Picks and Pans Review: Great White

updated 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Just when Universal may have thought it was safe to go back to the theaters with Jaws III, along comes this toothless rip-off. (Universal tried and failed to obtain an injunction against the film on grounds of plagiarism.) The star is James Franciscus, who is more handsome than Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider put together, but less convincing. He plays a resolute writer-diver trying to alert an East Coast town to the offshore presence of a huge, voracious shark. Vic Morrow plays Franciscus' se dog sidekick, and he does everything but say "Shiver me timbers" to show how salty he is. There is also a local politician, Joshua Sinclair, who insists a regatta must go on, even if it only serves to provide hors d'oeuvres for the shark. The dialogue is plastic, and director Enzo G. Castellari can't build up anything like the intensity Steven Spielberg mustered in Jaws. The only excitement is some real-life footage of a great white shot off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. (One of Castellari's second-unit cameramen was killed by a shark during the filming.) The less authentic denizens of the screen are not nearly so impressive. (PG)

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