HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Shallows
HTS Overall Score:87
Everyone has their phobias in life. For some it is fear of spiders. For others it is fear of the dark, or fear of closed spaces. Just something that absolutely will drive you batty with fear for no apparent reason. Mine happens to be two fold. I have an abject sense of TERROR over snakes (even garter snakes are pure evil), and the second is sharks. My stinking swimming coach would play the jaws theme song through the underwater PA system. Something that was amplified 10 fold by the fact that I was a 7 year old boy who had seen jaws for the first time that year. Yeah, so I don’t think I can ever go near the water again without having a very vivid imagination go into overdrive and start imagining terrors from the deep. “The Shallows” dips into that realm of fear and terror when the entire premise is about a young woman getting stranded on a rock in the ocean after being attacked by a giant shark.
A young surfer by the name of Nancy (Blake Lively) is about to have a fantastically cruddy day today. Everything starts out ok. She’s on the beaches of Mexico having some great surf time with her friend, when she decides to go visit the beach her mother visited when she was pregnant with Nancy. A lonely, deserted beach. It stretches on for miles of beautiful sand and just the ocean to keep her company. Proceeding into the ocean Nancy makes a horrible mistake. She stumbles upon the feeding of a great white shark upon a whale and has the misfortune of the great beast attacking her out of protection of his food. Barely making it to a small reef a few hundred yards off the shore, Nancy is stuck out in the middle of the ocean with a bite wound on her leg and no way back to the shore except THROUGH the shark.
To make matters worse, the shark is more than a bit ticked off too. Circling the shoal that Nancy was able to take refuge on, it keeps her from making a swim to the beach where she can call for help. Now the young surfer is stranded in the ocean with the only person who knows that she is there miles away without any knowledge of her predicament. Still, just because you’re stuck in the ocean doesn’t mean you have to give up. Gathering up all the wits at her disposal and a few bits of cloth, Nancy makes a desperate stand against the great white and hopes against hope that SOMEONE will see her out there and bring help.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80522[/img]“The Shallows” is a technically simple movie. There is no giant setup. There is no half hour of backstory about motivations. We’re just thrust into the movie within a few minutes and let the maelstrom take you away. With that being said, the simplicity of the movie is also a benefit. With 87 minutes of runtime there is very little time to sit around pontificate towards the audience anything other than the raw survival of this 24 hour period (ish) for Nancy. You’re drawn right into the story after the initial shark attack as the encounter comes out of nowhere and shocks you almost as much as it does Nancy. Getting onto her little shoal is just the beginning.
Being a PG-13 shark attack movie I wasn’t sure how intense the film was going to be. You can’t show ALL that much with a PG-13 movie, and while this isn’t a blood and gore fest, the intensity of the movie is never under any doubt. There's actually a scene where someone gets munched by the shark, and while they can't show a whole ton of the actual attack, you get to watch Nancy's reaction as she sees the guy being eaten alive and that adds a really interesting sense of dread and imagination to the scene. Blake’s portrayal of Nancy is excellent as she struggles for survival out in the middle of the ocean. The great white is a giant predator, and with its feeding ground under attack the shark itself make for a great “villain” (so to speak). The movie is also pretty much a one girl show, with only a few scenes with other people in them. However, there is a really satisfying and disturbing scene where a drunk guy comes in to steal her clothing and backpack on the beach and has a slightly stereotypical meeting with our giant finned friend.
I do have to say though. As much raw intensity and fun as I had with the film, the ending went a little bit off the rails. I won’t spoil what exactly happens, but I was slightly disappointed with the way they turned the last 10 minutes into an action movie cliché with Nancy going all super hero mode on us and the shark changing from just being an instinctual predator who was doing what his instincts prodded him to do, and turning it into a horror movie cliché. It wasn’t a horrible ending, but it was just slightly off enough to feel slightly disjointed with the rest of the more realistic movie.
Rated PG - 13 for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80530[/img]Shot mainly using the Arri Alexa cameras (and a few shots that come from an actual GoPRO head mounted camera), “The Shallows” is an absolutely GORGEOUS looking film that pops off the screen at the viewer. Shot on location on a Mexican beach, the imagery is stunning as you can imagine. The blues of the oceans and the reds of the blood in the water is simply fantastic, with strong color saturation and a dazzling display differing shades. The beauty of the ocean is varied and intricate, range from deep blues out in the sea, with the clear waters close to the shoals, and the white froth coming from the waves crashing onto the sandy shore. There is a scene where Nancy makes a run for the buoy and has to cut through a conglomeration of jellyfish that is simply color and detail overload. Blacks are sickeningly deep and inky, with great shadow detail and NO crush that I could see. Fine detail is razor sharp, with every cut and gash on Nancy’s like disgustingly visible for all to see, and you can actually make out the individual grains of sand sticking to her legs as she sits on the dirty rock. Absolutely reference material from beginning to end.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80538[/img]The audio is not AS perfect as the video, but it is still an amazing audio track nonetheless. At the time of this review I was not able to get ahold of the 4K UltraHD release which sports a Dolby Atmos track (or 7.1 TrueHD track for those without the equipment), but the regular Blu-ray happens to house a 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio file. A trend that is a bit saddening, especially with such a short movie that could have EASILY had room to add it in. Still, I digress. The 5.1 track on the disc is still quite a stunner, with a fantastic ambiance to it. There are large period of time where you’re just listening to the background noise of the ocean trickle in from the surrounds and mains, but then there are also some amazing sequences that are full of raw power and intense LFE, especially when the shark attacks or the waves are crashing down while Nancy makes her way out for the first time. Dialog is crystal clear and intelligible at all times, overall the track is simply amazing.
• Four Featurettes:
- Shooting in The Shallows
- How to Build a Shark
- Finding The Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island
- When Sharks Attack
• Deleted Scenes
“The Shallows” is not a perfect shark movie, or even a wildly intelligent one. But what it lacks in depth it makes up intensity and sheer entertainment value. The movie is incredibly simple, but that is also the charm that keeps you watching the screen in trepidation and excitement. You’re just waiting for that shark to try and take a bit out of her and watch as Nancy makes every dangerous and almost foolhardy move she can in order to stay alive. Audio and video are absolutely STUNNING for this Blu-ray release, and while the extras are a tad slim, the movie is still a wild and bumpy ride. Definitely worth a good watch.
Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: Anthony Jaswinksi
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept 27th, 2016
Buy The Shallows On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Shallows On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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