So this is some fun timing in regards to today’s movie. I mean, Shark Week is wrapping up this weekend on Discovery Channel and Sharknado week is starting tomorrow on Syfy. Which means my watching a shark movie today is absolutely the most appropriate thing to be doing right now. To be fair, any time is appropriate to be watching a shark movie but that’s another story. So I remember the commercials for this movie when it came out last year and they said the same thing EVERY shark movie says in their commercials; “This is the best shark movie since Jaws.” Hollywood needs to stop using that pitch because the second I hear it, my opinion of the movie immediately drops and I it becomes harder to win me over. With that being said, let’s see just how good of a movie The Shallows really is.
The plot: On a secluded beach in Mexico, a young boy is playing with a soccer ball when he notices a helmet with a GoPro attached to it. When the boy plays the video recorded on the camera, he sees video of a some surfers and one of them being attacked by a great white shark, which sends the boy running down the beach. A few days earlier, Nancy Adams is being driven to the beach by a local man named Carlos. Along the way, she explains that her mom had come to the beach when she was pregnant with Nancy and she always thought of it as their beach, but this is the first time she has ever been able to come to it. Nancy gets upset when her friend is not able to join them but overcomes the disappointment as she talks to Carlos and they finally come to the beach. After staring in joy at the beach, Nancy tries to give Carlos some money for taking her there but he refuses, saying he lives close by and was going the same way and tells her to be careful as he leaves. Putting her gear up out of the tidal area, Nancy grabs her surfboard and heads out into the water, surfing with two locals that are also there. After surfing for a while, Nancy heads back to the beach and video calls her younger sister and shows her where she is at. After talking to her for a while, Nancy’s father gets on the phone and talks to Nancy, trying to convince her to come home and not drop out of med school but Nancy tells him he wouldn’t understand and quickly says she loves him before hanging up. Nancy heads back out into the water to surf some more but the two locals are heading in, suggesting she leave as well. After watching the locals load their gear into their jeep, Nancy gets a little nervous about how quiet it is and lays on top of her board. When a pod of dolphins swim by her, with one of them leaping out of the water over her. Nancy paddles after the dolphins a little ways but stops when she sees the carcass of a humpback whale, with several huge bites taken out of it’s flesh. Feeling scared, Nancy quickly paddles away and catches the next wave towards shore but as she is surfing, a large shark bumps into the board, knocking her into the water and causing the surfboard’s tether to snap due to the current. When Nancy surfaces, she starts swimming back towards her surfboard when a great white shark suddenly bites her in the leg and drags her back underwater. Nancy manages to get free and swims towards the whale’s carcass, climbing on top of it in order to get away from the shark. Seeing the damage done to her leg, Nancy uses the tether strap to make a makeshift tourniquet to keep from bleeding to death, then frantically yells out for help but the two locals don’t hear her and drive away. Suddenly, the shark starts dragging the carcass further away from the beach and Nancy tries to figure out what she can do. She sees a buoy nearby but decides it is too far away for her to make it and decides to head for an outcrop of rocks that have begun to rise out of the water as the tide moves out. When the shark charges at the whale and strikes it in the hopes of knocking Nancy back into the water, Nancy jumps off the whale and frantically swims to the rocks. She manages to make it there and climbs on top of them, cutting her foot on some coral in the process, but finds herself completely alone, except for a seagull which had been wounded by one of the whale’s flukes hitting it. Using her jewelry, Nancy begins stitching up the wound in her leg, then uses her wet-suit to try and keep it dry and, hopefully free of infection, before settling in to wait out the night. As night falls, Nancy takes the wet suit off her leg and then rips off one of the sleeves, then pulls the sleeve over her injured leg as a makeshift compression bandage. Nancy passes out briefly from the pain and comes too to find some crabs crawling around and on her. Nancy smashes one of them and attempts to eat it but quickly vomits it back up, which the injured seagull begins to eat. Seeing her surfboard floating nearby, Nancy attempts to swim out to it but she sees the shark nearby and quickly heads back to the rocks. As she catches her breath, she notices a man asleep on the beach and starts screaming for help. The man hears her and wakes up, tossing the empty liquor bottle in his hand away, before turning in her direction. Nancy yells for him to call for help but when he just stares at her, she motions towards her bag. The man heads to her bag and proceeds to go through it, pocketing the money and phone before shouldering the bag and starting to walk off. When the man notices the surfboard, he puts the bag down and heads out into the water to grab it and Nancy yells out a warning but is too late as the shark drags the man underwater and