Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: A fun-filled flight to a remote atoll (ring-shaped coral reef or island) turns into a nightmare for five passengers when their seaplane is destroyed in a freak accident. The group end up trapped on a raft 100 miles from shore with man-eating sharks lurking beneath the surface.
Review: It’s hard coming up with a great man vs shark movie, isn’t it? You either have to play it straight (The Shallows, Open Water) or you go as over-the-top as possible (Deep Blue Sea, The Meg). And, no matter what you do, you’ll find your movie being compared to 1975’s Jaws, the grand daddy of shark movies. Great White chooses to play it straight and go the serious route, but let’s see if it’s all bark and no bite (yes, I know sharks don’t “bark”, but these growl for some reason, so it still counts). Let’s take a look at Great White.
You guys know I like giving you the good stuff first, so I’ll start by commending the visuals. Shot in Australia, home of director Martin Wilson, Great White has some gorgeous scenery on display. The location also adds to the believability of the story because, as everyone knows, if Australia was an Avenger it would be Black Widow. It’s a country that’s both beautiful and deadly, and home to countless creatures that can kill you just by looking at you (I’m pretty sure that’s true). With great white sharks also calling the oceans of Australia their home, this is the kind of place I would totally see something like this happening in real life. So I was all aboard (pun intended) for where this story would take me.
Another surprising aspect was the acting, that is to say, it’s good! Kidding aside, movies such as these usually have less-than-stellar performances delivered by people whose characters are so unforgettable, you tend to forget them as soon as they bite the big one (or, in this case, when the big one bites them) Here we have five main performers and each of them are actually fleshed out enough (well, at least four out of the five) as to give you characters worth investing in.
Yes, we do get our clichés, with one character being an ass from beginning to inevitable end, but even this guy has the redeeming quality of genuinely loving his wife. And maybe the reason he’s being such a dweeb has something to do with his phobia of drowning. Also, dude DID have a point early on about them leaving well enough alone. If they had listened to him, things would’ve turned out differently. Then again, we wouldn’t have a movie so…win-win?
Small budget movie means small budget problems though, the main one here being these CGI sharks look terrible. Not all the way terrible, but enough so you tend to notice and it pulls you out of the movie every time. Don’t get me wrong, Bruce (the shark from Jaws) was no looker himself and he hasn’t aged well, but Steven Spielberg was smart enough to recognise the problem and kept that big boy hidden for as long as possible. Director Martin Wilson does this too but at the expense of the pacing and the tension.
Finding that balance between the quiet moments in a thriller and the action-packed ones can’t be easy. The most recent Man vs Beast movie I saw was Crawl, which did a fantastic job of keeping the pressure on the audience while still delivering on the dramatic or emotional beats. With Jaws Spielberg kept us engaged while three grown men drunkenly told stories. It shouldn’t have worked but it’s one of the very best aspects of the film. Here, there’s just too much dead air and the film suffers for it.
All of the above is my longwinded way of saying Great White isn’t the best shark movie out there, but it’s no way near as bad as some of the reviews I’ve seen says it is. It features beautiful scenery, good performances, and a premise that is realistic enough to tap into your fears of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a predator stalking you every step of the way. It’s not going to end up on any Best Of lists, but when Shark Week comes around again it’s not a half bad way of spending some time with some great whites.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
So what’s your favourite shark movie (other than Jaws, of course)? And you can check out more great shark content below:
Shark thriller ‘The Shallows’ is a nail biter (Quick Bite review)
Deep Blue Sea 3 (yes, there is a part 3): Quick Bite Review
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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