It never fails, if I see the words “based on a true story” and “shark” in the same sentence, I am automatically excited, so when I heard about director Martin Wilson’s Great White I had to see it.
In the film, “seaplane operators and couple, Kaz Fellows (Katrina Bowden) and Charlie Brody (Aaron Jakubenko), along with their three passengers, Joji Minase (Tim Kano), his wife Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi), and hand Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka) set out on a flight to the picturesque Hell’s Reef. Soon their idyllic trip turns into a fight for survival when they become stranded miles from shore and in grave danger from what lurks just below the surface. Their only chance of survival is to get to the beach, but with two Great White sharks hunting them, the odds are not in their favor. What ensues is a battle for survival of epic proportions against nature’s perfect predator.”
This movie doesn’t dick around. It’s action and death right from the get-go as a couple is killed by a great white within the first five minutes. Here’s the thing though, if they would have swum to the beach, which was closer than their boat, they probably would have survived. That’s just the first of several odd choices made just to further the storyline.
The best part of Great White is the way the sharks and deaths are handled. Clearly, the director, Martin Wilson, and Michael Boughen, the film’s writer, are fans of Jaws. They followed the same “less is more” tactic as the classic, only showing the shark a few times. Instead, they rely on revealing’ the shark’s dorsal fin and music to let us know the predator is coming. I think it was a fantastic choice.
The special effects are well done. The dead bodies and the sharks look great and are very realistic. The combination of practical and CGI effects are impressive. My favorite is the body prop on the island. It looks so real and it’s nasty.
I wish I could say that I was as impressed by the characters. What we get is a reasonably dull reaction to their friends and loved ones dying and realizing that they are stranded. If I was being hunted by a shark and stranded on an inflatable raft in open water, I would be freaking the f*ck out. So the lack of emotion that most characters display in this movie confuses me. The characters aren’t particularly likable either. It may just be me, but I need to connect with characters to stay invested in a movie. The cast has proven in previous roles that they can act, so what happened here?
One of the big parts of the story is the fact that Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko) is a survivor of a shark attack, yet he makes moronic choices that put him and the group in danger, again and again. Hell, they all do. For a marine biologist turned tour guide and a nurse, they sure act ignorant about safety and sharks. I am not a fan of poor character choices just to further a storyline, but that’s what I saw here over and over.
The movie is from the executive producer of 47 Meters Down. Now, that’s a great shark movie. You would think they would know better. The movie starts out strong, unfortunately, it doesn’t keep up the momentum with several long lulls in the action. The movie had so much potential, but instead of investing a great storyline and character development, we get a shallow story and characters that lack depth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is a horrible movie, I just think some bad decisions were made. Compared to a lot of the recent shark movies we’ve gotten, it’s actually pretty decent. Would I recommend it? Yes, just don’t go into it expecting it to be the next Jaws. Great White swims into theaters and arrives on Digital and On Demand on July 16, 2021.
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