First of all, the important shit: it's Shark Week on Discovery Channel. If you're unfamiliar, Shark Week is like a seven-day summertime Christmas for armchair biologists, big-time weed smokers, and two-shifts-a-week restaurant staff.
Since 1987, Discovery Channel's Shark Week has delivered reliably awesome entertainment that made you feel totally OK holing up on the couch with your crew, blowing time and watching nature's greatest predator tear shit up. It's always a bit sensational (sharks aren't anywhere near as violent and deadly as titles like Isle of Jaws, Shallow Water Invasion, Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer, and Sharks vs Dolphins: Face Off imply) but Shark Week imbues knowledge while killing time — it's educational and it's fun.
And Blake Lively wants a piece of that action. The Shallows opens Friday at the always-dependable Village 8. Wisely, no one bothered with press screenings because it's about a surfing, scantily clad Lively who gets stranded on a rock just 200 metres from shore while a pissed-off great white shark tries to eat her. What more could you need?
The Shallows is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who specializes mostly in Liam Neeson action flicks (which is kinda its own genre now). How he will handle the steely-eyed, tragically underrated Blake Lively remains to be seen, but at 87 minutes this horror-survival flick is on the right track. And with Shark Week kicking off on Sunday June 26, dropping The Shallows as an appetizing morsel to the main event just makes good sense. I'll see you there.
Also dropping a bit early, Independence Day: Resurgence. In case you missed the multiple times it was mentioned in the first minute of the trailer: those aliens from the first one are coming back to do us in once and for all. Liam Hemsworth stars in the Maverick/Will Smith role and serial planet-exploding-end-of-world-guy Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, Godzilla , The Day After Tomorrow) directs. This is textbook popcorn cinema, visual spectacle over cerebral substance (with a healthy side of utter nonsense) and if you go in with lowered expectations, Independence Day: Resurgence will be a good time.
The real Independence Day (and Canada Day) fun starts next week when the Village 8 (hopefully) opens The Purge: Election Year on July 1. Based on the idea that society needs an annual lawless 12-hour murder spree in order to function properly, this franchise is really finding its ground. Dark, scary and written/directed by Purge mastermind James Demonaco, Election Year looks badass and should give us some good talking points as Western civilization continues to circle the drain.
Circling for the kill, the Downloads of the Week are all shark flicks. Jaws, the film that took the monster movie template and turned it into one of the most celebrated and scariest films of all time, is a no-brainer, but on the more B-grade end of the deep blue spectrum, Deep Blue Sea is about genetically modified super sharks ripping people apart and features perhaps the best shark death scene ever with Samuel L. Jackson.
Bait is a lesser-known "sharks on land" (that seems like its own genre too) flick that actually works pretty well for a shark movie set in a grocery store, during a hold up. Shark Attack 4: Megalodon isn't great but it contains one of the classiest pick-up lines ever captured on film, and hot documentary Sharkwater is mandatory viewing because if we aren't careful there literally won't be any sharks left in the near future.
Lesser-known, Blue Water, White Death is a 1971 documentary following a group of divers around the world on a quest to capture great white sharks on film. Apparently this was one of the inspirations for Jaws, but regardless it is a pretty kickass adventure with epic (especially by 1970s standards) shark footage and a real Life Aquatic vibe. And it's $4 on iTunes.
Back on the big screen, Free State of Jones also opens this week and stars Matthew McConaughey in a U.S. Civil War-era flick about a lone rabble rouser who you're god-damn-right embodies everything that makes the American spirit great. It looks stuffy and long in all the wrong ways to me but I'm sure some people will love it. I'll be at home watching Shark Week and wishing Squamish had a movie theatre so I could organize a The Shallows/Into the Blue matinee double feature.