• Shallows, The



    Released by: Sony Pictures
    Released on: September 27th, 2016.
    Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
    Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo
    Year: 2016
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    The Movie:

    Jaume Collet-Serra directs 2016’s The Shallows, which stars the lovely and talented Blake Lively as a young woman named Nancy (Blake Lively). She’s on a bit of a mission. See, her mom, who has been dead for a little while, really had a thing for this beach somewhere in South America. Nancy, still understandably feeling this connection to her dear departed mom, heads out to that beach to check out the surfing. She gets there with the aid of two friendly locals. The all hit the waves together and have a grand old time. When the two locals decide to call it a day and head back in, Nancy just can’t help but want to catch one more wave – hey, the surfing is good here, and check out the scenery. It sure is pretty.

    Anyway, she winds up taking a spill and hurting her leg. She loses her board and… has to take shelter on top of the floating corpse of a dead whale. Why? Because a Great White Shark has zoned in on her and that thing is hungry. The rest of the movie basically sees Nancy trying to outwit the world’s greatest aquatic predator as she makes her way from dead whale corpse to rock with seagull on top to conveniently placed buoy, all while doing her damndest not to get eaten.

    This is not a complicated story: girl heads into the middle of nowhere, is willingly left by herself and then winds up in danger. Really though, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Sharks are scary and being stranded with one circling you, well, that’s a pretty intense situation to be stuck in. Blake Lively handles all of this well, she reacts the way a normal human might react and never comes across as any less than human. When the shark comes at her and she flips out, you feel a bit for her and her fear is convincing. The movie also benefits from some really impressive locations. The movie was shot in Australia and it has that really nice warm, unspoiled, scenic beauty that makes for a nice looking spot around which to stage a shark attack movie.

    The praise ends there, however. The pacing is decent but you know pretty much where this is headed right from the start. The supporting characters add almost nothing. The movie’s visuals incorporate unnecessary Go Pro style footage that really doesn’t do much except up the cornball factor by having Nancy send her dad and sister (who we never meet) a video message, and the shark… it’s a cartoon, really. There is a lot of CGI used here and very little of that CGI is convincing. When the digitally rendered beastie arrives and hopes to take a bite out of our leggy heroine, we should be on the edge of our seat and we should be worried for her but it never happens simply because that toothy threat never feels like a real flesh and blood creation. The fact that the movie frequently superimposes Nancy’s watch or cell phone activity into the corner of the screen is a distraction. This might appeal to younger viewers obsessed with their phones (this is a PG-13 rated film and therefore it stands to reason this would be the demographic) but it doesn’t do anything other than clutter up some otherwise impressive shot compositions.

    There are moments of genuine suspense and there are a couple of good jumps scares but mostly this one falls flat. And that’s a shame because not only are sharks awesome and impressive but Lively is quite good in the lead.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 2.39.1 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer on this 25GB Blu-ray disc is pretty nice. Detail is very strong, it’s often times very impressive. There are no noticeable problems with mpeg compression artifacts or aliasing nor is there any obvious edge enhancement. As this feature was shot digitally there’s obviously nothing in the way of print damage to note. Black levels stay strong and shadow detail remains consistently impressive. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, never too pink or waxy, and never showing off any problems with the authoring or encoding. There’s nothing to complain about here in terms of the presentation, this is a really great transfer.

    The Shallows arrives on Blu-ray with an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, with an optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track available in Spanish. The lossless track provided here has some really good ambience and it’s basically reference quality, especially once the shark starts moving in on the buoy in the last half hour of the movie. Channel separation is more constant than you might expect and there's enough of it here to ensure that you'll notice it. Dialogue is perfectly clear and the levels are consistently well balanced. The soundtrack has good depth to it and the sound effects an appropriate amount of punch. The low end is tight and strong without burying the dialogue and the score has good range and presence to it as well. In short, the sound on this release is amazing. Subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

    The bulk of the extras is comprised of a few short featurettes, each running a few minutes. Shooting In The Shallows talks up the locations used in the film, How To Build A Shark explains just that – how the shark was created for use in the film, Finding The Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island is more on the locations and what the crew went through working there, while When Sharks Attack looks at the real life shark attacks that inspired the picture. We also get a few minutes of deleted scenes, none of which matter all that much, as well as animated menus and chapter selection. A few trailers for unrelated Sony properties play before those menus load. Inside the Blu-ray keepcase alongside the disc is an insert card with a download code for a digital HD version of the movie. The Blu-ray case fits inside a lenticular slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    The Shallows is nicely shot. It sounds excellent. It has a few mediocre jump scares. But really, that’s about it. Blake Lively is pretty good in the lead, but the story is predictable, the shark itself looks like a video game graphic and the story doesn’t really bring anything new to the shark/horror genre. Sony’s disc looks and sounds nice and the extras are reasonably interesting, but the most interesting thing about this movie is the neat lenticular cover. Oooohhhhhhh look at that!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Great review, I couldn't believe how bad the CGI was in this one. And that ending, holy shit. What a trainwreck.