Movie Review Friday: Island of the Great White Shark
Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.
This 43-minute documentary opens in San Diego, where researchers gather to embark on a 22-hour boat ride to Isla Guadalupe, an island off Baja California's coast. Many of the marine scientists and eco-tourists on the expedition have studied great whites, but for the first time in their lives, will observe them in the wild. They're headed to one of nature's dwindling sanctuaries for the shark, an ideal place for diving and study. The group hopes to better understand the sharks' daily activities and migratory patterns which, in turn, should help inform how to better protect the feared animal from slaughter and extinction.
Upon reaching the island, the researchers wait for the predator's arrival; the film succeeds in depicting how much waiting is involved, how much patience and persistence is required. After much anticipation, the massive creature finally surfaces and the scientists express awe.
The film combines bumpy sea footage and interviews with leading shark experts, and gives a detailed look at the many failed attempts to tag the sharks. Viewers gain an appreciation for the amount of work involved. We also get shots of the island at dawn and dusk, and of great whites gliding by with reflections of light dancing across their bodies. We start to see the great white not as a ravenous eating machine, but rather as a graceful, cautious creature vital to the future of marine life.
We also see the ever-encroaching threats of poaching and commercial fishing; the question of whether science can overcome greed comes up a lot. We're left wondering whether great whites will live near Isle Guadalupe years from now, if there's still time to save them, and who will act as the ambassadors for their preservation.