White Squall (1996)

DEAD SAILORS SOCIETY is the unfortunately appropriate description of this
aspiring, real-life drama that ends up, well, all wet.  The plot, based on
the true 1961 incident, centers on the floating school-ship Albatross. 
Its crew of thirteen high-schoolers have signed-on for a year of sailing
'n' schooling, just as *we* have signed-on for a grand coming-of-age tale
set against the allure and adventure of the high seas.  Unfortunately for
us *and* them, neither gets what they expected. 

WHITE SQUALL is a confounding film.  The visuals are great, as only Ridley
Scott (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER) can render them; equally good is Jeff Bridges,
who gives a strong, salty performance as the no-nonsense Captain.  "If we
don't have order, we don't have anything," he notes and to which somebody
behind the camera should've taken seriously.  For starters, all the young
dudes look alike.  There's nary a distinguishing trait between them, other
than the fact that they all look like Tom Cruise.  The passage of time is
never properly charted, also a problem, nor is the awesome "strength of
the sea" given it's proper due.  That is, until the climax. 

What happens to the Albatross-- and after someone shoots a dolphin, no
less!-- could be an outtake from Robert Shaw's speech in JAWS.  Man goes
out on boat with three crew and thirteen lads; only eleven return.  The
villain-- impressively rendered inside an indoor tank-- is a freak meteor-
logical phenom called a "white squall," which hits near the end of the
film.  Water water everywhere and soon the surviving captain and crew are
blubbering and bonding before a condemning Coast Guard tribunal.  It's a
stupid, sappy ending to an already waterlogged movie.  Arrggh.  (Rated
"PG-13"/128 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: February 5, 1996

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