This weekend, I sucked it up and saw The Shallows.
While surfing on a secret Mexican beach, med school drop-out Nancy (Blake Lively) finds herself in a life and death struggle against a Great White shark.
First, let me be clear. When I said “sucked it up”, I didn’t mean in preparation of a bad film, I meant that this would be another endurance test against my intense fear of sharks. I love shark movies, but they very often put a sizable strain on my faculties.
The Shallows, or as it was previously known, In The Deep, was another film for which I had previously read the script. I naturally had a visceral response to it and was happy to see it get plucked off The Black List and produced by Columbia.
Overall, I think it works. At eighty-six minutes, it was a pretty tight affair, with journeyman director Jaume Collet-Serra using all the tools in his arsenal to milk the tension. Lively was solid in a very physical role (you can see some very real battle wounds on her face in the climax) and despite some boneheaded movie decisions, she was fairly likable.
Of course, the other important element was the shark itself. There was a running joke with me and my friends who read the script about how many times the phrase “THE SHARK EXPLODES OUT OF THE WATER” was used – literally half a dozen – and it did happen a lot. Those were unfortunately the points that strained the CGI the most. It was never Sharknado bad, but still made me say less of that please, as it was the underwater stuff that was more successful to varying degrees. However, that still didn’t stop me from jumping out of my seat at the prologue scare. It made me simultaneously relieved that I went by myself, yet also question why I sat so close to the screen.
|This pic is actually very difficult for me to look at.|
The aforementioned tweaks to the script made things a little more cinematic, only somewhat suspending reality in doing so. I mean, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? I feel there was some dialogue removed, but was glad that the bits with “Steven Seagull” still remained intact. He was a cool little guy. Perhaps most successful was how technology, namely Instagram and Face-Time, were integrated in the film. This kind of narrative has been evolving over the last fifteen years and when it’s done well, it really works.
|Actually a better actor than his namesake.|
So, for people who rank films like Open Water and The Reef among their most visceral film experiences, this will definitely (ahem) float your boat. It was a stressful experience for me – and I even knew what was going to happen! - but a cathartic one. For others, maybe you won't get as much out of it. As far as script to screen goes, this was a pretty accurate execution of writer Anthony Jawinski's vision.
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