Blake Lively vs a shark and a script

This quin­tes­sen­tial sum­mer pop­corn thriller is daftly con­ceived but per­fectly en­joy­able, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

THE SHAL­LOWS Di­rected by Jaume Col­let-Serra. Star­ring Blake Lively. 12 cert, gen­eral re­lease, 83 min Who is smarter: Blake Lively or a fish? We’re only be­ing a tiny bit face­tious: that’s the sky-high con­cept at the heart of this rea­son­ably en­ter­tain­ing, im­pru­dently daft aquatic thriller.

Thus, med school dropout Nancy (Lively) makes her way to a re­mote Mex­i­can beach to catch some waves and re­trace the steps of her late mother. There fol­lows var­i­ous shots of Lively’s shapely bronzed bits – you re­ally ought to up the fac­tor, girl – and a video-call back home, one of many ill-ad­vised se­quences that at­tempts to make text mes­sages and mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tions look cin­e­matic.

Nancy re­turns to the wa­ter and is at­tacked by a great white shark. She finds refuge on the blub­bery car­cass of a hump­back whale, and then a reef, which is soon to be sub­merged, but the marine mon­ster just keeps go­ing around and around.

Hol­ly­wood hasn’t made great use of Blake Lively since her Gos­sip Girl days. Too of­ten she has been ill-served by such unlovely projects as Green

Lan­tern and Sav­ages. Classy stu­dio scream queen seems like a much bet­ter op­tion and, sure enough, Lively works hard against a screen­play that, by its na­ture, re­quires her to nar­rate what she is do­ing, you know, for prop­erly dumb view­ers.

But which Jaume Col­letSerra is pre­sid­ing? To date, the di­rec­tor has made one mod­ern hor­ror clas­sic ( Or­phan), three mid-rank­ing Liam Nee­son chase-abouts ( Run All Night, Un­known, Non-Stop) and a cou­ple of gen­uine stinkers ( House of Wax, Goal 2).

The Shal­lows is nei­ther his finest nor his worst hour. The film passes the time agree­ably, but is sel­dom as nail-bit­ing as we might rea­son­ably ex­pect from a lean genre ex­er­cise fea­tur­ing a cir­cling dor­sal fin. DOP Flavio Labi­ano’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy makes azure use of Lord Howe Is­land, the Aus­tralian World Her­itage Site where the film was shot. The in­jured seag­ull side­kick (pic­ture a caw­ing Wil­son the vol­ley­ball) is a neat touch.

Other as­pects are less neat: the CG jel­ly­fish make one think of 8-bit Su­per­mario, while the shark’s abil­i­ties are as in­con­sis­tent as its grudge against Lively is dogged and pro­nounced. It must be a Pretty Lit­tle Liars fan.

Pedi­gree chum Blake Lively hangs on in The Shal­lows

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