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Case Number 18846

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Expedition Great White

National Geographic // 2010 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // May 6th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Daniel Carlton prefers to hunt The Great Gazoo.

The Charge

Fish out of water!

Opening Statement

If you enjoy shark documentaries, this is a must see. They're gonna need a bigger boat.

Facts of the Case

Off the coast of Baja California, a team of crewmen and scientists set out on an expedition to apply a new type of tracking device to great white sharks. They are able to catch and release two great whites using a boat specially outfitted with a cradle capable of lifting massive amounts of weight from the water. The window for applying the tag and getting DNA samples is short and the crew can't waste a moment of time if the sharks are to be returned to the water unharmed.

The Evidence

"I don't care what kind of fishing you've ever done. There's no kind of fishing like this."

These words were spoken by expedition leader Chris Fischer and he couldn't be more spot on. For decades, scientists have caught and released all sorts of animals, but never before the great white shark. For such an immense task, immense tools are needed and the crew of Expedition Great White sets out on the MV Ocean, a specialized boat with a platform that can be lowered and raised from the water at any time. The process involves a number of precise steps. The crew hooks a shark and tires it out using a number of buoys. After the fighting has ceased, the shark is led into the cradle, which then rises out of the water. Like a finely tuned pit crew, the workers jump into action, taking precautions to not harm the shark. Tracking devices are applied and various samples are taken from every shark. The electronic tags are mounted to the dorsal fin, allowing for each shark to be tracked via satellite. The cradle is lowered back into the water and the fish is released. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it isn't.

Expedition Great White is a one of a kind in the genre of shark documentaries. I hate to be completely cliché and reference Jaws, but there are scenes on this DVD that are totally reminiscent of that film. We see buoys racing through the water followed by a hooked shark going under a boat. We even see a great white fully exposed on a boat thrashing its tail with people only inches away. The footage we view is more than educational, it is downright adventurous. The only thing missing is Quint. These guys are wrestling with SUV-sized animals and lives are at stake. All of this is to gain further knowledge of the behaviors of this mysterious breed of fish. Plus, it makes for damn fine television.

As expected from National Geographic, the picture on Expedition Great White is flawless, the direction and cinematography are gripping and we get a sense first hand of how dangerous this assignment really is. As with any good documentary, the filmmakers and subjects don't know what will happen next and the tension is high as we watch workers pull in a line by hand, knowing that a great white is attached on the other end. At any moment the line can zip away, and sometimes it does.

As for extras, the only addition is another program called Mystery Shark with Brady Barr. This documentary focuses on the study of the sixgill shark, which lives at depths of up to 1700 feet below sea level. While the footage is excellent, Barr is a complete spaz and brings Quentin Tarantino's speech patterns to mind. Like Tarantino, Barr is genuinely excited, but his vocal inflections were somewhat annoying. If you purchase Expedition Great White at the $24.99 asking price, you might be disappointed in the bang-for-your-buck department with such little added content. If you score this DVD at a considerably cheaper price or as a rental, it is well worth the 45 minute running time.

Closing Statement

Expedition Great White is a superb documentary, but unfortunately offers little on extras. It is worth a viewing for sure, but it does come with a hefty tag.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 80
Extras: 60
Story: 80
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: National Geographic
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Program

Accomplices

• IMDb








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