THE SHALLOWS - A REVIEW

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For an english translation, check out below the dotted line! :) (Smile)

The Shallows – distribuito in Italia come “Paradise Beach” – ovvero: la mia classica recensione fuori tempo massimo. 
In realtà avrei voluto intitolare questo pezzo “Dite che riuscirò, prima o poi, a vedere su schermo uno squalo che si comporta da squalo?”, ma non ci stava, mannaggia.
Comunque.
La storia del film è proprio semplice: una studentessa di medicina (interpretata da Blake Lively, della quale ignoravo l’esistenza, e un po’ mi spiace) perde la madre per colpa del cancro e, per ricordarla/omaggiarla/far iniziare il film, decide di andare a surfare su una spiaggia sperduta nel cuore del Messico, spiaggia dove la madre – pure lei surfista – amava andare. Purtroppo la giornata prende una piega brutta brutta quando un gigantesco Squalo Bianco decide di mettersi a dieta, e comincia quindi a dare la caccia alla nostra eroina che, ferita dal cattivissimo pesce, si rifugia su uno scoglio a poche decine di metri dalla riva, tipo la vita a volte è proprio beffarda Problem? .
Il film è tutto qui: lunghe, lunghe inquadrature sul fisico californiano della Lively, intervallati da panoramiche sul paradisiaco paesaggio della baia messicana, con uno squalo in CG che, ogni tanto, si sgranocchia qualcuno o qualcosa. Lo svolgimento è insomma quello tipico di tutti i film in cui c’è un singolo uomo (donna) VS natura spietata incarnata da bestiaccia molto feroce, compreso l’improbabile finale fuck yeah! che tutti ci aspettiamo fin da quando premiamo play sul telecomando. Inclusi nel pacchetto anche un paio di momenti autenticamente “Scusami Wilson!!!” ed i modi in cui – in un film che è un one woman show – sono stati fatti entrare in scena i “non personaggi” destinati a finire in bocca allo squalo, soluzioni che – se non vi faranno sbellicare – forse è il caso che riconsideriate le vostre scelte di vita.
Senza poi entrare nel merito di quanto quello squalo lì non sia un animale dotato di intelletto, ma solo un plot-device (di questo magari ne riparleremo)…
The Shallows/Paradise Beach è quindi inequivocabilmente un B-Movie, B-Movie che però riesce a far finta di non esserlo, grazie ad una regia onestissima, una buona fotografia e ad un budget leggermente sopra la media del genere. 
Tuttavia sarebbe ingiusto liquidarlo così, perché questo film ha anche altri due meriti indiscutibili. Primo, era dai tempi di Baywatch che non vedevo su schermo una signorina procace in costume da bagno correre al rallentatore sul bagnasciuga; secondo, per essere un film con uno squalo che fa a pezzi la gente, The Shallows/Paradise Beach si impegna abbastanza da non ripetere la solita formula fossilizzata, quella che viene reiterata fin dai tempi del sommo capolavoro di Spielberg del 1975 e (diciamocelo) senza la quale la Asylum neanche esisterebbe. Quindi, niente cittadina costiera, niente politicante avido e miope, niente poliziotto/scienziato/giornalista che tenta di avvisare la popolazione prima che finisca nelle fauci del mostro di turno. Su quel canovaccio sono stati costruiti decine e decine di titoli (guardatevi “Top 40 Shitty Shark Movies” del buon James Rolfe, se non ci credete). Ma appunto, un po’ come Blu Profondo, The Shallows/Paradise Beach riesce a darti quel minimo di roba diversa che ti regala un’ora abbondante di divertimento a buon mercato, senza che come bonus ti lasci poi con il bruciante desiderio di rivedere Lo Squalo per soffocare il dispiacere.
Quindi, un dignitoso, tutto sommato divertente B-Movie. E lascerà questo film un segno nella vostra memoria? 
Ma no, ma figuriamoci, ma scherzate?
L’unica cosa che vi rimarrà è il solo attore ad aver davvero giganteggiato, perchè che ogni volta che c’era lui, rubava la scena: il gabbiano ferito, Steven Seagull.
True story.


