The Shallows

Yes, it’s pretty good, and yes, it’s clever to make a whole movie with just one small location, and yes the director succeeds in keeping things engaging with a limited budget, tiny cast [mostly of one] and all that, I just want to say… if things are going to get wildly unrealistic in the last few minutes, and if our heroine is going to end up killing the shark in a wildly unrealistic way, then all the work you’ve done building up her resourcefulness and intelligence is kind of negated, as is any real satisfaction we might get out of her figuring a way out of her situation. It’s kind if like a 1930’s bank robber is trapped in a barn with only a few tools, a copy of Finnegan’s Wake, and a rusty watering can, with a viper on one side and a rabid poodle on the other… and just as you’re wondering HOW is he going to get out of this… he finds an alien laser gun.

I’m willing to accept that this shark who can go swim anywhere in the ocean and kill as many coeds as it wants somehow gets obsessed with THIS beach and THIS woman, and will not give up until it eats HER [skinny and meatless as she is], but I was very disappointed that she offs the shark [that’s no spoiler, is it?] in such a ludicrous way. You’ve spent 80 minutes with this woman, admiring her perseverance and ingenuity, and thinking “HOW is she going to get out of this? HOW are the filmmakers going to get out of this?” [knowing she’s obviously not going to just make it to land and leave the shark still alive in the water], so then to have things just go to fairy-land in the last few minutes felt like a bit of a cheat. THAT’S how they’re going to get out of it—they’re going to cheat.

How, you might ask, does this differ from Spielberg saying “If they’ve bought it up til now, they’ll buy anything in the last five minutes?” about the ending of Jaws? Well, that ending seems absolutely realistic now, and it does verge on plausibility, whereas the ending here depends on multiple fudges of reality [including the ability to see underwater with no goggles]. So yeah, pretty fun up til then, fine, but I just can’t live with that ending, and felt bamboozled. Shallows, schmallows.

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