CGB Review of The Shallows (2016)

So I happen to be a subscriber of YouTube’s Markiplier, who has repeatedly stated how much he hates the ocean.
After watching this flick, I now see why.

This is my review of The Shallows!

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To cope with the death of her mother, med student Nancy Adams takes a trip to a secluded beach to catch some waves, but when she is attacked by a shark and ends up stranded on a large rock, she must preserve in courage and strength in order to escape the shark and return to shore in one piece.

The Hits
Between this and Age of Adaline, it is clear that Blake Lively is more than capable of carrying a film on her own.  There is an everywoman quality to her that make her relatable, which hits home the idea that this scenario could happen to anyone.  Nancy’s resourceful nature and survival skills make her a worthy heroine to follow and give her plenty of agency.  Also, and this is to any fans of Saint Christopher, if you look closely, you’ll notice that Nancy is wearing a Saint Christopher medal.  🙂
The camera work is pretty good.  Not spectacular, but there are some beautiful shots of the ocean and the entire landscape.  Also, the swimming sequences and other scenes that call for Nancy to flee from the shark are nicely filmed to where you can actually make out what is happening.  I particularly like the seagull that hangs around with Nancy during her ordeal.  However, as an animal lover, I did find myself worrying about the seagull’s survival.  This Nostalgia Critic clip best demonstrates my feelings about the seagull: https://youtu.be/YOcDhyhZO5g?list=PLxMCAq3dOW6BTGLQCwH__KdU92O3Q5xDT
I really like that Nancy has a personal history with the island, how it is the same place where her late mother discovered she was pregnant with her [Nancy].  It gives the island a symbolic significance as the place she was conceived and the same place where her life could be brought to an end.

The Misses
While the movie does do an overall good job at suspension of disbelief, there are a few times where the main character makes one or two decisions that are hard to the audience to buy.
The scene where Nancy has to sterilize and patch up the deep wound in her leg is difficult to watch.  If you are squeamish, I recommend either getting a snack during the scene or just closing your eyes.
Okay, so there is an elephant in the room that must be addressed and this is kind of a SPOILER
In the middle of the film, Nancy sees a drunk man on the shore and tries to enlist his help, but when he goes into the water to steal her surfboard, he is mauled by the shark, resulting in him being (quite literally) torn in half.  We get one close-up shot of his body and then it just cuts to black.  We never see his body swept up by the waves or even his body lying on the sand after that.  The only reason this bugs me is because the story takes place over the course of a day and a half, so if his body wasn’t taken by the waves, then it should still be there when Nancy does make it off the tiny island she has been confined to.

The Shallows is a surprisingly intriguing thriller, held together by a committed performance from Blake Lively, clever editing and a suspenseful plot.  If you’re looking for a flick that keeps you on the edge of the seat till the very end, then The Shallows just might be the good time you’re looking for.

Saint Christopher, pray for us.

CGB Review of Pixels (2015)

I now understand why so many people hate this movie.

This is my review of Pixels!

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In Pixels, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) is a former video game champion turned home-theater installer who gets involved in a war between planet Earth and aliens who have misinterpreted video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war.
I remember the wave of scatching reviews that came out after the movie opened.  If you go on Rotten Tomatoes and type in “Pixels,” you will see its 17% score and a plethora of negative reviews.
So is it really 17% awful?  Well, yes and no.  I say this because Pixels is the boring kind of bad.
At least with Aloha, Pan and Fant4stic Four, I had a plethora of grievances to rant about.  Those movies made me mad and were painful to sit through, but they were never boring.

The biggest problem with this film is that the main characters should have been children.  Take out the military and Kevin James being President of the United States (yes, that is a thing that happens) and just have four twelve-year olds instead of forty-somethings going up against pixelated antagonists.   Sure, it would feel like “The Goonies” crossed with “Super Mario Brothers,” but I have a feeling that it would be a far better movie than this.
However, if the script demands that the main characters be adults, then they should have been YouTube Let’s-Players or, at the very least, professional video game players.  It shouldn’t be too hard to create characters based off of real life Let’s-Players like Markiplier and PewDiePie.  This would make the characters feel more modern and less insulting to gamers. Instead Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage are all annoying nerd stereotypes of what people think gamers are.
The reason Pixels is boring is because the “comedy” is stale.  With the exception of one or two jokes that got me to chuckle, the majority of the comedy is misplaced.  Look, Mr. Sandler, having a nine-year old boy casually talk about how his father cheated on his mother with a nineteen-year old yoga instructer and has since left the family is not funny.  If Pixels was written as a dark comedy, then I could see the humor, but this is a bouncy, slapstick adventure, so jokes about serious subjects aren’t going to work.

Between this and “The Cobbler,” I think I’ve figured out why current Adam Sandler movies don’t work.  It is because all of his movies are concepts, not fleshed-out stories.  When you are planning out a story, your concept is the basic premise; “Pixelated characters attack the world,” “Boy goes to magical school,” “Monkey washes a cat,” and so on.  The job of a writer is to take said concept and turn it into a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end.  If you have a concept and just roll with it without figuring out how it flows as a story, then you’re going to end up with Pixels: A sad and boring flick riddled with tired clichés and stereotypes.