ends up biting him in half. The next morning, the two surfers from yesterday have returned to the beach and the seagull starts squawking to alert Nancy to their presence. Nancy starts yelling at them to get out of the water and get help but they don’t believe her. When one of the surfers is killed by the shark, the other one starts paddling towards Nancy, who moves down on the rock to try and help him but he is dragged underwater. After a a broken surf board is launched out of the water, the surfer appears and tries climbing up the rocks and Nancy grabs him to help but the shark drags the man back underwater and kills him. Nancy uses the broken surfboard to shield her from the sun, but with less than an hour before the rock’s become submerged again, she is running out of options as to what to do. Nancy manages to grab the seagull, who she starts calling Steven Seagull, and after seeing that it’s wing is merely dislocated, pops it back into place, saying now it has a chance to live. Noticing the helmet with the GoPro that one of the surfers was wearing floating nearby, Nancy times the shark’s route from the whale’s carcass to the rocks and makes a dash for the camera. Nancy manages to grab it, injuring herself some more in the process but as she holds onto the camera, the shark tries to grab her. Nancy injures herself again avoiding the shark but the shark is also injured by the coral as it tries to attack her. After viewing the footage of the guys surfing and how the last surfer was killed, Nancy noticed that the shark had been injured before, which possibly explains it’s aggressive behavior. With only a few minutes left before the tide covers the rock she is on, Nancy uses the GoPro to record a message detailing what happened, as well as a goodbye to her father and sister, then tosses it out towards the shore, in the hopes the tide will carry it there. Nancy then places Steven Seagull onto the piece of surfboard and sets it adrift, hoping that it will make it. As she prepares to make the swim to the buoy, Nancy notices a swarm of jellyfish entering the area and starts to feel despair, until she remembers the shark’s reaction to the coral and realizes that it might be her best chance. Nancy begins swimming towards the buoy and ends up getting stung but the jellyfish stings keep the shark at bay and allow her to reach the buoy. Nancy starts to climb up but the rusted metal gives way and she fall back into the water, right on top of the shark. Nancy stabs the shark with the piece of metal she has and manages to make it onto the buoy, avoiding the shark as it tries to attack her once again. Nancy sees a ship in the distance and finding a flare gun on the buoy, tries to signal it but the ship doesn’t see it and continues sailing away. When the shark begins attacking the anchor chains of the buoy, Nancy attempts to shoot it with the flare gun, igniting the oil from the whale’s body and setting the shark on fire briefly. The enraged shark begin attacking the buoy again, knocking two of the anchor chains free and causing it to tilt. Nancy uses the tether to tie herself to the third chain and when it breaks free, she is swiftly pulled underwater towards the bottom. The shark gives chase and just before she reaches bottom, Nancy lets go and moves to the side, causing the shark to miss her and impale itself on the metal rebar on the rock the chains were attached too. Meanwhile, the kid who found the GoPro has returned to the beach with his father, Carlos, and they see the bodies of one of the surfers. When the kid points out Nancy’s body in the water, Carlos carries her to shore, then tells his son to get help. Nancy comes too and smiles as she notices Steven Seagull had safely made it to shore before seeing a hallucination of her mother and saying out loud that she will be ok. One year later, a recovered Nancy, having finished med school and now a doctor, is on the beach in Galveston, Texas with her sister and father, and heads out into the water to teach her little sister how to surf, as her dad says he is proud of her.
The Shallows met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively.” A puppet and CGI were considered for the character of Steven Seagull but the producers wanted to use a live animal and when they saw Blake Lively feeding a group of seagulls, they realized it would be possible to use a real animal. The movie was expected to make just $7 million on it’s opening weekend but ended up earning $16.7 million, doubling expectations on it’s way to making $119.1 million off of a $17 million budget.
There were a couple of bad moments, but this was actually a pretty good movie. Blake Lively really did a great job in this movie, showing a lot of emotion to help carry the performance, as she was pretty much the only person in the movie. The story was really good and Blake Lively really sold the sense of isolation and despair she was feeling with her being the only person out there. The special effects involved with the shark were pretty good except for the last scene where it impaled itself, which looked like it belonged in one of the numerous low budget shark movies I enjoyed watching. The interaction between Nancy and Steven Seagull was a nice bit of light-heartedness to try and take away some of the despair that she was obviously feeling being trapped in her situation. Make no mistake, this isn’t going to be considered the next Jaws, but this is still an entertaining movie that is worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5