Review: Great White (2021)

  • Director: Martin Wilson
  • Writer: Michael Boughen
  • Stars: Katrina Bowden, Aaron Jakubenko, Kimie Tsukakoshi, Tim Kano

Review

Summer means shark season, which means shark movie season and this year, Great White is hoping to be the movie to scare you right out of the ocean. But does it?

Charlie is a retired marine biologist running a tourist seaplane business with his girlfriend Kaz. After a perfunctory introduction and a really cheesy love scene, we know that they are desperate for clients. Of course, this is exactly when they receive a phone call booking a last minute charter.

Michelle and Joji are young, beautiful and wealthy and they want Charlie to fly them to the beach where Michelle’s grandfather became famous for surviving a shipwreck. After a nice lunch (cooked by Benny the chef), they will scatter the grandfather’s ashes so he can be with his shipmates.

Unfortunately, Michelle and Joji discover the remains of a shark attack victim and this causes all of the drama to begin to unfold. Michelle is crying, Charlie and Joji start fighting, Benny makes a lot of serious faces and Kaz finds a cell phone that somehow still has a charge. Before the group goes to look for any possible survivors, Kaz thinks this is a great time to tell Charlie that she’s pregnant. This is annoying for multiple reasons, but the main one being that we know she will survive simply because she is pregnant. This isn’t extreme horror, so ain’t no one killing off a pregnant woman. Basically, there is no suspense because the sharks menu has just been laid out for us by showing us each character’s “personality” traits and the order in which they will probably die.

While in the seaplane, Charlie explains that when he was a marine biologist, he studied sharks that pack hunt, but retired after being bitten by a shark. He tells Michelle and Joji that it’s not currently shark season and the only explanation for the body they found would have to be rising temperatures. Rising temperatures could throw off a shark’s feeding season and also cause a shortage of fish which could also explain why the sharks are eating people. And now we know the motivation behind the sharks who will attack the seaplane, knock over the life raft, open a door in an underwater shipwreck, endlessly taunt our five characters and even scream when attacked.

The numerous overhead shots of the two sharks in the water become tiresome, regardless of the ominous music playing alongside them and the characters have very little to offer other than reasons to root for them to die. In fact, I became quite invested in the two sharks. I like to imagine they are a long time married couple who escaped from the facility in Deep Blue Sea. They spend their twilight years hunting humans and get their kicks out of playing with their food. I actually felt bad for them when they were injured.

A small budget and bare bones script either works for you or against you and, unfortunately, for Great White, it’s the latter. Katrina Bowden (Kaz) and Kimie Tsukakoshi (Michelle) do the very best they can with what they have to work with and it’s commendable, but it isn’t enough to make the film anything other than a bland mashup of story elements that we’ve seen in dozens of other shark films.

Great White is available in Cinemas, On Demand & Digital – July 16

Lisa Fremont

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