Review: THE SHALLOWS is Tense But Silly B-Movie Chum

Two hundred yards from the shore of a secluded beach, Nancy (Blake Lively) lies bleeding on a rock. She's been bitten by a massive, bloodthirsty shark which stalks the small cove in which she's trapped, and her time is running out. This is the fundamental conflict of The Shallows, director Jaume Collet-Serra's new film that proudly stakes its claim as a modern B-movie.

The quick, lean set-up works well enough. Nancy has left medical school after her mom died of cancer and she's hunting for this Mexican beach because it has particular significance to their relationship (Mom surfed it when she was pregnant with Nancy). Her traveling buddy — who was supposed to be with her — bails on their surfing excursion because the friend is hungover from the night before, which explains why Nancy's alone on the beach. It's also established early on that this is a secret place not many people know about, so when the trouble begins, Nancy can't rely on outside help. She suits up, jumps on her board, and paddles out, meeting a couple of fellow surfers in the process and shredding some tubes (that's a phrase, right?). But when the guys swim to shore and call it a day, Nancy wants to catch one more wave, and that's when she's knocked from her board by a hungry shark who takes a bite out of her leg. Her med school background comes in especially handy as she treats her bite wound, and she's not entirely alone in this ordeal: there's an injured seagull (which she nicknames Steven Seagull) on her rock with her, serving as her own Castaway-esque Wilson that she occasionally talks to in order to verbalize her survival schemes.

Lively is far more convincing talking herself through her perilous situation than she is interacting with any of the other human characters in the movie. I can't just write her off as a bad actress because I think she occasionally shows flashes of steely resolve out on the water, and since she spends most of the movie by herself, I suppose she's actually pretty well cast in this film. Collet-Serra gives her a bunch of opportunities to capitalize on her strengths, and while the script goes off the rails a bunch of times, she's mostly capable of doing what's asked of her.

But let me be clear: this is a deeply silly movie. When Collet-Serra manages to create a nice sense of tension, it's because he plays on the audience's primal fears of what's lurking under the surface of the water. I was never truly concerned for Nancy as a person because writer Anthony Jaswinski did the bare minimum to fill in her backstory; any tension I felt came purely from a sense of empathy, of knowing what sharks are capable of doing to people in real life and a primal sense of not wanting to see that happen to anyone.

As is the case in most of Collet-Serra's other movies, the filmmaking is fine. He uses the same gimmicks you've seen in any other shark movie, but where this one notably fails is its use of music and sound. The soundtrack is totally forgettable, and though an ominous (but equally forgettable) score does eventually kick in, the director makes what I consider to be the worst choice in the movie: he inexplicably chooses to drop out all of the sound for a second or two right before pretty much every attack. This may work for one or two scares, but pretty soon I was trained: as soon as all the sound drops out, you know an attack is imminent. It took me out of the movie and deflated whatever tension he had built up to that moment. I kept thinking he was doing this to set up for a huge third act moment in which he subverted his own pattern, but that sadly wasn't the case.

Aside from the back and forth between Lively and the shark, there's not really much going on in this film. The movie is a pretty simple metaphor for Nancy getting over her mother's death, but there's one moment that aims to do something other than reinforce that central metaphor. When she's trapped on the rock, a guy swims out to try to help her, and she screams at him about the shark and warns him to go back to shore. He keeps swimming toward her and without hesitation yells back something like, "Don't worry, there aren't any sharks in this area!" That felt like the only moment in which anything more than just surface level themes (perseverance, family, etc.) were being explored, when Jaswinski and Collet-Serra were bashing the type of guys who feel compelled to send dismissive "actually" messages to women on Twitter.

Like the story as a whole, the climactic moment is — depending on your generosity as a viewer — simply implausible, gleefully idiotic, or somewhere in between. That's really what it comes down to with The Shallows: what kind of viewer are you? Are you willing to suspend disbelief and embrace the movie's inherent silliness, or will you get hung up on the ludicrousness of it all and only engage with the movie at an arm's length? I walked out of the theater thinking it was pretty bad, but I must admit after thinking about it for a few hours, it's still disappointing and far from a modern classic, but it's also not quite as bad as I thought. I'd love to hear what you think about it if you decide to wade in and check it out.

Intriguing Details on Darth Vader’s Role in STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE and James Earl Jones Is Back!

We've known that James Earl Jones would be reprising his role as Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for awhile now, but today, Lucasfilm made it official in the recent issue of EW. They also offer up some additional details on the villain in the film and how big of a presence he'll have.

Vader is described as a background player in galactic politics. He is the right-hand man of the Emporer and is "the muscle. The fixer. And also… the breaker, when he needs to be." Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explains that Rogue One will make careful use of Vader.

“He will be in the movie sparingly. But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.”

