There will never be another Jaws, which I've grudgeonly learned to accept over the years. Everyone else knows it, too, making it hard to assess any other shark movie on its own merits. Perhaps that's why we get precious few anymore that take themselves seriously; unfavorable comparisons are inevitable. Jaws did it first, and did it perfectly.
The Shallows, however, might arguably be the best shark movie since Jaws. Its story is even simpler, nearly a one-woman show as Blake Lively plays an injured surfer trapped 200 yards offshore by a malevolent Great White. The only other co-star who gets any considerable screen time is a seagull trapped on the rock with her. Most of the rest of the cast is shark bait.
|Sharks always win at Marco Polo.|
After a few early scenes of obligatory character exposition, this is pure tale of survival, and pretty intense at times (it also happens to be beautifully shot). There are even a few moments which threaten to reaffirm the same irrational fear Jaws once did...that sharks are out to get us. Lively delivers an effective and convincing physical performance, even during some of the film's daffier scenes (mostly during the final act, where the ample use of CGI becomes obvious).
Speaking of which, The Shallows sort-of jumps-the-shark (no pun intended) at the end with a fairly ridiculous climax. Until then, though, this is a smart and snappy little film that hits you quick and doesn't wear out its welcome. After years of sharknadoes and deep blue seas, it's refreshing to see someone make these animals scary again.
FEATURETTES: "When Sharks Attack"; "How to Build a Shark"; "Shooting in the Shallows"; "Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island"
PURR...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.