It seems like an easy target: the one-time Queen Bee of the Upper East Side, stuffed into an orange bikini and stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean as a 20-foot great white shark stalks her.
But guess what? I loved The Shallows. Earnestly.
My biggest fear, more so than heights or being yelled at by Uma Thurman, is being stranded in open waters. (Because I'm a human being and we have no business being in the ocean.) I do not trust anything that lives there -- Dory is the exception, not the rule. Which is all to say, credit my love of shark attack movies to some deep-seated masochism. And The Shallows is an excellent shark attack movie.
The Shallows may not be a quote unquote good movie, but it never tries to be. I'd previously read Anthony Jaswinski's screenplay -- back when it was titled "In the Deep" -- which is filled with dreamy interstitials and highbrow ~metaphors~.
In the hands of director Jaume Collet-Serra -- the man responsible for House of Wax and that Liam Neeson 9/11 revenge fantasy film, Non-Stop -- those were replaced with extra gore and a climax that left my theater hooting, hollering and -- dare I say -- on the brink of a standing ovation. (I dare.) (Though any more information about that would be diving too deep into spoilers.)
I.e. good job, Jaume!
There are laugh-scares (dolphins! LOL !!). Fake-out scares (and all requisite FOREBODING. MUSIC.). Scare-scares (shark). And the movie is littered with enough ominous underwater shots -- forcing you to helplessly look up as legs dangle off a surfboard, into infested waters -- that you quickly accept the fact that you've spent $16 to see a movie with half the screen blocked because you're going to keep watching through your fingers, just to be safe.
As for Blake Lively, who the general consensus seems to think needs to prove herself, despite exceptional work in The Age of Adaline and-- OK, I see your point. Turns out, the face that launched a thousand Gucci Première fragrance bottles is also damn effective at conveying terror, as Lively scream queens with the best of 'em. There is also no question about just how charming she is as an actress, throwing her all into lame surfer slang like "rad tubes" and forming real chemistry with her co-star, a seagull that she barfs on and later befriends.
Heed my advice: See The Shallows. (In theaters June 24!) See it unironically. And you'll still have plenty to make fun of, like the exceedingly gratuitous shots of Lively's body, including a leering close-up as she zips up her wetsuit and oops! just happens to squeeze her breasts together that is so unsubtle, Blake might as well turn to the camera and wink.
Love The Shallows. Love it unironically. Because even though the CGI shark is only slightly better, at times, than the practically animated shark in 1999's Deep Blue Sea -- we're going to need a bigger budget! -- it's a damn good time at the movies.
And what other shark attack movie are you going to see this summer? That movie where Mandy Moore fights a shark? (Yes! I'm going to watch the s**t out of that one, too!)
ET caught up with Lively at The Shallows premiere, where she revealed the adorable compliments her daughter, James, gives her on her glamorous premiere gowns. Check it out in the video below.