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The Shallows. In other words: my classical overdue review. 
I actually wished to title this piece “Do you think I will ever be able to see a shark behaving like an actual shark on screen?” but it wouldn’t fit into the title form, darn.
Anyway.
The story told by this movie is very simple: a young medical student woman (played by Blake Lively, whom I didn’t know even existed, and this makes me a bit sad) loses her mother by cancer, and to remember her/pay homage to her/get the movie started, decides to do some surfing at the “secret beach” in Mexico which her mother – who was a surfer herself – used to love. Unfortunately, this young woman’s day turns really really bad when a giant Great White Shark decides he wants to go on a diet, and so starts to hunt the woman down. Wounded by the bad bad fish, our heroine finds shelter on a rock that's just a few tenths of yards away from the beach, because life’s a bitch sometimes Problem? .
And this is pretty much the whole movie: long, long close shots of Lively’s Californian body, spaced out by pan shots of the paradisiac landscape of that Mexican bay, with a CGI shark that gnaws something or somebody every now and then. The plot is thus about the same of every story where there’s a single man (woman) VS the mean nature embodied by a bad bad beast, including your typical unlikely fuck yeah!!! ending, an ending that you know you were going to see since when you pressed play on the remote.
In bundle, you also get a couple of authentic “I’m sorry, Wilson!” moments, plus the ways they managed to plug into what’s basically a one woman show those non-characters doomed to dive straight into our shark’s mouth, stuff that if won’t make you crack up laughing, it’s probably time for you to reconsider your life choices.
And don’t even let me begin with how much that shark isn’t a living, thinking animal, but just a mere plot-device (we’ll talk about this later on, perhaps)…
T
he Shallows, thus, is definitely a B-Movie; but it’s a B-Movie that manages to pretend it isn’t a B-Movie, thanks to honest cinematography and director, and to a budget slightly bigger than the average of the nowadays genera.
But it would be unfair to get rid of this movie this easily, because it also has two indisputable merits. Firstly, it was since Baywatch that I didn’t see on screen a swimsuit wearing busty lady run in slow-mo on a beach; secondly, for being a movie with a shark that kills people, The Shallows makes an effort big enough to stand out a little bit and spare us from the umpteenth repetition of the fossilized formula that someone keeps throwing at us since 1975 and the aftermath of Spielberg’s immortal masterpiece; a formula without which – let’s be honest – The Asylum wouldn’t even exist. So, no seashore town, no narrow minded politician, no cop/scientist/journalist whose trying to warn the town people before they get gnawed by the occasional monster. There are tenths upon tenths of movies based on that plot (if you don’t believe me, go and see “Top 40 Shitty Shark Movies” by the good James Rolfe). But, as I previously mentioned, The Shallows – sorta like Deep Blue Sea – manages to give you that bare minimum of different things that will let you have fun for about an hour, and without leaving you with the burning desire to re-watch Jaws to sooth your sorrow as a bonus. 
So, a fair and somehow entertaining B-Movie. And will The Shallows leave a mark in your life? 
No, of course. Are you kidding?
The only thing you’re going to remember about The Shallows it’s the only actor who really gave a huge performance, because he stole the show every time he was on screen: Steven Seagull, the wounded seagull.
True story.

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© 2016 - 2021 Kronosaurus82
Comments10
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"but it’s a B-Movie that manages to pretend it isn’t a B-Movie, thanks to honest cinematography and director, and to a budget slightly bigger than the average of the nowadays genera."

I thought the trailer looked too good for a B-Movie, although I knew the movie itself wasn't gonna be good, being another shark movie.
Kronosaurus82's avatar
When I saw the trailer the first time, I hoestly thought it was going to be even worst than a B-Movie. So, on a purely aesthetic level, The Shallows isn't bad at all. The CG shark actually looks decent in a couple of shots, even if it's comically fake in the majority of the other ones (but IMHO this is a problem shared by almost every movie that relies on CG effects)... I think "Bruce" from Jaws looks way more real and way more scarier! :P
As I wrote, The Shallows is "another shark movie", but it manages to set itself a bit aside from the majority of those, avoiding many of the "shark movie" stereotypes. It has a truckload of other stereotypes, of course, but maybe not the ones you could expect from such a story. :)
"The CG shark actually looks decent in a couple of shots,"

I'm assuming all the decent shots are in the trailer.

BTW, sorry about not yet reviewing your dino book series. The current plan is to definitely do so some time in 2018.
Kronosaurus82's avatar
I'm assuming all the decent shots are in the trailer.

I guess it is so. :D :)

BTW, sorry about not yet reviewing your dino book series. The current plan is to definitely do so some time in 2018. 

No problem. ;)
Toarcian's avatar
I don't like movies in general where a shark is the meanie beanie
Kronosaurus82's avatar
Well, I pretty much like just one, "the original": Jaws. I'm not saying that it was a more realistic depiction of a shark, of course, but... well, that movie is so much more than just a slasher/horror flick. It's like if everything that came after that got the lesson wrong. :)
Maybe it's because Benchley wrote Jaws according to what little we knew about sharks back then, while all the following ones just made things up. :D
Toarcian's avatar
Yeah, i gotta agree the first Jaws was a great movie though.
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