MOVIE BUFF-ET: The Shallows offers solid B-movie thrills, but Dory may be the catch of the summer


If you’ve seen Jaws, I’m not sure there is any true reason to watch another shark-attack movie, other than for more realistic special effects, but The Shallows is a much better movie than most of the other options available.

I ‘d still give The Deep the nod over The Shallows as the second-best shark-related film. It’s hard to top Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, and the king of the shark movies Robert Shaw in their prime, but I did enjoy the movie directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.

The plot is reminiscent of Gravity featuring a grieving woman on her own in a struggle against nature, just in a different setting. The movie does have a found-footage element to provide some background, and it also uses texting as an exposition device, which has become a tired trend already.

However, films don’t have to be original to be entertaining, and The Shallows achieves that mark primarily because of the performance of Blake Lively as med student Nancy Adams, who takes a solo surfing trip to the favorite Mexican beach of her recently deceased mother. Little does she know there is a determined great white shark with a taste for human flesh prowling the waters of her escape destination.

The movie is intense and gruesome in just the way a shark movie should be. Thank Collet-Serra’s background in horror for that. However, it’s Lively, who pulls off the task of being both desperate and resourceful as the conceit of the film demands. A rising tide traps her on a rock some 200 yards from shore as the shark circles her dwindling safety zone.

While the movie is rife with implausibilities and coincidences, Lively’s performance drew me into the film, allowing me to look past quibbles that might otherwise ruin the experience. The Shallows isn’t a great movie, but it’s a solid summertime thriller.

Grade: B-

Finding Dory

(PG) 1 hr., 42 mins.

Continuing its rebound after few off efforts, it appears Disney/Pixar’s got its groove back. I’m not sure if I would go as far to say that Finding Dory is better than Finding Nemo, but I doubt there will be another movie this summer that will be more effective at hitting it’s target audience right in the feels.

Finding Dory is an engaging work of storytelling that’s heartfelt and touching but also fun and exciting. There is something for everyone as long as he or she doesn’t outright object to animated fare as entertainment or dismiss sequels out of hand.

As one who helps with the care of a family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, the scenes where Dory’s adopted clownfish family of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) become frustrated by Dory’s short-term memory issues hits home. The scenes aren’t harsh, but they are truthful.

That memory loss, which Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) had from birth, is the crux of the film. Dory’s inability to remember separated her from her parents at an early age. However, when she begins to have flashes of family memories, she sets out on an adventure to reunite with them.

Much like last year’s Inside Out, the film delves into some melancholy and even lonely places that I found cathartic. However, those who dote on action and comedy certainly aren’t left out. The film climaxes on a high note with a chase scene involving denizens of the deep desperately seeking to stop a moving truck headed for an aquarium in Cleveland.

Grade: A

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Classic Corner

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

In conjunction with Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events, the Malco Razorback theater will have special showings of the 1971 fantasy classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at 2 p.m. Sunday and at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Gene Wilder stars as the mad chocolatier, who hides five golden tickets in chocolate bars. The lucky ticket finders win a trip to Wonka’s chocolate factory with a guest of their choice and a lifetime supply of chocolate. The movie is a musical adaption of the 1964 Roald Dahl novel.

Charlie wins the last golden ticket and joins four bratty children and their chaperone on the tour of a lifetime that is both amazing and creepy. Each of the five children’s own character faults leads to what seems to be somewhat disastrous consequences.

Wilder is both charming and a bit menacing as Wonka, who reminded me of a loony Batman villain from the 1960s TV series, but it turns out he’s not as mad as he seems. Wonka uses the tour as a morality challenge for the five children. Did Charlie pass? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.

Peter Ostrum gives a solid child’s performance as Charlie, but Jack Albertson provides the film’s emotional heart as Grandpa Joe, who goes on the tour with Charlie. The sets and color scheme are fantastic, and they no doubt will look amazing on the big screen. “The Candy Man” is the perfect song for a movie about Wonka.