In the taut thriller, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude.
Note to filmmakers: When you make a movie, DON’T use slow motion for over 80% of your film, especially in the horror/thriller genre. It takes the audience out of the moment, as is the horrid case with the new killer shark movie ‘The Shallows‘. After sleeping on it for a night, this film might be one of the worst and silliest films to come out this year. It’s terrible filmmaking on just about every level. It’s poorly written, poorly shot, and doesn’t make a lick of sense. Blake Lively, who plays a young woman named Nancy, does a decent enough job with the material she’s given, but after reading the screenplay, I would have walked far away from this film and never looked back, even if I got to go to Australia for a few weeks and film.
There’s just so much wrong with this movie, it’s hard to decipher where to begin, but as a charming nun/babysitter said, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” We first meet Nancy (Lively) as she is being driven to a remote beach to surf while she is on vacation. It is implied that she dropped out of med school after her mother died of cancer (a horrible side story full of cheese). She’s being driven through a beautiful part of the forest to get to this amazing paradise view, but you wouldn’t know it, because the director has Nancy texting her friend the whole time, while the screen captions are displayed largely on the screen at all times in real time.
The stupid thing about this is that the camera even shows the actual phone screen in frame as well through all of this. We just miss out on all the supposed beautiful shots and cinematography. After a few minutes of this, Nancy is in the water by herself, surfing the big waves, which is when everything become slow motion for the duration of the film. Her hair flings back with water, the waves crash down, and some average surfing maneuvers are all shown in slow motion. I’m convinced that the writer and director here only had enough material for about twenty minutes of film, but made it in slow-motion to drag it out to just over 80-minutes. I’m not kidding.
Soon enough, a big killer shark chomps Nancy on the leg, the blood starts flowing, and she swims over to a nearby small rock for safety, which is about 200 yards from the beach. This is where Nancy stays basically for the duration of the film by herself. Well not really by herself, there is a seagull she names Stephen on the rock with her, who was also injured in the shark attack. No, I’m not making this up. A few people walk by on the beach, but are attacked and killed by the shark, leaving poor Nancy stranded on the rock. Nothing seems to go her way either as she talks to herself or really us, the audience in everything that she does. It’s quite annoying and everything just gets sillier and dumber all the way up to the final credits of the movie.
Do I have anything good to say about this movie? Minor things, I guess, including some good use of practical blood effects and a few minor suspenseful scenes with the shark, but that’s about it. From Nancy’s phone getting internet access on the remote beach in the middle of nowhere, to the seagull that always seems to have the answer, to the ‘JAWS‘ wink where Nancy tells the shark to go screw itself as she shoots a gun - it all just falls insanely flat and makes you roll your eyes and wish you hadn’t spend 80 minutes watching this movie.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Shallows' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Sony and is Region A Locked. There is a digital download code included here too. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a lenticular sleeve.
'The Shallows' comes with an excellent 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This is a very good video presentation that showcases all aspects of detail and color. Taking place on the beach of Australia, the colors are rich with blue oceans and skies and at times the green leaves of the trees right by the beach. The blood is a bright red, which really pops off screen too. Nothing is really muted here and looks very natural and vibrant. The detail is sharp and vivid throughout as well.
Every drop of water, sweat, and blood can be seen easily and every rugged feather on Steven Seagull stands out nicely. The CG shark looks impressive too, showcasing the scars and skin of the animal. Slow motion shots show every droplet in splashes and individual hairs on Blake Lively's head. The black levels are very deep and inky and the flesh tones are natural. Wider shots and darker scenes look impressive as well with zero compression issues. Needless to say, this is a great video presentation.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix and sounds great. The sound effects of the waves crashing down, water splashing on the rocks, and even the wind can be heard nicely. Screams, seagulls, or other beach goers sound great on the surrounds with some decent directionality. The bigger action moments turn things to eleven, which is when the bass kicks into high gear, but never goes into the rocky territory.
Each sound effect here is robust and packs a good punch. The score and music always adds to the suspense of the film and even adventure in the earlier scenes. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow as well, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and high shrills. This is a great audio presentation for sure.
When Sharks Attack (HD, 8 Mins.) - A short little interview with a shark attack survivor and some experts discussing shark attacks.
Shooting in the Shallows (HD, 6 Mins.) - Some interviews and footage, discussing shooting the film on water on location, as well as on a sound stage. Blake Lively's training are also talked about here.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 5 Mins.) - Three deleted scenes are here, all of which are worth watching if you enjoyed the movie.
How to Build a Shark (HD, 7 Mins.) - An inside look at how the shark was created both in practical effects and on computer.
Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island (HD, 6 Mins.) - This extra focuses on the location used for filming, detailing the pros and cons of the beautiful beach.
Trailers (HD, 8 Mins.) - Trailers for other Sony titles.
I know a lot of people really enjoyed 'The Shallows', however I am not one of them. I think the film is poorly made, shot, and edited. The story is awful and never really makes any sense. Maybe it's not supposed to. That being said, I know some of you will really enjoy this movie, plus Blake lively turns in a somewhat decent performance. On the other hand, the video and audio presentations here are very good if you are coming in from a technical standpoint. The bonus features are all fairly short and not all that interesting. I wish this were a better film, but if you're curious about a modern shark movie with Blake Lively, then give this a look.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.