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Great White (2021) Review

After Sharks of the Corn, Land Shark and Ouija Shark, the thought of a back-to-basics shark attack film like Great White seemed almost old-fashioned and quaint. I should make it clear before we go any further, I’m not talking about Enzo G. Castellari’s infamous Jaws rip-off from twenty years ago. This is a brand-new film from Australia, where they know a thing or two about sharks. But how much do they know about shark movies?

Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko, The Shannara Chronicles, Spartacus) and Kaz (Katrina Bowden, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Hunter’s Moon) have a business flying tourists around the Australian coast. Business hasn’t been good and Kaz is pregnant. So when Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi, The Bureau of Magical Things) and Joji (Tim Kano, Neighbours) need a flight out to a remote island at short notice they’re all too happy to do it.

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Along with Charlie’s assistant Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka, The Dead Lands, Love and Monsters), they fly out to the island. When they find the remains of a shark attack victim, they fly out to look for the boat he came from. They find it, and the remains of his girlfriend. But before they can take off again, the shark attacks the plane, leaving the five of them in a raft in the middle of nowhere.

Great White is director Martin Wilson’s first feature, but writer Michael Boughen had some credits that made me hope the film would stand out. He wrote and produced the interesting cannibal film Dying Breed and was a producer on The Loved Ones as well as the Jason Statham film Killer Elite.

Unfortunately, the script for Great White is nothing special, and that’s apparent right from the beginning. In a prologue, we see how Luke (Jason Wilder, Drive Hard, Social Media Murder Society) and Tracy (Tatjana Marjanovic, Monsters of Man, Shelter in Place) became the corpses we see later. The first death is as generic as it gets, the second involves a ridiculous twist.

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Great White does get better and has some tense moments. But there’s way too much of the cast moving their jaws rather than the shark using theirs. The midsection of the film, in particular, is slow. And when the shark does show up it’s utterly predictable who will live and who will die.

I found it amusing that the shark knows to bite through the plane’s pontoons to sink it, but flips their raft at one point rather than giving it the same treatment. Also, I learned that Australians can see quite well in saltwater without a mask. I guess they’ve evolved a way to keep it from making their eyes burn.

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We don’t see that much of the shark, and what we do see ranges from fairly impressive to obvious CGI. We also don’t see much of the attacks themselves. They are better done than the ones in Apex Predators, but they’re still mostly victims being pulled under by the unseen beast.

Apart from a couple of good scenes and some absolutely stunning scenery, Great White is just another bland and formulaic film. You’ll get more entertainment out of guessing what film various scenes were stolen from than from the plot itself. It is better than the likes of Shark Season or Killer Shark and might do if you’re not feeling fussy, but there are plenty of better shark films to choose from. And that includes the 1981 Great White.

Great White will be released in the UK on DVD and Digital via Altitude Film Distribution on May 17th. RLJE Films plans a summer theatrical and VOD release in North America. Great White will be available on Shudder at some point after that.

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