Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mrs. Deadpool Fights a Giant CGI Shark, or Thoughts on The Shallows

The Shallows (2016), from Spanish film director Jaume Collet-Serra of Orphan (2009), stars Blake Lively of Gossip Girl, an extremely popular actor, as a comely surfer who fights a shark. That’s about all you get for a plot and really, when you think about it, that’s about all you need in a fast-paced summer thriller.
The movie opens with some found GoPro footage and annoying onscreen texts and screenshots to establish a contemporary time frame and shove in some easy exposition, but at least it’s not in 3D.  Blake Lively plays Nancy, a med school dropout who spends the day surfing, encounters some cheap jump scares with dolphins and dead whale, and gets attacked by a shark.  She spends most of the movie trapped by the tide on a rock 200 yards from the shore.  There’s a friendly seagull, and some PG-13 self-surgery.  The shark takes a bite on her slim and tanned thigh; really more of a love-tap that will scar up nicely and make for a cool story and/or Instagram post.
It’s easy to compare this movie to Jaws (1975), but it’s just as much a surf movie.  The first third of the movie is spent watching Blake Lively catchin' waves.  The current, waves and chance of drowning are just as threatening as the shark.  If you insist on going there, there’s no theme song, and the CGI shark isn’t as frightening as the giant animatronic used in Jaws.  The genius of Jaws was that Spielberg could film an empty ocean and make it ominous, and thanks to that iconic theme song the audience would imagine the great white shark lurking underneath, you didn’t even need to see the fin to know it was there.  The biggest fear in The Shallows is the lack of Wi-Fi.
It’s an inherently conflicted premise, on one hand we have a privileged American med student in Mexico who doesn’t bother to learn Spanish but looks great in a bikini finding a secret beach to go surfing; co-opting another country’s natural resources for her own pleasure and entertainment.  However we also have a great summer movie with an elegantly simple plot; woman vs. nature, good vs. evil with scenic vistas, and you know, bikinis.  It feels disingenuous to say, accept Peter Weller as half-Japanese in one movie and not Blake Lively in a divisive election year in this movie.  From the surface (pun intended) this movie is a lot of fun and very entertaining, and maybe that’s about as much thought as should go into it.  Some movies are popcorn with extra butter and extra salt, and some are non-fat vegan protein shakes.  It depends on what you’re in the mood for.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.