Blu-ray Review Drama

'The Shallows' Blu-ray Review: Beauty versus the beast

September 27, 2016Ben MK

Ever since Jaws was unleashed upon unsuspecting moviegoers in 1975, filmmakers have been trying hard to put their own inventive twists on Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie formula, from the super intelligent sharks of Deep Blue Sea to the tongue-in-cheek, apocalyptic tone of Sharknado. When you get to the core of what made Jaws so successful, however, it all boils down to the age-old conflict of man versus nature and prey versus predator — or, as in the case of director Jaume Collet-Serra's The Shallows, beauty versus beast.

In The Shallows, Blake Lively plays Nancy Adams, a med student who travels all the way from Texas to Mexico in search of her own slice of paradise. Finding it on the same secluded beach her late mother once visited, Nancy is greeted by clear blue waters and miles of untarnished sand, with nary another living soul in sight. However, her idyllic getaway is soon violently disturbed when she accidentally stumbles into the feeding ground of a 22-foot great white shark, plunging her into a life-or-death struggle with one of nature's most efficient killing machines.

What follows strips away the necessity for any true plot development or narrative, as a wounded Nancy finds herself marooned on a rock far from shore, with her only companion being an injured seagull that she nicknames "Steven Seagull." But her safe haven won't remain safe for long. And as the rising tide makes it only a matter of time until she becomes the latest meal for her unrelenting, encircling attacker, Nancy must draw upon every last ounce of courage and all of her remaining strength to devise her next move — lest it be her last.

Scripted by Anthony Jaswinski, The Shallows is a taut, high-concept picture that eschews the kind of excess baggage that typically weighs down most major studio releases, reducing the film to essentially one recognizable star, one locale and one simple plot point. And while you might think the result is just one big gimmick, the movie is actually much better off because of its simplicity, as the premise preys upon audiences' most primal fears, delivering a suspenseful and thrilling story of survival, where the only rule of the game is kill or be killed.

The Shallows takes a bite out of Blu-ray with a gorgeous and pristine 1080p transfer that features image quality so crystal clear that it's easy to count the individual grains of sand on the beach, or to observe the scars on the shark's menacing visage as it lunges towards the camera. And while the film's color palette grows increasingly foreboding and overcast as Nancy's situation worsens, color saturation is never an issue, with the highlights being the lush, green foliage surrounding the shoreline, the bright red hue of blood in the water, and the bright orange of Nancy's bikini top. Turning to the audio, the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers up a thoroughly immersive aural experience, filled with the sounds of crashing waves, tropical breezes and squawking seagulls, not to mention bloodcurdling screams and the sound of the shark's powerful jaw chomping down on its prey.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (4:51) - Three scenes ("Chloe Sees The Shark," "Call For Help" and "A Conversation with a Seagull").
  • Shooting In The Shallows (5:57) - Director Jaume Collet-Serra, star Blake Lively and the filmmakers talk about the challenges of filming the movie in open water, both from a physical standpoint and from a technical standpoint.
  • When Sharks Attack (7:34) - Shark attack survivor Steven Robles talks about his brush with death, and shark expert Chris Lowe discusses how to defend oneself in the event of a shark attack.
  • How To Build A Shark (6:56) - A look at the practical and visual effects behind the film's toothy antagonist.
  • Finding The Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island (6:01) - A look at the beauty and the challenges of filming on Australia's secluded Lord Howe Island.

The Shallows is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of September 27th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 26 Mins.

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