Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Kevin Bacon is the Only Light in this Film
on November 22, 2011
First off, this movie was made in 1987, not 1991. I am not sure if that's supposed to be the year it came out for rental or what but wanted to make that clear.
White Water Summer has beautiful scenery and some minor exciting moments but when you get down to it it's a low-grade Lord of the Flies and not nearly as interesting.
Kevin Bacon who is his best when playing bad plays Vick, a sadist with a creepy appetite for torturing the young campers he's been put in charge of. He especially loves to torment Allen (Sean Astin) because he feels Allen needs to learn the hard way how to become a man. Throughout the film, they raft, talk, sing, eat, camp and Allen is thrown into life-threatening predicaments and Vick seems to get off on that. The first sign that Vick is unstable is when the group has to cross a rickety bridge that's sky-high in the air. Allen is afraid to climb so Vick takes the group and leaves him there until he whimpers across. When Allen gets back to the camp, he realizes he's left the tent poles on the other side of the bridge. Terrified, he follows Vick's orders to get the poles but freezes on the bridge. When Allen returns, he lies and says he couldn't find the poles and Vick throws them on the ground. The next morning and enraged Vick tells Allen he watched him chicken out on the bridge. (That's right, watched and didn't help).
So that's the first red sign we see that Vick is off. After that he leaves Allen hanging on a cliff as well as across the creek in the rain until he cleans fish. Allen refuses so he stays all night alone in the rain.
The movie was like watching a ping-pong match. It was back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. They did the same things over and over. Vick would terrorize Allen and the gang would sit back and let it happen. Finally Allen shows he has the real guts by the end of the film.
Kevin Bacon was fantastic and Sean Astin was good but the plot didn't work. We should've seen more of a reason why Vick was so screwed up or why he picked on Allen. His character could be better understood. At the end Allen stays with Vick after he breaks his leg and even gets him across the river alone. The two talk a bit and this would've been the perfect opportunity for Allen and the audience to find out why Vick treated him the way he did but they didn't go into it. So the fact that Vick's behavior happened without any reason didn't work. I wanted to know why this man was so screwed up and if so, why is he taking kids camping in the first place?
Sean was realistic as Allen. The rest of the boys (who are obviously just there to be someone to fight for Allen) were forgettable. They weren't even significant enough to remember their names. I think the movie would've been edgier if maybe Allen was stuck with Vick alone and had to climb himself outta the mountains with a crazed Vick refusing to let him go. But...didn't work out that way.
This movie isn't terrible but it surely isn't anything you have to see. I'd put it in the, check-it-out-when-it-comes-on-cable-one-night category. It's nothing you should make an effort to watch just something to catch (if you want) when it's on. Despite all the fantastic scenery this movie was boring and very slow-paced. It was like two hours of nothing. I got the feeling the filmmakers were showcasing the scenery more than the movie and expecting that to make up for all the low points. I didn't know if I was watching a movie or NatGeo special at one point. No one did anything until almost the end of the film. I'd say skip everything that happened before the bridge because it's insignificant.
Also having Astin talk to the camera was stupid and a bad attempt at trying to put in some comic relief in such a disturbing film.
Unless you're a Kevin Bacon fan, skip this. Check out River Wild if you just wanna see Kevin playing a bad dude on the river. This movie is unpopular for a reason and I can't see why it was made.