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Great White (2021) – Review: An Underwhelming Shark Movie That Lacks Bite

August 4, 2021

Quick Thoughts: – Grade – D – Great White is an underwhelming shark film that doesn’t have any bite. The characters aren’t likable enough to carry the film, and the occasionally beautiful cinematography can’t carry the action scenes that rely on contrived moments to create tension.

Directed by Martin Wilson (famed commercial director who made his feature film debut with Great White) and starring Katrina Bowden, Aaron Jakubenko, and Kimie Tsukakoshi, Great White is a shark movie that takes itself too seriously, and let’s itself down when it moves inside a soundstage for the night scenes. The idea is sound, as placing several people (who are either pregnant, wildly jealous, or afraid of sharks after an attack) in a life raft and having them be harassed by sharks is always fun, but the movie falls apart when it isn’t showing us beautiful overhead footage of the Australian Coast. 

The worst part about Great White is that you feel horribly for the great whites. In the best shark films like Jaws, Deep Blue Sea and The Shallows, the sharks are comically evil, genetically modified, or oddly vindictive, and they are treated like horror movie villains, and not like actual great whites (who are beautiful creatures). Great White keeps things grounded, which means when the sharks eventually die, you feel bad for them because they were just doing their thing, and they end up getting killed. Also, since the characters are thinly drawn, and only two of them come across as actual humans (Bowden and Jakubenko are solid), the kills don’t mean anything because there is no connection to them. For instance, Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka), a likable character, dies when Joji (Tim Kano – stuck with a wildly underwritten character) who is annoyed that Benny is assisting his wife Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi), pushes him into the water, and before Benny can make it back to the raft, he is killed. So, essentially, Joji is a murderer, who probably should go to jail if he survives the ensuing attacks. It’s unnecessary moments like this that do nothing for the film, and start making you consider laws about shoving people into water and causing them to be eaten by a shark. 

If you’ve been following MFF for a while, you know that I love pretty much every shark movie ever made (We started Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast). I bought Great White without ever seeing a trailer, and I regret buying it because it does nothing for the genre, as the obviously fake soundstage work (which was necessary for the budget), wonky lighting, occasionally bad VFX, and lack of memorable characters make it hard to enjoy. I really wanted to love Great White, and if I didn’t, I was fully prepared to defend it by saying “A bad shark movie is better than most other movies.” However, Great White is a middling film that does nothing to warrant a cult audience, or “so bad, it’s good” consideration.

Final thoughts Great White is a subpar shark film that should only be watched by shark movie completists. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2021 11:51 am

    Joji must have been a newlywed. Thanks for a great review.

    • August 4, 2021 5:43 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! I hate giving movies low grades, but I had to give it a D.

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