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White Squall
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Reviews & Ratings for
White Squall More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A well-produced and directed film of a true story

Author: david tolfree from Manchester, England
15 January 2000

I saw this film on TV for the first time last week. Although the story line was a little weak, the film sequences at sea were excellent, particularly the final storm (white squall) in which the boy actors portrayed the reality of the tragedy.

Jeff Bridges gave a good performance as the captain whose task was to instil discipline and develop the characters of the boys in his charge. However, some members of the crew were miscast.

I highly recommend this film.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed...

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
15 June 2006

I would say that "White Squall" deserves more credit than it got when it was released. Portraying several young men and their captain (Jeff Bridges) going sailing and encountering a devastating storm, the movie really holds you. Never getting preachy about friendship and never turning into a silly action flick, it's a movie that knows how to tell a story. Another good addition to Ridley Scott's filmography. And that one scene with the Dutch school girl...hubba hubba! On another note, this movie was my introduction to Ryan Phillippe, who plays one of the young men (although his name didn't enter my vocabulary until I saw "I Know What You Did Last Summer"). Also starring are John Savage, Jeremy Sisto (Billy on "Six Feet Under"), Ethan Embry and Zeljko Ivanek. Certainly worth seeing.

I have to admit, I would never want to go sailing. Too many bad things seem to happen.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Always makes me cry.

Author: Rebecca from Tennessee
16 December 1999

I love this movie. It is one of the saddest I have ever seen. Whenever I need a good cry, I watch this one. This role of Gil is one of Ryan Phillippe's best so far. Scott Wolf was wonderfully intense in it too as Chuck. Most of the other men actors were wonderful in their roles also. Jeff Bridges' presence and all-knowing character truly completes the movie. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

could've been corny and preachy but is actually rousing and tough and formidably directed

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
20 August 2008

White Squall is based on a true story; ultimately tragic but also of the 'inspiring' sort we get often at the movies. It could've been the kind of corny 'this is what I learned and now I'm blah blah' kind of storytelling that gets excruciating after a while in Hollywood movies. Apparently, thankfully, Ridley Scott knew this and took on White Squall as a challenge: take a character ensemble, the kind of 'male camaraderie' picture that with a few alterations (i.e. reduce some sexual content) could have been produced in the 50s or 60s with a Burt Lancaster or other as the lead, and make it mostly tough and sentimental only in that rugged John Ford sort of sensibility. He succeeded admirably as his film is what it wants to be, which is surprising considering the "it's Dead Poets Society at sea" criticisms I had read online. It's fairly old-fashioned in some ways, but its presented in all the ways that matter.

What's also impressive is seeing Scott attempt an ensemble based around character and, up until the last quarter of the picture, not really based on plot. He's done other pictures that have been ensembles, in fact a lot of them, but mostly they're wrapped around the story as it unfolds. In White Squall a lot of things happen, and characters come and go and lessons are learned and there are even a few tears, but it's based around character and it's fascinating to see Scott work with this nearly loose structure. Certainly his cast is a big help, as Jeff Bridges makes an equally formidable lead as the Skipper of the Albatross, the ship for a group of young men going for many months out to sea to "become men", or rather take the SATs and become a stronger community on a ship. While we only see snippets of how excellent he can be as an actor throughout until the final agonizing scenes during and after the ship wreck, the rest of the cast holds up just as well (Scott Wolf, Balthazar Getty, Ethan Embry, a really good Jeremy Sisto in an unpredictable 'rich kid' role, and John Savage as the older 'intellectual' type).

It goes without saying sometimes White Squall does run into some hokey or just some territory that is almost put in as an intentional INSPIRATION scene (in caps), like when the boys are at the remote island and run around up the hill to sign that buried book. Yet it's not what doesn't work but what does that makes the film impressive, and it holds up extremely well against its counterparts that don't have a keen eye for the facts in the story as well as making the characters not simply cardboard cut-outs. It's pretty conventional, but in the finest way imaginable, and has a pretty amazing climax out at sea with the title event (maybe not Perfect Storm but without computers all the more impressive).

