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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Shallows (2016)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring:
Blake Lively/Nancy
Óscar Jaenada/Carlos
Brett Cullen/Dad
Sedona Legge/Chloe
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Nancy (Blake Lively) surfs an isolated beach in honor or her mom who has passed on. She quickly finds out that the spot she picked is in fact a peeved shark's feeding turf and it ain't too hospitable when it comes to visitors! Even one in a tiny bikini. Let the games begin!
THE LOWDOWN

I missed THE SHALLOWS in theaters, but with its VOD release (watch it here) and impending arrival on disk (get it here), I got a shot at giving it a whirl. I had heard mixed feelings about the film, seems like it divided peeps for the most part, hence am not too surprised that upon this watch, I wound up somewhat in the middle. It should be stabbed that I am a huge admirer of director Jaume Collet-Serra - dude is a visual genius! Although the scripts Serra takes on don’t always hold up, the panache he brings to the proceedings often makes up for that!

House of Wax, Orphan (love that one), Non-Stop, Run All Night (underrated) – all films that were BETTER due to Serra’s big bulldog balls behind the camera. And THE SHALLOWS was no exception. Here the lad milked his beautiful beach location (filmed in the Gold Coast of Australia) for all that it was worth! And I dug the contrast of taking a locale that looks like paradise and turning it into a living nightmare for our protagonist. Serra excelled when it came to the surfing/water sequences as well (loved the over water/under water ploys). The creativity behind the shots often blew me away and his knack of filming surf sequences from under water was ingenious to say the least and made for some arresting imagery. This was a GREAT looking movie!

The potent use of slow motion, ramping and random Go-Pro action also upped the dynamic vibe of the picture. Acting wise, actress Blake Lively tackled what was pretty much a one-woman show (if you don’t count her scene stealing co-star Steven Seagull... he he he) quite admirably. I couldn’t take my eyes off her (or that bikini action for that matter, sorry, still have a dick in my pants) and she was credible/endearing the whole way through. The thing wouldn’t have worked with a lesser actress, so kudos! The pacing of the thing greased me right as well, the chain of events was always gripping (if not at times ridiculous – more on that below), the random shark attacks came with some bite (pun intended), the self surgery bits were cringe inducing while Serra offered up a couple of mucho memorable set pieces (the jellyfish one and the blood red underwater bit being my favs). The fact that it was all wrapped up in Marco Beltrami’s powerful score, helped matters as well!

Alas, I didn’t feel as much suspense as I should have while watching this one! I was actually taken aback as to WHY I wasn’t on the edge of my seat more often. Maybe it was my mood at the time or maybe it was that the film didn't pack enough punch – not sure! Our heroine was too damn tough that's for sure! I mean it's hard to feel fear for somebody who doesn’t seem to be afraid or affected by anything. Our gal took her situation pretty well while lack of food, a bad case of gangrene, Jelly Fish stings and a gaping bleeding wound did little to slow her down when it came to swimming away from that darn shark. Chick was on fire the whole way through! Did she take a shot adrenaline while I blinked or something? Made no sense to me. I know she's a "fighter" and all but this was a tad too much. Show me a progression or something. Show me moments of weaknesses so I can care. Then we had the shark – the CG was simply too obvious for my tastes; clashing with the grounded tone the they were trying to achieve hence I didn’t always believe in it. So that took away from my fear factor.

Lastly, I often had to crank up my suspension of disbelief to the max to keep going with it (Why isn’t the shark focusing on that hefty whale meal behind him instead of some skinny broad?); with the over the top girlo et sharko finale being an ideal example of that (Was she related to Aquaman? Didn't get the memo) So when all was said and done; THE SHALLOWS made for an okay sit down, I enjoyed it while I watched it and was wowed by Serra's visuals, but I doubt I’ll ever swim with it again! This ain’t no JAWS... it's not even Deep Blue Sea (which I love BTW)...

GORE
A dead whale, blood in the water, self surgery bits, a dude chomped in half and I think that was it. Nothing too crazy...
T & A
We get lots of close-ups of Lively's assets in a bikini. All good!
BOTTOM LINE
THE SHALLOWS had a promising initial premise, an eye popping main location, astounding directing choices by Serra who blew my mind on countless occasions as to how he communicated the proceedings visually and a bang on performance by Blake Lively. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t enough tension here, Lively’s character was too Supergirl for me to fear for her safety, the CG shark reeked of, well CG and suspension of disbelief had to be applied way too frequently. Not the awesome flick or the bottom of the barrel turd some told me it was – an uneven ride for this jackass!
BULL'S EYE
The screenplay was on the 2014 Blacklist i.e. a list of the preferred unmade scripts of that year.

The original title was In the Deep.

Louis Leterrier was gonna direct but booked out once the budget he was promised was scaled down.
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