In the taut thriller, 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.
Note to filmmakers: When you make a movie, DON’T use slow motion for over 80% of your film, especially in the horror/thriller genre. It takes the audience out of the moment, as is the horrid case with the new killer shark movie ‘The Shallows‘. After sleeping on it for a night, this film might be one of the worst and silliest films to come out this year. It’s terrible filmmaking on just about every level. It’s poorly written, poorly shot, and doesn’t make a lick of sense. Blake Lively, who plays a young woman named Nancy, does a decent enough job with the material she’s given, but after reading the screenplay, I would have walked far away from this film and never looked back, even if I got to go to Australia for a few weeks and film.
There’s just so much wrong with this movie, it’s hard to decipher where to begin, but as a charming nun/babysitter said, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” We first meet Nancy (Lively) as she is being driven to a remote beach to surf while she is on vacation. It is implied that she dropped out of med school after her mother died of cancer (a horrible side story full of cheese). She’s being driven through a beautiful part of the forest to get to this amazing paradise view, but you wouldn’t know it, because the director has Nancy texting her friend the whole time, while the screen captions are displayed largely on the screen at all times in real time.
The stupid thing about this is that the camera even shows the actual phone screen in frame as well through all of this. We just miss out on all the supposed beautiful shots and cinematography. After a few minutes of this, Nancy is in the water by herself, surfing the big waves, which is when everything become slow motion for the duration of the film. Her hair flings back with water, the waves crash down, and some average surfing maneuvers are all shown in slow motion. I’m convinced that the writer and director here only had enough material for about twenty minutes of film, but made it in slow-motion to drag it out to just over 80-minutes. I’m not kidding.
Soon enough, a big killer shark chomps Nancy on the leg, the blood starts flowing, and she swims over to a nearby small rock for safety, which is about 200 yards from the beach. This is where Nancy stays basically for the duration of the film by herself. Well not really by herself, there is a seagull she names Stephen on the rock with her, who was also injured in the shark attack. No, I’m not making this up. A few people walk by on the beach, but are attacked and killed by the shark, leaving poor Nancy stranded on the rock. Nothing seems to go her way either as she talks to herself or really us, the audience in everything that she does. It’s quite annoying and everything just gets sillier and dumber all the way up to the final credits of the movie.
Do I have anything good to say about this movie? Minor things, I guess, including some good use of practical blood effects and a few minor suspenseful scenes with the shark, but that’s about it. From Nancy’s phone getting internet access on the remote beach in the middle of nowhere, to the seagull that always seems to have the answer, to the ‘JAWS‘ wink where Nancy tells the shark to go screw itself as she shoots a gun - it all just falls insanely flat and makes you roll your eyes and wish you hadn’t spend 80 minutes watching this movie.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Shallows' in 4K UHD comes with a 4K Disc and a Standard 50GB Blu-ray disc, plus the digital download insert from Sony and another insert about 4K UHD. The discs are housed in a hard, black, plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
Sony dives into the deep end with the 4K UHD release of 'The Shallows', which has a HEVC H.265 encode in HDR10 with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This release has a digital download code as well as the standard Blu-ray version, in addition to the 4K disc. There is no 3D option here. The image is magnificent in 2160p with every small detail popping right off screen. You'll be able to see every tiny facial scar, wrinkle, and makeup effect easily here, and how each of these changes in the different light and shadows throughout the movie.
This low budget film looks phenomenal in 4K and brings a very realistic feeling to the viewer. The sandy beaches, ocean water, and rough and ragged rock look incredible here. Going through the thick forest on the way to the ocean front, the trees are lined with green leaves, which on this 4K edition, simply pop right off screen with different shades of green coming through the various natural light sources. Individual grains of sand can be seen easily and the textures on Blake Lively's swimsuit and surfboard look amazing.
The droplets of water that come splashing in at slow motion as well as the different shades of ocean water look incredible and change with the lighting conditions outside. Steven Seagull's feathers also look great with this video presentation as well. The CG shark looks decent enough with some great attention to detail and texture over its body. The under water shots look realistic and ever show the tiny bubbles and other debris clearly under water. Black levels are deep and inky throughout and the skin tones are very natural. Colors are striking and bold from start to finish with the red blood popping right off screen. There were no instances of any major banding, aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This UHD release of 'The Shallows' has a English: Dolby Atmos track, where I used a 7.1.2 Atmos speaker setup with the normal 7.1 surround and two overhead speakers, plus a subwoofer powering this sci-fi soundscape. The standard Blu-ray version has a DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix. There are only a couple of moments when the two over head speakers push out sound, which is mainly under water shots or big splashes over head.
Other than those very few instances, the Dolby Atmos track isn't fully used like some other previous releases. That isn't to say that this audio track isn't amazing, because it is. This audio mix fully immerses you under the ocean and in terror throughout the film. The sound effects pack a punch with each aquatic sound and bird chirp. The splashes of water on everything provide some excellent directionality and the score always adds to the suspense.
The bass kicks into high gear throughout and never crosses over to rocky territory. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and high shrills. This is a phenomenal audio track.
When Sharks Attack (HD, 8 Mins.) - A short little interview with a shark attack survivor and some experts discussing shark attacks.
Shooting in the Shallows (HD, 6 Mins.) - Some interviews and footage, discussing shooting the film on water on location, as well as on a sound stage. Blake Lively's training are also talked about here.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 5 Mins.) - Three deleted scenes are here, all of which are worth watching if you enjoyed the movie.
How to Build a Shark (HD, 7 Mins.) - An inside look at how the shark was created both in practical effects and on computer.
Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island (HD, 6 Mins.) - This extra focuses on the location used for filming, detailing the pros and cons of the beautiful beach.
Trailers (HD, 8 Mins.) - Trailers for other Sony titles.
I know a lot of people really enjoyed 'The Shallows', however I am not one of them. I think the film is poorly made, shot, and edited. The story is awful and never really makes any sense. Maybe it's not supposed to. That being said, I know some of you will really enjoy this movie, plus Blake lively turns in a somewhat decent performance. On the other hand, the video and audio presentations here are amazing and definitely worth showing your friends how good 4K UHD discs are. The extras are short and never really revealing. With all that said, this 4K UHD edition, which comes with the standard Blu-ray, is worth a look for the curious.