The biggest surprise of the summer has to be director Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows. A simple story, dominated by the screen performance of Blake Lively, blended with a stunning location and shark CGI work that makes the shark from Jaws seems like the sort of thing you’d see in a student film (and you know how effective Jaws was in scaring the swim shorts off of you … so The Shallows is super amazing).
If you have an eye for film, sit in the dark and watch the dancing images on the screen you occasionally come across a film where you go “WOW, how did they do that?” The Shallows is that film for the summer of 2016.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has tabbed Sept. 27 for a three-SKU helping — a DVD edition, a Blu-ray edition and a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack.
The ARR is a swift-to-market 95 days and ticket sales were a tasty $54.3 million.
There is a beach that is so beautiful — and isolated — that upon seeing it for the first time in the film you can’t help but think that it is a composite; it is make believe. The action is supposed to take place in Mexico, but the footage of this magical beach location is actually located on Lord Howe Island (in the South Pacific — draw a line between Auckland, New Zealand and Brisbane, Australia and there it is … smack dab in the middle of nowhere).
The story opens with Nancy (Blake Lively — The Age of Adaline, Gossip Girl, The Town, etc.) arriving at this isolated beach. A backstory is quickly filled in … her mother has recently died of cancer, she’s a medical student (nice foreshadowing here) and she’s returned to this lovely place in Mexico because this is where her mother conceived her. She’s also a surfer and the surfing is sweet.
A local named Carlos (Óscar Jaenada) has given her a ride through the jungle and wishes her well. She paddles out and joins two other locals who are enjoying the waves. All of this takes place in the first ten minutes … it is a beautifully structured opening sequence that gives us all the information we need to know about Nancy.
The script from Anthony Jaswinski (Killing Time, Vanishing on 7th Street) is near flawless in its economy in introducing the main character and setting the stage for what follows.
The locals call it a day, but Nancy decides to catch one last wave. She is attacked and bitten by a great white and finds herself first atop a dead whale (when her hands dig into the rotting flesh of the whale you can’t help but squirm just a bit) and then she is able to escape to a nearby rock outcropping some two hundred yards from shore.
About 50 yards away is a solar-powered buoy. A rock, a buoy, her, an injured seagull (whom she names Steven … ha, ha, get it) and a very hungry and aggressive great white shark provide all of the action for the rest of the film.
Her rock is a precarious place as the tide rises and falls, so Nancy needs to figure out a way to get to the buoy. That seems safer!
The last 20 minutes of The Shallows is easily the best, well-produced action sequence for all of the summer of 2016. And you know that the summer is loaded with CGI extravaganzas, but this one is so nicely done that you can’t begin to fathom just how they were able to pull it off.
Bonus features, which appear to be limited to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack SKUs, include deleted scenes and four featurettes — “How to Build a Shark,” “Shooting in the Shallows,” “Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island” and “When Sharks Attack.”