to her mom. From this, we learn a few things. First, her family loves her. She is willing to fight for her sister, her dad, and for the memory of her deceased mother. Secondly, she is searching for her soul. Third, she has medical training. All of these are pretty important, especially the medical training part. We learn from the extended jeep ride in one of the film's first scenes that the beach she is traveling to is VERY secluded. It's literally in the middle of nowhere and the only way that she is able to get there is through the navigation of a local who knows the terrain. Finally, we learn that she has a best friend who has accompanied on her trip to Tijuana, but that her friend had a little too much to drink the night before and is unable to make the surfing excursion. Nancy does have her cell phone and there is plenty of service in the area so she'll be safe right? She also seems to have enough food and other survival supplies where a day (or even two days) away from civilization won't be an issue. And while the beach is completely secluded when she arrives, she does find two local surfers out in the lagoon and, lucky for her, one of them speaks English because her Spanish isn't very good and it's even worse without her phone's translation app which, of course, is in her bag on the beach while she is out on her surfboard. Thank God one of them speaks English otherwise the interactions could have been very embarrassing for...

Blake Lively is no Tom Hanks for goodness sakes. This isn't Cast Away and Lively is being asked to command the screen by herself for a longer period of time than Hanks was when he was nominated for his third consecutive Best Actor nomination. And the bird with the clipped wing that she encounters on her rock, while cute, is no Wilson. Everything felt forced throughout this movie and never was I able to believe for a second that this could really happen, at least from the second of her initial shark bite going forward. The props are conveniently placed throughout the film's duration and Lively's Nancy is able to hold it together a little too easily. Certainly, we can imagine what it would be like to have to stitch yourself and, while Nancy's screams convey that agony, she gets over it pretty darn quickly. While others would be sent into outright shock and downright despair, Nancy uses her survival skills (where these were developed, I'll never know) to figure out a plan to save herself.

There has been a tendency in recent years (going back to the mid 90's) for the heroes to not always come out clean. Does this movie follow this newer philosophy or does it follow the template of the main character surviving until the end? I won't ruin it for you other than to say that I didn't really know up until the very end. I mean maybe I sort of did, but I wasn't convinced. So Collet-Serra definitely had that going for him. Is the ending satisfactory? I wouldn't exactly go that far, but, again, my interest was held up until the very end.

There will be those who like this movie much more than I did. I think the younger generation who missed out on seeing Jaws or their shark movie will dig it. This movie also probably deserves a slightly better rating than just a 60.5%, but I just couldn't get past the awful acting, the screenplay (mainly the dialogue), and the shark itself.

Plot 4/10 (been there, done that with stories that are far more believable and with characters we care far more deeply for)
Character Development 5/10
Character Chemistry 4/10
Acting 4/10 (Blake Lively is so not ready to carry a movie by herself...to her defense, she was given a pretty awful script with some of the worst dialogue I've seen in years...as awful as she was, the supporting actors in this film made Lively look like Meryl Streep)
Screenplay 4/10 (OMG...)
Directing 7/10 (Collet-Serra is much closer to Robert Zemeckis than Lively is a Tom Hanks)
Cinematography 9.5/10 (beautiful)
Sound 8/10 (above average for sure)
Hook and Reel 8/10 (though I wasn't a huge fan, it did reel me in and I was entertained throughout)
Universal Relevance 7/10 (I mean shark attacks are certainly real...I just don't know what kind of shark hunts its prey for 12+ hours when the shark doesn't even know if its prey is there...also who goes to a secluded beach in a foreign country alone?)

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