Movie Review: “The Shallows”

Starring
Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge
Director
Jaume Collet-Serra

Jaume Collet-Serra is a director who can generally elevate whatever material he’s working with. The “Non-Stop” and “Orphan” director makes B-movies – films that, in less capable hands, wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as they are. The same can be said for his newest film, “The Shallows,” an enjoyable and often exciting thriller that rises above a somewhat inconsistent script.

Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) heads off to paradise to surf on a secluded and mostly unknown beach that her mother, who recently passed away, told her about. With the exception of a few visitors, she’s completely isolated. On Nancy’s second trip into the water, she comes across a dead whale and quickly realizes she’s truly not alone; there’s a great white shark in the shallows. Bitten and nearly killed, she’s left stranded on a rock too far from the shore. For the most part, “The Shallows” is a one-woman show, although Nancy does befriend a seagull.

Anthony Jaswinski’s script doesn’t stretch the premise out too much. For the most part, “The Shallows” is a refreshingly efficient and cleanly structured summer movie, one that runs under 90 minutes – a rarity this time of year. There’s little fat to this story. At the start of the film, Nancy is already on her way to the beach, so Jaswinski kicks things off running, for the most part. There is a minor exposition dump at the start, but it’s quick and clean, and it helps that the opening scene features two actors (Blake Lively and Óscar Jaenada) that have a natural and charming rapport, so the information goes down smoothly.

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Movie Review: “The Age of Adaline”

Starring
Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Amanda Crew
Director
Lee Toland Krieger

There is no pleasure in putting down a movie that is in love with science, to the point where the screenplay invents a new law of molecular biology – one that won’t be discovered for another 20 years, no less – in order to justify the fantastical plot. Indeed, we’ll give “The Age of Adaline” credit for taking a left-field approach to the love story of the girl who won’t/can’t stop running, but in this case, the opposites don’t attract; the science talk is almost exclusively done via narration (THE MOVIE IS EXPLAINING ITSELF TO YOU BECAUSE YOU WON’T UNDERSTAND IT OTHERWISE), and it’s actually even more jarring when it’s inserted into the dialogue. However it’s delivered, it never gels with the love story. In fact, the love story never gels with the love story.

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) was born in 1908. She met a man, fell in love, got married, had a daughter, and lost her husband in an accident. One night, while driving to visit her parents, she had an accident that sent her car plunging into a lake. The cold temperatures of the water stopped her heart, but she was revived when her vehicle was struck by lightning (again, the science behind this is decades away, they assure us), and as a result, she stops aging. This obviously makes it difficult for Adaline to forge long-lasting relationships (both friend and other), and avoid the suspicions of law enforcement. She eventually learns to guard her privacy to the present day (her daughter is now played by Ellen Burstyn), but handsome philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) refuses to leave her alone. Adaline, who now calls herself Jenny, wants to let him into her life, but decades of running is a hard habit to break. She agrees to spend the weekend with him as his parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, and it is there that Jenny, for the first time in ages, comes face-to-face with her past.

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