It’s Blake Lively versus a giant shark as The Shallows comes home to blu-ray. The film was one of this Summer’s genuine surprises, but can it’s intensity last upon the next viewing. Come inside to check out my review for the home release!
In a Summer movie season where so many blockbusters seemed to fizzle and disappoint, The Shallows came as a serious surprise. The smaller scale of the film, comprising mostly of Blake Lively's performance with a handful of others popping in for a few scenes, made for a surprising amount of tension. The sense of helplessness, despite how close to land she is, is ever present and does a great job of putting you in her shoes.
By far, this is perhaps the film's greatest strength. Despite the fact we serve as observers watching the events unfold, the film does a surprisingly good job of making you think through the situation as well. Constantly throughout the movie, I found myself thinking what I would do if placed in the same situation. Thankfully, Lively's character Nancy is far more adept than myself, and came up with better solutions that felt both practical and realistic.
B.C. talked more about the overall story and it’s presentation in the initial review for the film, so I won't dive into it much further. Suffice it say, however, that The Shallows holds up very well upon further viewings. While some of the tension is lost, it's not enough to be a detriment to the enjoyment of the movie itself. The shark moments are still highly effective and bring the sense of dread and foreboding, making each little 'victory' for her character feel all the more impressive.
Jaws will always be the best shark movie, and remains one of the greatest "creature features" around. That said, The Shallows does a pretty phenomenal job of making a case for the SECOND best shark movie. It boils the story down to its most basic parts, keeping things simple where they need to be, while still infusing a good helping of humanity and powerful themes throughout. In this way the storytelling is effective and to the point, featuring none of the fluff, while still fully engrossing you within the story.
Sight and Sound
The Shallows comes to blu-ray with a gorgeous transfer, that makes the tropical paradise it's set in really stand out. The blues and greens of the ocean pop, and Nancy's continually worsening state really shine. The image is sharp and clear, offering up fine details, without losing the proper skin tones and sense of realism.
The sound is equally well represented here, with the dialog (what there is of it) given the proper priority, and the action sequences the oomph they need. The bass really hits when the shark attacks, making them feel/sound as visceral as they look. The movie's sound also shines in the quieter moments, however. When things are 'calm' the gentle lapping of the waves comes through clearly, transporting you right into the middle of it all. From a technical standpoint the blu-ray is solid, offering a crisp picture, while delivering great sound.
For a somewhat short and simple movie, The Shallows brings a pretty decent helping of bonus features on the disc:
Shooting in the Shallows
When Sharks Attack
How to Build a Shark
Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island
Some of the things are the typical fare, such as deleted scenes and previews from upcoming Sony films, but the others offer up good insight into the making of the film and the difficulties in filming on this particular location and mostly in the water. As a filmmaker myself, I was intrigued to see all the details that went into filming so much on the water, and the techniques they used to accomplish some of the shots.
The featurette about a real shark attack survivor is interesting as well. On top of hearing from the survivor and his experiences, shark experts discuss the realities of attacks and how they work. Overall, there's a good amount of bonus content, far more than some of the larger blockbusters were able to come up with upon their releases.