Friday, September 09, 2016

'The Shallows' Is the Best Shark-Attack Thriller in the Last Four Decades

Ever since Jaws basically invented the summer blockbuster more than 40 years ago, a multitude of shark movies have attempted – including subpar Jaws sequels – to replicate it through the years.  I did find several of them entertaining.  But not in the way that made Jaws an iconic film – a masterpiece.  I enjoyed Deep Blue Sea, but it’s dumb and absurd.  And then there are movies like Ghost Shark and Sharnado, only “entertaining” because they’re so ridiculously over-the-top and hilariously godawful.

The Shallows is also no Jaws.  But it does a fresh approach on the whole thing, and is an effectively thrilling and good-looking movie in general.  In fact, it’s probably the best crafted shark thriller since Jaws.

The movie is about a medical student named Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) who, in a way of coping for the loss of her mother to a terminal illness, looks for and finds a beautiful, secluded beach in Mexico, which her mother visited many years ago when she was pregnant with Nancy.  A surfing enthusiast, she spends many hours having a great time riding the fine waves of the area.  But in what she intends to be her last surf for the day, she suddenly gets attacked by a great white shark.  Terrified and injured, she swims toward a giant rock, leaving her stranded 200 yards from shore.  With the shark patiently encircling her and waiting for high tide, Nancy has to rely on her wits and resolve to figure out how to survive.
Blake Lively is awesome in this movie – the best performance of her career, in my opinion.  Just as I observed in the past, she really has an alluring screen presence – something that can only be rivaled by a Margot Robbie – and is a compelling actress.  She proves once more that she can headline and carry a movie as competently as her husband, Deadpool.  She deserves to be given more starring roles.

The only thing that rivals Lively’s appeal in this movie is the gorgeous shots made.  They truly bring across the magnificence and beauty of its setting.  If nothing else, between its star and visuals, this movie is pleasurable in an aesthetic sense.
As a thriller, it delivers what’s expected of it.  The tension is ever present and sustained. The plot is simple but goes above hackneyed shark film tropes; its execution is smartly done.  Above all, the action is convincing and gratifying.

I had fun with The Shallows.  It probably won’t be a classic like Jaws.  But it’s a legitimate runner-up for best shark film of all time.

No comments: