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Monday, June 27, 2016

Girl versus Shark

While I avoid derivative and formulaic B-movie dreck such as the much ballyhooed ‘Sharknado’ or ‘Sharktopus’ franchises like I would their subject matter in real life, I’ve always enjoyed a good shark-in-the-water (note the emphasis that sharks should not venture out of their natural environment) movie ever since I first saw Spielberg’s seminal masterpiece of suspense and terror ‘Jaws’ (and that even includes Renny Harlin’s ‘Deep Blue Sea’).  So when I first saw the trailer of ‘The Shallows’ featuring Blake Lively’s bikini-clad surfer-in-peril against a Great White that’s stalking her, in a manner of speaking, the question of whether to see it or not was already a foregone conclusion.
 
Lively is Nancy, a young woman from Galveston, Texas mourning the passing of her free-spirited mom who lost her battle against cancer and taking a much needed break from her medical studies by going to a nameless and secluded beach paradise in Mexico where her mom once took her surfing.  After catching the last wave before calling it a day, she found to her dismay and alarm that the shallows around the pristine sands of her little paradise have become shark-infested waters.   What follows is a harrowing ordeal that would test her endurance and will to survive to their very limits, as high tidal conditions threaten to swamp the little piece of rock on which she took refuge and render it shark territory.

She's gonna need a bigger rock (and I don't mean the one Ryan put on her finger).
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‘The Shallows’ manages to be an intense, riveting, suspenseful and visceral viewing experience without resorting to the cheap and tired “mutant super shark syndrome” most shark-themed  movies employ today, especially those from the Syfy channel.  Lively is at once charismatic and believable as the movie’s heroine, displaying much grit and intelligence in her hours-long chess match against the shark that just won’t leave her alone.  On such solid grounds it is easy to overlook the movie’s somewhat implausible and overwrought Hollywood climax.
 
Grade: A-

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