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Over-acted, heavy-handed, two-dimensional

Author: pauljasonjones from London, England
9 January 2002

We all know that Ridley Scott's standard visual signature is of fabric caught in the wind and so this film must be his ultimate dream. It is set on board a sailing ship and we are treated to many shots of the wind filling the ship's sails. Sadly, like the sails, the film as a whole is rather over-blown. The plot revolves around a dozen or so spoilt little rich brats spending a summer on a sailing ship under the tutelage of martinet Jeff Bridges, whose job is seemingly to make them confront their fears and emotional turmoils. And by god, they have emotional turmoils aplenty. Each teenaged boy has an easily identifiable trauma to deal with: one kid wets himself (literally!) at the thought of heights, one has dyslexia and is thus at war with everyone, one hates his father etc etc. The central brat is a budding writer and he is the 15 year old who, towards the end of the film, claims that "I still don't know who I am..." But then who does at 15?

All the troubled lads - some of them virtually certifiable - spend lots of time losing their tempers, fighting with each other and then, once they realise how unreasonably they have behaved, they immediately burst into cathartic tears, hug everyone in sight and are one step closer to spiritual enlightenment and manhood. For me this is the film's downfall.

White Squall is based on a true story. Jeff Bridges plays the ship's skipper who, during the Sixties, took a boat-load of teenaged lads on a summer's voyage around the Caribbean, only to have the ship sink in the eponymous storm, with the loss of life. The potential is there for a great action film with plenty to say about responsiblity and personal growth but sadly Ridley Scott over-inflates the human interaction to Jerry Springer-sized proportions.

At least Jeff Bridges is reliable as always. He must be one of the most underrated yet outstanding actors there is. At least, I thought, Jeff won't start blubbing at the drop of a hat. Sadly, in the final scene (and watch out for it, the bell ringing is pure ham!), he succumbs to the director's dictates and has a group-sob with the surviving members of the lachrymous brats. D'oh!

Plus points are Jeff Bridges, the ship and the photography. Minus points are the rest of the actors and the script. Still, worse things have happened at sea...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Another Jeff Bridges movie

Author: mick987g from United States
18 May 2003

I had never heard too much about this movie. I wasn't sure if I should watch it. But based on Jeff Bridges being in it I decided to take a look

This DVD was about unruly boys becoming men and standing together through thick and thin. And how they came to face the turbulent 60's

Bridges role as Captain Christopher 'Skipper' Sheldon made me remember that he is one of our premier actors today If you like adventures on the high seas films you will like this one

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's hard to create a compelling character story with such badly written characters

Author: Terrell Howell (KnightsofNi11) from United States
18 March 2011

What happens when you throw together too many uninteresting characters and try to make something way more dramatic than it needs to be. You get Ridley Scott's White Squall. This film is based on a true story from 1960 when a group of schoolboys took to the open seas to learn about discipline and becoming a man. The ship is called the Albatross and the captain is the hard boiled Christopher Sheldon, played by Jeff Bridges. The boys learn about what it takes to become a man and the self discipline needed to be an honorable and respected individual. But it is a tragic storm that teaches them some difficult lessons about life and death.

This film is, for the most part, a character driven story. This is a real problem when you could care less about any of the characters. Character with daddy issues. Check. Macho man who can't read or write. Check. Highly intelligent character that, despite all his book smarts, still has a lot to learn. Check. One dimensional narrator. Check. The list goes on, but my point is that this film has all the necessary stereotypes for your most typical coming of age story. Thus this film permits nothing new or interesting. Another problem could be that there are just too many characters. The film tries to develop all of the boys and they are subsequently underdeveloped. You don't have enough time or information to develop a connection with any one character and so everything that happens with these boys is incredibly uninteresting. There is also a very flat dynamic between characters. They are all pretty white boys that come from upper class American families making the characters devoid of any kind of diversity.

The biggest issue here is that the film truly believes it possesses everything I just said it didn't have. It tries so hard to be a gripping drama but its character development completely missed the mark, making all of these "dramatic" scenes silly and moronic. I could care less about one boys success at learning how to read and write from the help of two other boys because his character is obnoxious, underdeveloped, and flat. Yet the film tries so hard to elicit an emotional response here that I want to ignore it even further.