Vader mostly operates under the radar, and the rebels are hardly familiar with him. Even within the Empire, Vader is more of a bogeyman-type legend. Director Gareth Edwards explains:

“Within the Rebellion, it’s not commonly spoken about. Within the Empire, there is the culture of knowing of the existence of Darth Vader. There’s definitely an underlying feeling that there is a power – a dark power – available to the Empire and that if you overstep your mark, you will suffer the consequences.”

Well, we've all seen what happens to people in the Empire that overstep their mark with Vader! It's also explained that Vader does not get along at all with Ben Mendelsohn’s villainous character Director Orson Krennic. They are described as being barely allies, and Krennic is threatened by the Sith Lord. Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s chief of story development says:

“Vader doesn’t really play by the rules. He’s present in the military structure, but he’s not beholden to it. He’s not accountable to anybody, really, except Palpatine.”

Hart goes on to explain that the volatile and unsettling things about Vader that we saw in the original trilogy will be seen in Rogue One. She then harkens back to the original Star Wars films and talks about the mysteries of character saying:

“When Tarkin says to Vader to ‘release him’ when he’s choking that guy, Vader does it, but not because he has to. He’s just willing to give Tarkin one in that moment. That’s part of what makes the reveal of the Emperor, even in a hologram in Episode V, so cool because you’re like, ‘Oh, wow. Here is the guy that Vader literally bends his knee to. What’s that all about?’”

The report expands on that and what that means for Rogue One, saying "That’s what Krennic is trying to figure out, too: How can he acquire that most-favored status? What is it between the Emperor and Vader that binds them?" I imagine that "most-favored status" is something that he's not going to get. It sounds a lot like the relationship between Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke. 

The Death Star is the tool that Emperor Palpatine will use to control the galaxy, and Krennic is focused on taking out the Rebel strike force to protect the plans of the Death Star from being stolen, and there's Vader looking over his shoulder and breathing down neck.

Director Gareth Edwards then recounts his experience coming face-to-face with Vader for the first time in real life, saying:

“He’s got more in common with lighting a car than a person, so we wanted to get it exactly right. We had the breathing sound just to inspire everyone. I just got massive goosebumps. I was so nervous to turn the corner and see him. You have to pinch yourself. Everyone became children again, so easy. You just go straight back to being a 4-year-old, like, in a heartbeat.
“There’s all these rules about security on set, but I couldn’t help it. I got my phone out and started taking pictures of him, and pictures of me with him, because I felt like no one would ever believe that I’d met Darth Vader.”

I can't wait to see Vader back up on the big screen in a new story. It's going to be so cool! Rogue One open up in theaters in December of this year!.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Flaming Chain Promo Art Sparks Ghost Rider Fan Speculation

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What happens when Marvel releases promo art for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring flaming chains? The fans go crazy and start to speculate that Ghost Rider is going to show up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. next season, that's what! 

I say fans have good reason to speculate that because look at the promo art that is being plastered on all of the trains in San Diego for Comic-Con. That big flaming chain just screams Ghost Rider! If it's not Ghost Rider, the only other character I can think of is Hellfire, who also uses flaming chains as weapons and has already been played with in the series.

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Marvel can't put a flaming chain on something like this and think fans aren't going to think anything but Ghost Rider, because that's who they really want to see. Hellfire is the more likely choice, though, because no really gives a shit about him and they'll probably give him a decent sized story arc this coming season.

I'm sure Marvel will reveal the meaning behind it during the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel at Comic-Con next month. Here's a clip featuring Hellfire from last year.

New TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT “Squeaks” Robot Character Revealed

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Director Michael Bay has released a couple new photos from the set of Transformers: The Last Knight, and they reveal a new robot character named Squeaks. The character is obviously being used to help draw in the kids.

The first image above features Bay with the film's Isabella Moner and Squeaks. Below you'll find a second image of just Squeaks peeking over some junk. I also included a video of Josh Duhamel on the set, who returns as Lieutenant Colonel Lennox.

There's no information on the character other than what you see here, but it looks like Squeaks transforms into a rusty old moped that I imagine Moner's character will ride around on in the movie. 

The movie also stars Mark WahlbergJerrod Carmichael, Laura Haddock, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Last week, some rumors leaked regarding certain plot points of the film that I found interesting. If you missed that, make sure to click here to check it out.

Transformers: The Last Knight will be released in theaters on June 23, 2017. To read up on all our previous news regarding the film, click here.

 

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To quote @joshduhamel, "#transformers 5, baby!"

A video posted by Transformers (@transformersmovie) on

Official SUICIDE SQUAD Music Video Features New Film Footage – “Heathens”

Last week, Warner Bros. released the soundtrack listing for David Ayer's upcoming Suicide Squad film. Today we have the first music video featuring a song called "Heathens" by the band Twenty One Pilots. The highlight of the music video is the cool new footage from the film that it features. There was a lot more than I was expecting, and most of it is from within the prison where the villains are being held. 

