Monday, July 12, 2021

Great White: They are a Summer Tradition

It wouldn't be summer without sharks, just like barbeque and the MLB All-Star game, but they are preferably seen from the safety of a movie screen. For a Japanese couple’s excursion, Kaz and Charlie did not set out looking for sharks, but they found two as a cool bonus. Somehow their clients don’t see it that way when they all wind up clinging to a life raft, with the sharks circling beneath them, in Martin Wilson’s Great White, which releases in theaters and on-demand this Friday.

Kaz and Charlie are really scuffling, so they needed Michelle and Joji’s tour, especially since Kaz is newly pregnant. As a trained marine-biologist working as a charter pilot, Charlie did not expect sharks to still be swimming in these waters so late in the season, but boy was he wrong. The entitled Joji took exception when Charlie made a detour in search of a missing vessel, but in retrospect, he may have had a point.

They do indeed find the derelict yacht, but they also discover what totaled it: two great white sharks hunting in tandem. The sharks make quick work of their seaplane, but the bright orange inflatable life raft is far more durable. (Seriously, the producers should tell us what brand it is, because it is amazingly shark resistant.) Regardless, it is highly unlikely help will be coming, so they must try to quietly ride the current back to shore. Of course, there are obvious flaws to this plan. If Joji and Michelle survive, Kaz and Charlie certainly can’t blame them if they leave a scathing Yelp review.

The reviews from film critics will not be much better. There have been plenty of entertaining post-
Jaws shark movies (Meg would be a standout thanks to the energy of Jason Statham and Li Bingbing), but Great White is just too simplistic and uninspired. Even the lifeboat tension between the super-jealous Joji and the charter’s Islander chef Benny feels blatantly contrived.

As Kaz and Charlie, Katrina Bowden and Aaron Jakubenko look like they spend a lot of time at the beach, which is something. Te Kohe Tuhaka (who is so impressively fierce in the
Dead Lands film and series) is largely wasted as the flirty Benny. Frankly, the best work on-camera comes from Kimie Tsukakoshi and Tim Kano as the mismatched couple. Kano is particularly effective projecting Joji’s arrogance and toxic self-esteem issues.

There are several impressive looking shark sequences in
Great White, which admittedly is really the whole point anyway. However, there really isn’t much to recommend the movie over dozens of other competent shark films. There just isn’t anything special here, especially not the clunky melodrama. Not recommended, Great White releases theatrically and on VOD platforms this Friday (7/16).