ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"The Shallows" Movie Review

Updated on May 28, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life, he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Shallows
The Shallows | Source

Every time a shark movie rolls around, the inevitable comparisons to Jaws follow close behind, but The Shallows actually plays more like a poor man’s 127 Hours. Sure there’s a finned predator, and yes, there’s some gore and even the requisite scary music, but Jaws was an instant classic--stuffed to the, er, gills with colorful characters, memorable dialogue, and a compelling story.

The Shallows, meanwhile, like James Franco’s 2010 bio-pic of climber Aron Ralston, is the story of one person facing certain death in a harrowing situation. The Shallows' entire cast list is only four people long, and dialogue is as sparse at it was in the middle section of Tom Hanks’ Cast Away.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non Stop, Run All Night) is no stranger to thrillers, and writer Tony Jaswinski’s original script (more on that later) is a borderline brilliant piece of work; it actually made the 2014 Blacklist of the best un-produced screenplays. But something happened on the way to the set. Hollywood got it hands on it, and The Shallows suffers mightily for it.

Blake Lively stars as Nancy, a disillusioned med school student who’s dealing with her mother’s recent death by traveling to a remote beach in Mexico--the same beach her mother surfed while pregnant with her. During her last run of the day, Nancy is attacked by a great white only two hundred yards from shore, leaving her bloodied and stranded on a small rock outcrop. Let the survival games begin.

Before long, it becomes clear that The Shallows is yet another rote tale governed by Murphy’s Law. The tide is coming in, a storm is following close behind, and Nancy’s only possible human salvation is a lone drunk who steals her backpack. Much is also made of a gargantuan whale carcass a hundred feet away, begging the question, “Why would a shark even look at a measly little hot dog when a free, expansive buffet is right there for the taking?”

There’s plenty of suspense and chill-inducing action in The Shallows, and the photography by Collet-Serra’s cinematographer-buddy Flavio Labiano is more stunning than not. Lively, too, more than holds her own, giving one of the better performances of her admittedly (pun intended) shallow career. But there’s also plenty to roll your eyes at.

Apparently Collet-Serra was given no shortage of directives from the studio (Sony), including “Spend a lot of time focusing on Lively’s bikini,” and “Don’t be afraid to stretch the movie out with some of that awesome Baywatch slo-mo everyone loves.” Before the movie even gets going, Collet-Serra takes what seems like an eternity to simply show us how Nancy puts on a wetsuit and velcros her board to her wrist. And that’s to say nothing of the film's climax, which is borderline silly.

As for that screenplay, it’s worth your time to read the Jaswinski’s original treatment, back when it was known as In the Deep. (Google “simplyscripts the shallows”, and you’ll find it.) It’s criminal how much more thoughtful, honest, and memorable the film could have been.


The end result doesn’t, alas, doesn’t hold much water, and its faults considerably outweigh its upside. Instead of drawing any serious comparison to 127 Hours (much less Jaws) The Shallows flounders early and often as little more than a forgettable B-movie-esque wannabe.


2.5/5 stars

'The Shallows' trailer


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)