I have been really looking forward to this film. I love Sharks. Shark Week is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. I spent the day before seeing this film watching the only other good Shark films out there, Deep Blue Sea, and Jaws. I also watched Open Water for the first time. Was not impressed. This is why I have had so much hope for The Shallows. We need a new Shark attack film that will survive the test if time. One that is entertaining, suspenseful, and fun. The Shallows gave me that hope. Now it is finally time to see if it the film lives up to my expectations.
The Shallows stars Blake Lively and is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. It tells the tale of a young woman, Nancy, on vacation surfing off the coast of an island her mother once told her about. Her paradise like vacation soon turns to a nightmare as she is attacked by a massive Great White Shark. Finding safety some distance away from the shore on a small rock, she must find a way to make it to safety, as the blood thirsty beast stalks her and waits for his own moment to strike. An isolation survival film. Think Cast Away meets Jaws. In terms of tone, not as much as quality of a film.
Not for nothing, but like I said it is safe to say I was insanely exited for this film. I had no doubt that I was going to enjoy this movie. Could it live up to my own expectations? Well, I’d have to say, yes it does! It has an amazingly epic feel to it, with an incredibly dramatic feel to it. The tension is real, and literally had me sitting on the edge of my seat nearly the entire film. Few jump scares, but enough fear to make you feel it.
Blake Lively was great in the role as well. It takes a lot to carry a film by yourself. Not everyone can do it. Ask Collin Farrell about Phone Booth, and he wasn’t even totally alone. Lively does a great job making you feel the tension and the pain that she is going through. You believe her performance full heartedly. While Tom Hanks had Wilson the Volleyball to the play off of, Blake wasn’t entirely alone. Her costar, Steven Seagull, a Seagull played by Sully “Steven” Seagull helps makes her even more believable. That seagull deserves an Oscar. Or at least a Jeebus Award.
The CGI is pretty good too. There are not really too many moments that I was taken out of the film. Maybe once or twice, but for the most part the Shark looked pretty legit. The shadowy figure in the water is terrifying, and when he actually comes out of the water, it’s like watching air jaws on Discovery Channel. This thing is massive and scary.
The story is basic but it didn’t need to be anything over the top. It is an isolation survival story, and it knows its lane, and stays in it. It never really tries to be anything crazy or over the top. The shark has a few issues, but not enough to really through the story out of whack. You believe she finds a way to survive and get through what she’s going through, through well placed exposition, that isn’t overbearing or unneeded.
The island they shot at, Lord Howe Island is absolutely beautiful. An island off the coast of Australia toward New Zealand was the perfect place to create what the “natives” called Paradise. Absolutely beautiful water, and amazing views. An island that despite the insane shark that inhabited it in this film, I would love to visit. With some awesome waves. They made me want to pick back up my old surf board that I never learned to use and get some lessons! The only location issue I had in the film is that one scene takes place in Galveston Texas at the beach. And the water is just as beautiful. Not true folks. Don’t see this film and say yes, I want to go to Galveston and expect that.
The issues in the film a few and far in between. Like I said there a few times you notice that the shark is CG, but not enough to take you out of the film. As well the Shark seems insanely too patient and smart. Knowing what I do about sharks, thank you Shark Week, I don’t see this premise ever really playing out. But that is not what it is meant to be. It is a film to entertain you, leave you in suspense. And it does that well. This is no Jaws. You don’t get to know Lively’s Nancy like you do the characters in Jaws, but you still pull full her and want to see her fight through this terrible situation.
The score is always a negative I had with the film. While it has a pretty decent soundtrack early on, the score is never really noticeable. Which I guess could be considered a good thing. A score should add to a film, not be taking away or outshine. However there is nothing iconic like the Jaws theme. And while it is probably not fair to continually compare Jaws and The Shallows, it is the world we live. Jaws was and is the measuring stick when it comes to shark films.
All in all, The Shallows is suspenseful and fun. A well written and executed film. The shark is realistic enough, and terrifying. Blake Lively is believable and great in her role. The visuals are stunning, the tension is dramatic. This is by all means a well done film. One you should try to go see in film. One that I think I will enjoy for years to come. I gave it a score of 3.4 with a .2 Jeebus bonus for Blake Lively. So that is the Shallows. What say you Jackass Nation, are you excited for this film? What is your favorite isolation, survival or shark film, excluding Jaws? Sound off in the comments below! And remember, it is what it is!
The Jeebus Score explained
The Jeebus score is out of a possible 5 points with a .5 bonus. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Entertainment Value, Story/Writing, Performance, Direction, and Production. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 5.5 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.