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White Squall

video review out of 4 Movie Review: White Squall

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall
Director: Ridley Scott
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: February 1996
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: John Savage, Scott Wolf, Jeremy Sisto, Balthazar Getty, Ethan Embry, Ryan Phillippe, David Lascher, Jason Marsden

Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4

Ridley Scott doesn't seem to be particularly choosy when Hollywood studios offer him something to direct. That might explain not only genre diversity of his film, but also their quality. During his career Scott made his mark both with masterpieces and some dreadful films (like HANNIBAL). Some of his films also quickly vanished from people's memory, and WHITE SQUALL, 1996 period coming-of-age drama, belongs to that category.

The plot of the film is based on real-life events that began in 1960. Couple of teenage boys boarded "Albatross", school ship where they would spend academic year preparing for college and learning naval skills. The ship is commanded by Captain Christopher Sheldon (played by Jeff Bridges), authoritarian determined to help boys overcoming their weaknesses, learn to act together and become men. His pupils and the crew, that includes his wife and ship's doctor Alice (played by Caroline Goodall), spend next eight months sailing around the world and encounter many adventures. But hardly anything may prepare them what awaits them at the end of their journey - "white squall", freak storm with powers to defeat even the sturdiest ships and most experienced of seamen.

Just like any other Scott's movie, WHITE SQUALL is characterised by stunning visuals. All this is most evident in the scene that depicts titular event - in the film scenes lasts for ten breath-taking minutes (which took thirty seconds in real life). Unfortunately, this event takes place near the end of film. Until that time audience must endure incredibly Todd Robinson's inept script full of cliches inspired by DEAD POETS SOCIETY. In this movie we could hardly care about characters, partly because of irritating deja vu effect and partly because they are all played by good-looking young men who look almost identical to each other. All of Scott's direction and beautiful images can't compensate this utter bore and audience would probably await the storm to come to their rescue. Alas, the movies' problems don't stop there because the storm is followed by extra twenty or so minutes of Coast Guard hearing in which we are again treated to Robinson's pathetic attempt to milk previous hit, in this case SCENT OF A WOMAN. If someone wants to see movie about real life naval disaster, Wolfgang Petersen's PERFECT STORM represents much wiser choice.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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