Sharkwater (2006)

An environmental wakeup call is the focus of this engaging, though fatally flawed documentary about the decimation of the world’s shark population. Toronto-based supermodel/biologist Rob Stewart spent 5 years cobbling together this film in an effort to expose the tragedy of a species being hunted out of existence to satisfy our apparent need for shark fin soup.

First a comment about the film. It sucks. Stewart is obviously committed to the cause and he’s certainly earnest enough but his Dudley-Doright-in-a-Speedo schtick gets in the way of the film’s intent. If you can picture Michael Moore’s more intrusive doc moments dovetailed with an episode of Baywatch, you begin to get the picture. As with almost all documentaries, the less we see of the filmmaker, the better. Can anyone picture Ken Burns or Errol Morris? No. I could run over either of them on Roncey and wouldn’t know who the hell was screaming under the Saab. Getting in the way of the camera, gets in the way of the story is the lesson here.

More importantly and with all due respect to someone who is trying to make a difference, Sharkwater remains a stunning eye-opener. We humans, in the space of less than twenty years, have virtually wiped out the oldest surviving unchanged creature on earth so we can have….. soup. Think about that for a second. Sharks have lived on this planet for 400 million years and we have reduced their numbers by 90% in less than 2 decades. They’ve survived 5 major extinctions, are twice as old as the earliest dinosaurs and rarely (actually almost never) eat us. If they were smarter, they’d eat every single human that stuck so much as a baby toe in the ocean. Our kind can’t regulate itself so bring on the plague Mother Nature, and be damn quick about it. If we are capable of causing the genocide of an entire species by cutting off their fins so we can have a bowl of fucking soup, then our time here is done. We’ve gotta stop this.

Ignore the Tom Cruise: Marine Biologist elements of Sharkwater and you’re in for a startling and harrowing look at the sick underbelly of a billion dollar black market industry. I’m thinking we should donate all of the revenue from our rentals to one of these foundations. I’d like some input here.


1 comment:

the coelacanth said...

great review! no sarcasm here - i've wanted to see this one for awhile now (and judging by the customer requests for it, so has almost everyone else that rents at the film buff). scary stuff indeed, and certainly a subject that merits a doc, but too bad about the the documentarian. i haven't watched this yet, but will be rushing out to do so now. thanks for the heads up.
p.s. - interestingly, another piscine variety that is nearly as old as sharks is the coelacanth, aka "the living fossil".