By Josh Krubner
I’m gonna say that the people who are espousing this viewpoint haven’t seen: Sharknado 2, Deep Blue Sea, and oh yea, a little thing called Jaws 2.
JAWS is perfection. We know that. Jaws 2, however, gets a bad rap from people who saw JAWS 3-D or JAWS: The Revenge on edited basic cable and automatically assumed that all of the sequels sucked. Jaws 2 is a masterpiece next to The Shallows.
The Shallows has a little under an hour and a half run-time…and that’s still 25 minutes too long. The jarring tonal shifts due to strange "elecno-dance" music and real-time text messaging - a trend that has infected all areas of media and needs to stop IMMEDIATELY - make you spend the entirety of Act 1 asking “when do we get to the shark? Is this shark only gonna be in like five minutes of the movie?”
Blake Lively does the best with what she has, which includes Cast Away style talking to herself and her stranded seagull friend that plays much more Martian than Cast Away, and grunting. She looks great in her bikini, and that was the clear message Collet-Serra wanted to get across. This movie might as well have been a sequel or a prequel for her character in Savages, but doesn’t measure up to her actually “acting” like she did in The Town.
We go through more surfing montages and tonally shifting music as Nancy is left in the water with a warning that night is coming. Now, I purposely wrote my review thus far the way it has been presented, because that’s what the movie did. Our film begins with a scene from “the ending” or “After the ending” leaving the fate of the characters unknown…except the scene could have taken place the day before the events of the film. It’s a scene not unlike the opening of JAWS 2 where a go-pro was a an old timey “camera”. It’s also very reminiscent of the “Raptor Cage” intro in Jurassic Park, which as we know, sets up the plot for that entire movie. Any and all questions are immediately dispelled, as we meet the two surfers, and one is of course wearing the yet to be chewed up helmet and go-pro camera.
Going back to that unforgivable moment, Nancy’s "expobacktion" is that she dropped out of Med School (or rather just took a leave of absence) because her mother had VERY recently died of cancer. She has tracked down her mother’s “secret beach” In some remote Mexican paradise – despite NOT knowing the name of it.
We get the sweet coming of age, legacy mantra of the mother’s beach, and the rocks shaped like a fertility goddess (at least they are to Nancy) and we get the THIRD person to specifically caution Nancy “be careful." Aside from the fact that this was setting up what could have been a perfect dark and twisted thriller, a monkey with a broken pencil could easily see that the nefarious name of the beach and second act shocking reveal would be something like “SHARK COVE”, home of the sharks, that the locals feed stray Americans to, not unlike Mayor Lenny in JAWS. Right? Well, remember that thought, and also remember that Nancy had a train wreck of a friend who bailed on her to nurse a hangover and hook up with her found vacation boy-toy. I know this, because I was forced to sit through SIX minutes of on screen text messaging about it.
Right so, Act Two, night falls - late afternoon anyway. Nancy spots a giant chewed up whale and follows some dolphins right to it… at which point she realizes “that’s a giant chewed up whale! Oh shit!” The shark attacks, and despite a horrifically cartoony sea of crimson, Nancy receives one of the tamest shark bites in recorded fictional history. Also remember that Hooper was sure the shark in JAWS was a “twenty footer," and Quint affirmed “twenty-five (three tons of him)." By JAWS 3-D, the Shark was 150ft long. The Shallows Shark is somewhere between the two and looks absolutely ridiculous at all times.
Nancy ends up on top of the whale, and then on a rock, and the shark has gone. Any reasonable person sitting through an hour and a half “survival” movie they purposely didn’t watch the trailer for, immediately pegged this as the “Revenant Bear”, and with the attack ended, our CGI foe had surely left the movie. Right? Wrong.
The Shallows swims into Sharknado territory as the Shark makes the shark from JAWS: The Revenge look like it didn’t even understand the dictionary definition of “personal.”
Defying any and all sharkery and proving that next to no research was done on this movie, medically, or sharkily - Nancy self-sutures her leg wound and then ties a tourniquet that would surely cause her leg to fall off inside of two hours, let alone 36. The Shark goes from waiting 50-100 feet away from shore (sitting perfectly still in said shallows) to doing a bizarre cycle that can be timed from whale to Nancy’s rock to other rock and back again.
The Shark baits a drunk man on the beach who robbed Nancy, and bites him in half. The maid who cleans up the fallen zombies from Resident Evil, not only hides the body, but the blood as well, so the Shark can then wait in the same spot and get Nancy’s two surfing companions as they arrive the next morning, one in hilarious straight out of Deep Blue Sea fashion, and the other with no visual at all as they just didn’t feel like animating it.
Nancy resigns herself to the rock, and then the ridiculous Third Act plays out and it’s even more ridiculous than the entire Baywatch episode “Shark Fever.”
Nancy makes it back to the shore and no one ever again asks about the name of the beach. Oh, but Steven Segal made it. And that’s all that matters. The Shallows is not…very deep. This one has “wait for cable” all over it.
I’d give it a 6/10 or a C.