The Shallows SPOILER-FREE Review
The Shallows was a movie I was actually really looking forward to. I hadn't seen the trailer until recently, but since then I have been eager to see the movie. The movie looked like it could be a lot of fun, and Blake Lively is a really good actress. Of course, this had the potential to be just a higher-budget SyFy movie; a discount Jaws-wannabe. Or it could be a quality thriller that offers some high-octane action and excitement. Leaving the film, I was satisfied. It certainly had its Jaws tribute moments, but it also stands on its own as an action-packed and gripping thriller that delivers on being a fun time at the theaters.
After going too far out from the beach into the waters, Nancy (Lively) is trapped in a great white shark's feeding ground, and must nurse an injured leg and fight in order to survive the animal's wrath.
I really liked this film. The first two acts are fantastic. The movie is slow to introduce the shark, which is a smart move on the filmmakers' part. It allows for us to know and connect to Nancy more as a character, so we actually care about her when sh*t goes down. They introduce some of her backstory, which may feel a bit forced, but is necessary in adding more depth to this character and making her more than just the target the audience wants to see get eaten. This easily could have been a stupid little movie where people are rooting for the shark to get this dumb girl, but instead The Shallows turns Nancy into a powerful character whom you want to see overcome this situation and defeat this shark.
While The Shallows does employ a lot of Jaws techniques, it does so in a loving kind of way. Of course, we have the classic shot from underwater, looking up at the swimmer. We see only a fin of the shark, or a quick glimpse. This less-is-more mentality is what made Jaws great, and for two-thirds of The Shallows, it does the same. You are more terrified of this shark because you don't see it. It adds to the suspense. Lively also gives a really good performance, one that makes this more than just some sh*tty SyFy movie. The film also has great cinematography, which makes it stand out. There are some breath-taking shots of the ocean and the waves, as well as underwater shots that add to the richness of the film. It makes the viewing experience a whole lot more enjoyable.
Where this film starts to go downhill is the third act. It's here that the movie begins to get a little too big and outrageous, and drifts from being a serious thriller to more of a SyFy movie. We get to see a lot more of the shark, and that takes away a lot of the scariness and anticipation. I mean, you had to see the shark at some point, but it shows too much too often. The movie becomes less subtle, and you're hit with a bombastic, giant ending that doesn't fit the rest of the movie. It doesn't ruin the film by any means, but its a third act that disappoints, because the rest of film is so good. This honestly could have been one of my favorite films of the year, and had all the makings to be, but the last act disappoints and lessens the lasting effect this movie could have had.
Overall, The Shallows is a really good movie. Its first two acts are fantastic, filled with a lot of subtle shark moments and great action. There are times you are truly on the edge of seat, covering your eyes. For a PG-13 film, it is really intense and awfully bloody. I'm not sure how it wasn't rated R, but that's beside the point. Blake Lively gives a great performance, and because the film takes its time in the beginning and injects some background for the character, you care about her when she's fighting for her life. The cinematography is great, and you see some breath-taking shots in this film. But unfortunately, the third act isn't as high quality as the previous two, and falls more into the realm of a SyFy film than a true action thriller. This movie is really good, but it could have been so much better had the third act been reworked a bit more.
What do you think? Have you seen The Shallows? Did you like it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below.
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