The Shallows is an enjoyable schlock thriller with a believable performance and a handful of effective visual effects, but its ultimately a forgettable shark tale that tries to pass as a serious survival story.

Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing alone on a secluded beach when she is attacked by a great white shark and stranded just a short distance from shore. Though she is only 200 yards from her survival, getting there proves the ultimate contest of wills.

The Shallows isn’t going to make you forget about Jaws, but this lean minimalistic thriller commits to its deceit.

Camera work – despite its sleazy shots as it grazes over Lively’s body in the first half – does provide effective visuals through wide angle and bird’s eye view shots to highlight the gravity of the situation. Deft editing creates engaging life or death moments through a combination of slow motion and fast cuts. At sea, distances can very misleading and one miscalculation can turn our heroine into a monstrous shark’s side dish.

The plot is able to offer tense scenes as the stakes are gradually raised as Nancy tries to survive. Lead character Blake Lively is able to turn in a believable performance, making her more than just another visitor at the wrong time and place.

It’s obvious that The Shallows is schlock material but tries to pass off as a serious survival story in spite of its contrivances and calculated risks. This includes an exceptional cellphone signal from an obvious product placement and a malevolent shark that ignores more than a hundred pounds of ready to eat meal for a blonde skinny girl. Outdoor enthusiasts would be glad to know that according to this movie, a Go Pro is sturdy enough to survive a shark bite and with a battery that lasts long enough to be found in case it gets lost.

As B-movies go, this tale is blockbuster fodder. It’s essentially the same tourist (a blonde girl of course) vs. local monster (the wrongfully portrayed go to monster of the deep shark) in a will she or won’t she get eaten predicament. Yes, there’s an adorable animal who gets involved in this mess to lighten up the proceedings. You need to be patient as the first half plays like a slick commercial of a tropical vacation with Blake Lively featuring an Xperia phone.

In fairness, The Shallows does have its thrilling moments when watched in the big screen. If you gloss over the facts, the last leg can serve as distraction for the day. As long as you don’t expect much it’s serviceable enough albeit forgettable.

My Rating: 6/10

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