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?

Suicide Squad opens in theaters beginning August 5th, 2016.

ROGUE ONE’s Saw Gerrera Character Was Originally in the Live-Action STAR WARS Series

Some interesting new details have emerged regarding Forest Whitaker's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story character, Saw Gerrera. We know the character was first introduced in the Star Wars universe in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but before that he was supposed to be in the live-action Star Wars TV drama being developed by George Lucas.

Star Wars Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo talked about the character on this week's episode of The Star Wars Show explaining:

"A lot of people know him from The Clone Wars, but he actually started off before that. George Lucas had him in mind for his live action [Star Wars] TV series that he had in development. That never happened, but he found a place to put Saw into a story in Clone Wars."

Every time I hear about that abandoned Star Wars: Underworld series, my heart sinks because everything that I've heard about it has sounded pretty amazing. Hidalgo offered some more in-depth information on the character:

"He's sort of an extreme Rebel. He's definitely against the Empire, but he does things that morally push against the kind of things that Bail Organa and Mon Mothma stand for. Story Group brought Saw to the conversation. They took that character, ran with it, and as they were developing the script, there was only one person they wanted to play this character, and that was Forest Whitaker, and we're very fortunate to have him in this movie."

Hidalgo moved the conversation to Twitter where he continued to educate fans on Saw Gerrera's history, explaining:

"To reiterate, he was an idea developed for the proposed live action TV show, but was introduced in The Clone Wars. George Lucas, working in his inimitable non-linear way realized him as extremist first, and then revealed his backstory in The Clone Wars.” 

Apparently, there were a lot of ideas from the live-action Star Wars series that ended up being used in Clone Wars, and not just in the later seasons. They were pulling stuff from the live-action development as far back as season two of The Clone Wars! He went on to give this other bit of info to think about:

"Think of Saw as the uncle [that] mom and dad don't talk about. Something bad went down. He's 'disowned' to some degree. Saw was militarized by the Republic to fight a proxy war against their worst enemy. A generation later, he becomes their worst enemy."

Saw Gerrera sounds like such an incredibly interesting character, and I can’t wait to learn more about him in Rogue One! To read up on the previous information that we had on the character, click here. The fact they are using this character opens the door to pulling other characters from the animated Star Wars series that we’ve all come to love and enjoy in any future Star Wars films.

Mark Millar Reveals and Discusses His New Female African-American KICK-ASS

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Mark Millar has unveiled a new black female version of Kick-Ass. The upcoming comic he's developing with artist John Romita Jr. will be called Kick-Ass: The New Girl. The original story followed a geeky teen named David Lizewski who transforms himself into a real-life superhero who learns the hard way that the life of a superhero isn’t easy.

I’m a huge fan of the Kick-Ass comics and films, and this new version of the character could be awesome. Millar doesn’t give any real details on the new character or the plot. However, it will be set in a different city with a new supporting cast of characters. While talking to THR, Millar said:

“Comics is not short of white males aged around 30; that demographic seems pretty well catered for in popular culture. I don’t think many blonde white guys around 30 feel under-represented when they pick up comic or watch a movie. Being older or younger or female or African-American just seems more interesting to me as a writer because this character is quite unique and opens up story possibilities that haven’t been tried in almost eighty years of superhero fiction. This woman has a completely different take on Kick-Ass.”

He went on to explain that he sees Kick-Ass as a legacy character, where it doesn’t matter who is wearing the suit. It’s all about the story being told.

“Kick-Ass is like James Bond or Doctor Who, where with a new face and a new situation and it suddenly feels very exciting. Every four volumes or so I want a different person in the mask. Sometimes it might even only last a single volume or even a single issue.”

Millar then explained why he had the desire to come back to Kick-Ass and write more stories:

“I really just missed Kick-Ass. It was a funny book because it was about a guy who had no powers, no gadgets and wasn’t very good and yet it was massive. We had two movies in our first five years, games merchandise and so on. It’s been three years and Johnny and I both just really missed the concept. It’s fun to write and after all the fantasy and space opera and vast budget superheroes it’s actually been amazing to get into something grounded again.”

I can’t wait to see what he has in store for this new character and the violent adventures that await her. 

Funko Unveils Awesome DARK CRYSTAL Landstrider Action Figure Set

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I’ve been seeing a ton of San Diego Comic-Con exclusive toys being revealed recently, and this is easily one of my favorites! This is Funko’s Comic-Con exclusive ReAction: Dark Crystal Landstrider Box Set, and I need it! 

Is this an indication that we might see a Dark Crystal ReAction figure line in the near future!? I sure hope so! The Dark Crystal was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and I would absolutely love to own a collection of action figures based on the legendary Jim Henson fantasy adventure film.

It so damn hard to get these exclusive Funko Figures at Comic-Con, so the odds are not in my favor. But damn it to hell… I'll try!