Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Shallows 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl,” The Age of Adaline) stars in The Shallows, the suspenseful thriller that taps into one of man’s most primitive fears – what’s lurking beneath the ocean’s surface? Lively stars as Nancy, a surfer attacked by a great white shark a mere 200 yards from the shore of a secluded Mexican beach. As she struggles to survive, It’s not just another day at the beach when The Shallows arrives on digital September 13 and Blu-ray, DVD and next-generation 4K Ultra HD September 27 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray, DVD, digital and 4K Ultra HD releases come loaded with bonus material, including deleted scenes and four behind-the-scenes featurettes. 

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Medical school dropout, Nancy (Blake Lively), recently lost her mother. She is headed out to a secret beach from an old photograph. Nancy’s mom took a picture on that very beach just after learning she was pregnant with Nancy. A local resident is kind enough to take Nancy to the beach. He tells her that they don’t see many gringos in the area, certainly not pretty young women alone. Nancy is brave, and smart enough not to surf at night. She had a traveling companion, Anna whom she describes as smelling like “Don Julio and bad choices.” Anna is too hung over to see paradise and Nancy is left at the secluded beach. It is clear from Nancy’s labeled sunscreen bag that she’s a planner who is well organized.

Nancy’s sister Chloe (affectionately nicknamed Short Crop) is back home in Texas with her father who is understandably concerned about his daughter’s recent travel. After a quick video call to show Short Crop that she found the beach, Nancy heads in the water. Nancy meets to local surfers enjoying the waves. She keeps her distance but gets the low down on dangers in the area. They mention fire coral and a rock that becomes an island at low tide. They do not mention a great white looking for a snack.

As the day comes to an end, Nancy wants one more wave. She paddles out from the beach and discovers a dead whale floating in the water. With birds flying above and blood in the water, Nancy realizes that she’s not in a great location and paddles back before catching a wave. A shadow lurks in the wave behind her and she is soon underwater, surrounded by her own blood. This is not the case of mistaken identity where a shark bites a human and leaves her alone when it realizes she isn’t a seal. This shark wants Nancy for dinner and will not leave until finished with her. Nancy clings to the dead whale, rocks and a buoy, waiting to be rescued. 

For a film with one actor (two if you count the shark) and one location, The Shallows remains interesting throughout the film. There is genuine tension and anticipation that isn’t lost on the second viewing. Especially when the shark makes its first strike, I knew it was coming but had the same reaction. Many of the shots are designed to bring a visceral reaction to the surface. Having never encountered one, I happen to be terrified of sharks so the film had no trouble making me anxious for the main character’s survival. 

Anyone who has studied, or even particularly cares for sharks will tell you that sharks do not behave in the manor depicted on screen. You have to get past the idea that the shark would take a bite of a young woman on a surf board and then stalk her in and out of the water (while she’s standing on a rock island) for days. The shark would also not use problem solving skills to manipulate the environment. None of that bothers me. You have to just go with it. This will go into regular rotation in the fun scare/creature section of my Blu-ray shelf.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
The Shallows 1080p Blu-ray looks great and you’d never know you were missing anything until you watched the 4K Ultra. The first shark attack seen in the film is amazingly vivid, even underwater. It feels like you could reach out and grab the man’s hand, just before he’s eaten. The location is amazing and the 4K disc gives it that bump to the next level making you want to renew your passport and travel to the island. The 4K disc provides a more realistic image with an incredibly sharp and detailed picture. At night, underwater (even in bloody water) the picture is always clear.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack but the 4K Atmos mix is spectacular. You can close your eyes and listen to the ocean but the best comes from the underwater action. The side channels are well used when creating the immersive experience. The lower channels add depth and drama to the well balanced mix.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
With only one main character I see why they left out a gag reel but I was surprised to see that there was not a bonus feature dedicated to Blake Lively learning to surf. The Blu-ray contains the following extras:
  • Deleted Scenes – Three deleted scenes available with play all function or individually: “Chloe Seek the Shark”, “Call for Help”, and “A Conversation with a Seagull”.
  • Shooting in the Shallows – Blake Lively discusses what attracted her to the project and Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Producers talk about the challenges associated with making the film and the physicality required. 
  • When Sharks Attack – A firsthand account from a shark attack survivor, including graphic photos and rescue video. The CSU Long Beach Shark Lab Director explains shark behavior and what to do if you are attacked.
  • How to Build a Shark – A look at the design process from conception to scale model and eventually computer generated shark. This featurette explains the care that was taken to make sure that the CD Shark melded with the real world and the main character.
  • Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island – The search for the perfect island and described in the screenplay. The filmmakers scouted the world for the tropical untouched island that would double for Mexico. Challenges with the remote location are discussed as well as the care and concern taken to leave as few footprints as possible, on the beach during filming and the island itself afterwards.
  • Previews – Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, Don’t Breathe, Final Fantasy XV: Kingslave and The Bronze.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I highly recommend The Shallows to anyone that enjoys seeing a mean shark give a surfer a very bad day. As with Jaws or Deep Blue Sea you have to overlook the behavior of real sharks in similar situations. The 22 foot great white shark in this film is smart, scary, fun to watch (in a very morbid way). Whether you are rooting for Blake Lively or the shark, it’s an interesting thriller with some breathtaking moments.

Order your copy today!

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