Monday, July 11, 2016

The Shallows

The Shallows (2016)

Blake Lively plays a girl who dropped out of med school to go surf in Mexico after her mom died of cancer. Unfortunately for her, the secluded beach that has sentimental value to her mother and sweet waves also has a gigantic, bloodthirsty great white shark patrolling its waters. What follows is a battle of wits between the former med student and a big angry fish.

The movie looked great. The cinematography was gorgeous, and the surfing stuff made surfing look fun. I don’t surf because I have a deep terror of water, but, you know, it looks pretty cool. I also really liked how they did the phone stuff – cell phones are obviously a huge part of everybody’s life but I haven’t seen them incorporated into a movie in such a stylish and visually interesting way before.
So in all the technical filmmaking aspects this movie was acceptable. I’ve never seen Blake Lively in anything before but I heard her name on the radio so I assume she is important, anyway, her acting was good. This is one of those movies where the main character is in horrible debilitating pain for ninety percent of the time they’re on screen, and she made it convincingly cringey. 

That being said, the real MVP of this movie, the only character that was even remotely interesting was the seagull. It had an air of mystery that Blake Lively’s character did not, and, unlike Lively, I was unsure as to whether the seagull would survive to the end of the movie, which made me genuinely concerned for its safety.

Anyway, that’s all the good things I have to say about this movie. I am a little bit impressed that they managed to make a movie about a gigantic shark swimming around eating people so boring, although the fact that the main character basically doesn’t move for an hour doesn’t help with that.

While I understand that there are only so many things to make a movie about, but this movie is literally Gravity but instead of a comet or whatever the fuck the thing in Gravity was, it’s a shark. And, you know, Sandra Bullock is a better actor than Blake Lively and Alfonso Cuaron is a way better filmmaker than Jaume Collet-Serra, the guy responsible for such films as House of Wax (the Paris Hilton one) and Orphan. The predictability made it really hard for me to really give a shit about what happened.

Another reason giving a shit was nearly impossible is the almost insultingly trite main character. The only reason we’re supposed to care about her is because, you know, she’s cute, and also her mom died of cancer but she was a fighter so like if Blake can fight off the shark than it’ll be like her mom’s cancer battle wasn’t for nothing or something fucking stupid. Fun fact: shit like that doesn’t make me go “oh wow, she has such an interesting backstory I hope she survives this ordeal”, it makes me go “you can’t make me feel feels, I’m onto you, you bastards”

The shark was also kind of disappointing. I have often complained about the use and abuse of CG in movies, and I’m going to again because a CG shark does not do it for me. I will grant that they used to shark fairly sparingly, but the final woman versus shark battle left a lot to be desired. Which is too bad because the only reason I actually went to see this movie was because there was a shark in it and I really like sharks.

Furthermore, although I am by no means an expert on sharks or their behaviour – I consider myself to be more a fan of sharks than an amateur sharkologist  - I do understand a little bit about basic predator behaviour and I do not for one minute buy that if a shark had a dead, rotting whale carcass in front of it, it would waste its time fucking around with a live human. Like there’s a part where it swims through a field of stinging jellyfish, and another part where it basically eats a buoy trying to get at this girl and I’m like, there’s easily accessible food RIGHT FUCKING THERE. Unless it considered her to be a threat or competition, it would probably leave her alone.

Speaking of competition, I also don’t buy that there was only one predator animal there. To quote something my dad used to say to me about wildlife, "where there's one there are probably more" and the big juicy dead whale and buckets of blood in the water would likely attract another shark. Even if not another great white, there are other types of shark in those waters that would probably do some damage if hungry or provoked.

So, you know, that’s sort of annoying. My final qualm with this movie comes in the form of a spoiler so if you’re still gung ho about seeing it than I guess turn away now. Are you ready for the spoiler? 

The girl makes it. She wins the fight with the shark. That’s right, the only way that she can survive is to kill the majestic beast, which I will remind everybody is actually a protected species. Yeah. I didn’t feel satisfied by that at all. I mean, I get it, the shark symbolizes her mother’s death and by defeating the shark and surviving she is really defeating her grief and getting on with her life. Whatever. My dad died but I didn’t feel the need to go throttle a California Condor to stop feeling sad.

All in all this movie was not very interesting, and I would have been way happier if the shark had eaten the girl.  


Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra.  Written by: Anthony Jaswinski.  Starring: Blake Lively, Sully the Seagull.

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