Review: “The Shallows” Does Everything Right Except For the Shark Scenes



Title: The Shallows
Genre: ,
Reviewed By:




Total Score

User Rating
no ratings yet


Posted June 30, 2016 by

Full Article

Alright. Let’s address the elephant in the room: no movie will ever be “The new ‘Jaws'”. Not that there won’t be another shark movie that is done really well; ‘The Reef‘ is the best out of all of them. The reason there can never be a new ‘Jaws’ is because it’s the original movie that made us terrified of the water and, yes, you can give me more reasons for why I shouldn’t want to find myself too far out in the ocean, but ‘Jaws’ will always be the main reason I’m terrified. Sorry. It’s just every review I’ve seen for this film tries to compare it to, or claim it’s better than, Jaws and that’s just ridiculous.

What is true about this movie is Collet-Serra’s direction is some of the best of the year. In a day-and-age where we are all looking for CGI, all disenchanted for the most part with what movies are able to accomplish, Collet-Serra is able to capture the feeling of being out in the middle of the water with all of the unknown just below your dangling feet. The look and feel of this movie is what makes it succeed as much as it does because you truly feel like you’re out there with the characters; transporting your audience is one of the hardest things to do. Unfortunately all of that beautiful cinematography and direction isn’t supported at all by the weak script it’s shooting off of. Screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski could have written a tighter film, but instead we’re supposed to believe that this is the most brilliant shark (or anything for that matter) to have ever lived. Nancy (Blake Lively) finds herself trapped out in the middle of the ocean because this shark is not interested in the whale it was feasting on before she stumbled into it’s area, it doesn’t get bored waiting for her to finally jump off the rock that is keeping her from being shark food, it’s only interested in her. It circles her for almost two days; letting her have moments of feeling she could possibly make it safely back to land before it blocks her way and thwarts any plan she may have had. When she’s clinging to the earlier mentioned dead whale in order to get out of the water, the shark is smart enough to push the whale further way from the beach; causing her to have to find a new hiding spot. It also brilliantly allows people to get deep enough in the water to come help Nancy before it ultimately tears them to shreds; reminding her there’s no way out of this.


What this made me think is maybe this shark is not interested in eating. Maybe it’s like the ultimate ocean troll; terrorizing anyone that gets too far out for it’s own enjoyment. Perhaps it’s a medically engineered shark that escaped from a close by lab and is all hopped up on steroids. What seems to be the point of the movie though is that this shark was once attacked by a human and now any time it gets one in its sight, it wants payback for that one person that left a hook in its mouth. It’s a catty shark that can’t let go of the past and that’s why Nancy ends up fighting for her life. So this shark swims around her for a day and a half, chews through metal in order to get closer to her, and won’t rest until she’s dead…ya know….because of the hook in its mouth.

Another reason the script really didn’t do it for me is because at no point was anyone really going to let Blake Lively’s character die in this movie. It’s just never going to happen; American audiences don’t want to leave unhappy. They want to feel like they can escape sharks and tell the story. So the question is how will she survive? Unfortunately I found the answer to that question and while I will obviously not spoil anything for anyone, I will say that I laughed out loud at the ending. I was so surprised by the sheer stupidity of the situation that I couldn’t control myself.

One of the other things that distracted me from enjoying this film was the fact that Nancy never seems to get dehydrated or lose energy, focus, or body strength. She’s been sitting on a rock, bleeding profusely, for a day and a half with no food and no water (just a seagull that inexplicably keeps her company and ends up getting named Steven Seagull) and yet shows no signs of weakness. It would have been great if Jaswinski could have worked that angle into the film; possibly even gone the way of her fever and subsequent hallucinations causing her to believe this shark had a personal vendetta when in fact it had left after the first incident. Instead it’s just ignored altogether because she’s a superhuman, just like her foe is a supershark.

Every shark movie from here on out should take a page from the ‘Jaws’ handbook and not show the shark as much. The fear comes from what could be, not always what is. While the shark in this film actually looked pretty realistic, it was its unrealistic actions that led me to not really care about this movie by the ending credits.

*Some things to look for and laugh about while watching this movie: The drunk Mexican on the beach that steals all of her belongings yet decides to swim out to get her floating surfboard. Also the fact that at one point a flair gun sets the ocean water on fire as if there was an unexplained oil spill.*ShallowsFlair





    Re: the ocean water catching fire – The flare ignites a slick of oil emanating from the dead whale carcass. Whale oil was used for decades as lamp fuel, so this isn’t entirely unreasonable.


      Maybe. But the shark subsequently leaping out of the water while on fire? That was something out of Sharknado, not a movie that seemed to be going for realism earlier on.

Leave a Response