If you’ve read some of my previous reviews or chatted with me for longer than 3 minutes, then you know my favorite movie is Jaws. So I don’t have anything against movies about jerk sharks that are attacking with reckless abandon. As a shark enthusiast, I know that the rogue shark — and territoriality — are Matt Hooper’s theories. I don’t work for the Oceanographic Institute or rock a Canadian tuxedo, but I feel confident in saying that nothing has been proven where territoriality is concerned. At least through this rube’s eyes. I suppose it’s plausible considering that 98% of shark attacks are accidental and consist of an exploratory bite before the shark realizes the blunder. Embarrassing!
Any time a new shark movie comes out, some ding dong is always going to make the Jaws comparison in some way. It annoys me more than it probably should, because it only goes to show that Jaws set the bar. Any juxtaposition is merely complimentary.
So there I was, ready to hate this movie for no dang good reason, and I was being smug about it, too. Facebooking to my friends that I had a 10-spot on falling asleep before seeing the shark. Well, movie, you got me. Not only do you see the shark early on, it’s not at all overdone or cheesy. I mean, outside of the fact that the cardboard cutout of a great white that I have in my bedroom is more realistic than the one in the movie.
Nancy (Blake Lively) is a surfer. She speaks poquito Spanish — adorably — and doesn’t take her jewelry off before she goes in the water, which seems like a good way to lose it if you ask me. On hiatus from med school, she’s off to the hidden beach her mother surfed in her salad days.
Learning that her friend is bogged down with the Irish Flu, Nancy’s gonna go it alone and catch some choice waves in this crystal clear, cerulean Xanadu. She makes some new pals and together, they three ride the dopest of waves. I don’t know surfer jargon, but I’m trying.
After her new bros determine they’ve hung enough ten for the day, Nancy stays to ride one last wave. Oh, Nancy, why? Meanwhile, Nancy’s friend who was too hungover to come to the beach is off with some boy. This information is sent in a text that Nancy will never get. Nancy’s friend is a prize asshole.
After putting herself in a rather precarious pickle, it happens; The Bite. The worst, most unrealistic and aesthetically pleasing shark attack in the history of the cinema. Quint will tell you that when you’re in the water, you can tell how big a shark is by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. This one had to be a 20-footer. So the shark bites her leg and drags her down. Escaping, she scrambles atop a nearby rock to reveal the damage — a sizable gash.
No. No, movie. I’ve gone along with everything you’ve given me up until now. Her leg would’ve been gone. Or at least, the bite radius would’ve been much larger. Do you know what it’s like having to explain to your roommates why you were just in your bedroom shouting, “The bite radius! THE BITE RADIUS!”
From here on out, Nancy uses her cunning and her med school learnin’ to patch herself up and outwit the shark. She makes a little bird friend, Steven Seagull, and spends the rest of the film with the worst chapped lips I’ve ever seen. I literally could not focus on anything else. I went through an entire tube of chapstick on her behalf.
And, yes, the buoy scene from the trailer is delightfully similar to Brody on the sinking boat. I’m not even mad at it. I’m not mad at this movie at all. It’s actually quite good. There’s some laughs, some sweat, and the same feeling I get every time I watch the scene in Jaws where the fisherman is trying to outswim the shark and almost doesn’t get his foot out of the water in time. I love a small cast coupled with an isolated location and some hot cinematography. Watch it. Enjoy it. Shame on me for being so judgy. Even if that bite radius was as realistic as the shark itself.