Aesthetically this film is a different story. Ridley Scott is in no way a bad director, it just seems like he had a serious string of duds post Blade Runner. He makes the most out of White Squall with an epic scale ocean scope. The climactic scene of the film is the terrible storm that hits the Albatross and Scott shoots this scene magnificently. He manages to make this the only truly dramatic moment of the film and the scene manages to be as riveting as is possible for such a lackluster film. In a way this makes the film more of a disappointment. If I had cared more about the film before the epic storm scene, this scene would have been more powerful than it already was. It really makes me wish more effort had been put into the first two thirds of the film because the last third, even after the storm scene, is pretty decent. The film also concludes very well, making the film a would be satisfying experience.

White Squall is an overall mediocre cinematic experience. Not nearly enough effort was put into developing the array of characters who were the most important focus of this film. Ridley Scott directs as well as he can for such a poor script, but it doesn't save White Squall from being a major disappointment.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I liked the movie a lot

Author: toshev from Bulgaria
9 January 2006

Probably, many will say that movie was nothing special, as I already read such comments, but in my opinion the movie was great. As I am a sensitive person, I was very touched by the final scenes, probably if I were younger, I would let my tears free. I was really deeply touched by the death of Gil Martin, as I sympathized him most, not only because I liked his play most, but also because I like the actor himself a lot - Ryan Phillippe. I felt very miserable to find that exactly my favorite actor and character in the movie was the one to drawn in the storm. I wish someone else to drawn instead of him, or a happy end of the movie, but unfortunately nobody asked for my opinion. Nevertheless I liked the movie a lot and that is why I voted 10 for it.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Solid, entertaining movie up until the very end

Author: ( from Morris Plains, NJ
17 July 2002

I've seen this movie sans the ending about a dozen times, and just recently caught the final 25 minutes. I really enjoy this movie: the build-up of characters and plot from the beginning up to the intense storm that wreaked havoc for the boat and its members on-board was moving and believable. There's nothing you can do but have sympathy for the skipper, played extremely well by Jeff Bridges (by the way, if you like him in this one, you'll love him in 'The Big Lebowski'). He's a fair, friendly but stern man who teaches his crew of spoiled teenage brats discipline and responsibility on a demanding voyage through the Caribbean. Jeff Bridges' character loses not only members of his crew but also his wife in the storm and shows convincing emotion to it all. The boys are shaped into respectable young men by the situations they face together and lessons they learn while on and off the boat. Even the son of an aristocrat who is kicked off for killing a dolphin comes around in the end court room scene to show his loyalty. But it's this final scene that leaves me disappointed. I've been entertained with the movie every time I've seen it up until the ending. The parents who lost their sons out at sea look for answers and point blame at the skipper in this final scene. It is filled with melodrama and overacting, particularly by the lead boy in the film, Scott Wolf. He plays a fifteen year old who has gone through a traumatic experience and is there along with the rest of the surviving crew to show support to their skipper and some even to testify. He gives a monologue to the entire court room about how accidents do occur, the skipper is not at fault, and that everyone aboard the ship made a pact of unity, blah blah blah, real sappy stuff that continues for about 5 minutes. And it all ends with a great big group hug with Jeff Bridges in the center with tears streaming down his face. All this melodramatic nonsense bothered me, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the end of the movie take a turn with more development in the plot. After never having seen anything past the ship wreck, I wasn't expecting to see the skipper on trial to save his boating license. I kind of just guessed a sad and emotional ending soon after the White Squall hit and destroyed everything. But after being rescued and brought back home, the excitement picked up again and a new issue emerged. It was nice to see some story going on off the boat, but I would of rather watched pirates of the Caribbean come through and show no mercy, at least then we would of seen really what these little snobs were made of.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good! Embrace the style and enjoy this gem of a 'sleeper'!

Author: nz man from New Zealand
18 May 2002

For at least 3 years I picked up this film at our local video store - and passed it up, groaning to myself that I was not interested in seeing a family style flick about a group of adolescents. Getting desperate to find a video one evening, I decided to take a chance. My wife and I really did enjoy this movie! Good solid acting, acceptable script, and an interesting story that happens to be true. If you are so addicted to the usual action or sex film, then maybe you will not like this film. But if you can appreciate good wholesome qualities, then this flick should be tried. The suspense is quite good - better than I expected, and the special effects are excellent.

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