In the taut thriller The Shallows, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy's ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude. Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
the film crew had to ride bikes to the set every morning producer Mattie Leshem added "we weren't allowed to have too many vehicles on the island, so essentially everyone had to ride their bikes to set every morning. But because we needed all the daylight to shoot in, we were riding in the dark. And in order to get close to the set, we had to get off our bikes and walk to the beach, because there is a Muttonbird population and it's an endangered species and 20,000 of them were nesting exactly at the time we were shooting the movie. And they're incredibly fast in the wind but when they're on the ground, they're like drunken ducks so if you're riding a bike you could easily run them over. We were warned under no circumstance could we hurt a single Muttonbird and [we didn't]. See more »
Nancy has to get off the rock before the tide covers it. Tides flood and ebb at a speed represented by a sine wave. In other words. the tide turns very slowly, speeds up and slows to a crawl again before the cycle repeats, The film counts down the submerging of the still nicely exposed rock from full tide minus 20 mins or so. In fact the tide would pretty much be at its full height with 20 mins to go. Also, even in gun laden Mexico, hazard marking buoys would not have flare guns concealed in boxes for no apparent reason and the buoy would be a different colour since it didn't seem to be marking any channel, See more »
Bird Set Free
Written by Sia (as Sia Furler) and Greg Kurstin (as Gregory Kurstin)
Performed by Sia
Courtesy of Monkey Puzzle Records/RCA Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment See more »
Nifty, well-crafted shark thriller boasting a strong lead performance by Blake Lively.
The Shallows knows exactly what it is, and that's the best praise I can give it. It's barely 90 minutes long, has a small cast, and only one location. Its only purpose is to give you a thrill-ride during that time; an adrenaline rush based on an ubiquitous fear among humans: being stranded in the ocean with a shark. However as the title suggests, this doesn't take place in the middle of the ocean. This woman is stranded only a couple hundred yards from the shore, close enough to potentially shout for help. What The Shallows does so well is establish this sense of isolation and hopelessness for our main character, and her situation of being so close yet so far from safety.
Blake Lively is great in this role. It's mostly a reactionary role - not much dialogue aside from some early establishing conversations to develop her character. For the majority of the film Lively is terrified and fighting for survival against a deadly shark. This thing is huge, like the Jaws' shark's father huge. And it's interesting to see how she follows its patterns and observes its behavior, allowing her to act accordingly without being trapped. There are some far-fetched scenes, sure, but Jaws had them as well and it's hailed as a classic. Now I'm not saying The Shallows is as good a movie as Jaws, because it certainly isn't. But again, the movie knows what it is, and as a short shark thriller appealing solely to our primal fear, it gets the job done and then some.
Now, it has its faults. The electronic music during the surfing scenes was immediately off-putting, and there are some slo-mo shots that definitely did not deserve to be in slo-mo. But the directing as a whole is well done - gorgeous sweeping shots of the open ocean, the slow build up before the initial attack, showing the shark only when it's most effective. The writing is clever and practical, relatable to the point that you feel for this character's predicament, and the acting as I said is top notch. The Shallows doesn't break any new ground, but it does exactly what it sets out to do - give the audience yet another reason to avoid the beach.
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