After a somewhat lousy summer at the cinema during 2016, it turned out there was nothing better for blowing away the cinematic cobwebs than a small, lower-budgeted, sleeper hit that came with little or no hype with it that defies expectations and kicks heroic amounts of ass.
Over the last 10 years or so the Killer Shark genre (or Nature Run Amok genre in general) has been lost to direct to dvd idiocy. Cheap, increasingly bizarre cash cow, mash ups that have slowly chipped away at the glorious majesty of movies featuring big bastard carnivores, armed with a decent budgets, credible performances and sometimes even a hint of social commentary, in favour of Sharknadoes, Sharktopi and Ghost Sharks.
Well, not only can The Shallows proudly along side the Jaws saga, Open Water and Deep Blue Sea (surely the Con-Air of Killer Shark movies) but it’s far better than almost all of them (the original Jaws will NEVER topple). In fact, I may very well believe that it’s easily the second greatest shark movie ever made. In fact, change the character’s second name to Brody and you would have an extremely credible Jaws 5.
Plot is simplicity itself. Blake Lively’s character is abroad, trying to find herself after losing her mother to cancer. After finding the secret beach her mother once visited while pregnant with her she surfs for a bit. Suddenly she’s mauled by 8 tons of murder-fish, a massive Great White defending a chewed up whale carcass it sees as it’s territory. And so a very entertaining battle of wits erupts as stranded surfer squares up to shark-bastard in a battle to be not nom-nomed to death and turned into shark poo.
Yes, it stretches credulity on a fairly regularly basis, the shark goes beyond Velociraptor smart to become a gilled Hannibal Lector with a bigger bite radius and medical student or not, Lively’s use of earrings to pin together a gash on her leg is dubious at best but this is the point, dammit! It’s fun!! This movie exudes good old fashioned jump out of your seat, goodness (if you are the jumpy sort, I’d skip getting popcorn). It’s exciting, well plotted and paced and in her struggle to avoid becoming Blake Deadly, Blake Lively gives a great, almost a one hander of a performance with capable support by a feathery sidekick by the name of Steven Seagull.
So stacked up against so many of the same year’s summer seasonal disappointments, this is one of the few films I’ve seen over the last couple of months I was genuinely excited about seeing again.
You can keep your Suicide Squad’s and your Independence Day’s. This resourceful little diamond has bested them all.
Summer 2016, saved by Blake Lively’s bikini and a frenzied Chomp-monster?