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blake lively in the shallows shark film
Blake Lively has impressive survival skills, compared the chum-bait in most shark films.

The Shallows is much better than The Reef (or the more recent Crawl) but offers the same kind of apex predator adventure. Blake Lively (as Nancy) tells a more compelling story, however, through sheer acting talent and believable physicality.

What do you do when you you’re trapped on a rock, spitting distance to shore, with a hungry shark blocking your path to safety?

The difference:  The Reef had a small group of edible people to start with, and in The Shallows Nancy is (mostly) alone. It’s not a story of the last man standing, but whether the only character lives at all.

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This is a well-told shark survival tale, but not exactly riveting, adventure-wise. There’s a lot of time spent hanging out on a rock and a buoy. It works, however.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Survival Skills Sell the Scenes

Lively performs her few action sequences skillfully. Nancy’s smart, determined, and one hell of a fighter when it’s down to getting out alive from an oddly persistent shark. I loved the use of her necklaces — she was trained as a doctor, after all.

(Important safety tip: make sure your surfing pendant can be used as a needle to sew up your skin….or cut a compression bandage from a neoprene suit, if necessary.)

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The early use of the cell phone sequences were nicely portrayed, but a bit odd in context. More films could take their cues on how to show someone interacting with their texts and face calls, but….isn’t this unnamed beach like, SUPER remote? Where is Nancy getting her cell reception from? How does she intend to call Uber 50 miles down a dirt track in the jungle? These things do bother me. (But not as much as the drunk asshole stealing her phone…)

Also, I would totally have eaten that seagull. She was three days in by the climax, and besides the dangers of dehydration, hunger would have reared its head. She did eat that crab — good, good — but then spit it up. Less good. Eat that thing, girl. You have to keep your strength up.

 The Shallows, Overall:

The Shallows is one of the better shark movies in the genre. But it’s less about action and gore than the tale of one smart gringa who saves her own self from a terrible fate…and that’s a great thing in any film. It’s not as amazing as Jaws, but it’s up there with Deep Blue Sea and 47 Meters Down. Smart people rock!


Movie Grade: B

Here’s a PSA: If you encounter a DEAD, HALF-EATEN WHALE floating beside you, leave the scene. Leave right away, without making a lot of splashy, shark-alerting kicks. Don’t hang around to inspect the chum. I shouldn’t even have to say this.

National Geographic has a few shark survival tips you might care to memorize if you like the ocean.  Be careful out there.  🙂

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4 responses to “The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)”

  1. Did you like The Shallows? What’s your favorite shark movie?

  2. The Shallows (2016) I m guessing somewhere at some time someone said: Hey you think Blake Lively can hold a movie on her own? To which I imagine the response was What sort of casting director would try that? Blake Lively is more than just a pretty face. The director makes sure you see her face, with the entire film being about her experience. So if she couldn t act then any audience would notice. I enjoyed her acting. She was believable and convincing that she was the character. If she can make me forget that she was Serena from Gossip Girl then that s great. The film has problems. The shark isn t up to modern day graphics. Neither were the dolphins. Also the ending was bad. It s not how you expect it to end, which is good. I think the bad ending it due to the writer, Anthony Jaswinski. This is his first major film and it shows. I noticed some directorial flaws, or maybe they were intentional. Jaume Collet-Serra is good at keeping the flow of a movie going, I just wished there was better shots. Verdict: If you re easily frightened, this film could scare you. If you re a horror movie junkie then it ll be too vanilla. Worth watching.

    1.  Avatar

      Great comments and thank you for your insights. Blake really does hold the entire film by herself, which is no mean feat for any actor. There’s honestly almost no one else in the entire film. (Unless you count the seagull.)

  3. About half of what is now going on in all cinema is the product of technological advances in film-making and The Shallows makes much more intelligent use of them than the superheroes do.

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