Plot: What’s it about?
We don’t often hear about sharks at all, unless someone is attacked by one. The sharks have become a symbol of ocean fear, vicious creatures who thirst for human blood and attack with cause or care. In Sharkwater, biologist Rob Stewart shows us the real nature of sharks, which happens to be quite different than the commonly held opinions. Stewart also shines a bright light on how the sharks have been hunted to near extinction, with about ninety percent of the world’s shark population killed. Stewart isn’t just talking about sharks either, he and his crew take to the waters to protect the sharks, even if it means risking their own lives. The group runs into government officials, gunboats, pirates, and even organized crime, all of whom have a financial interest in the sharks. Is it too late for the sharks, or can this misunderstood species be saved?
I’m a big fan of Shark Week, so I figured a documentary on the plight of the world’s shark population would be well worth a look. As it turns out, while Sharkwater does provide some good insight into how the sharks have been decimated and what we can do to turn things around, the movie also turns into a vanity piece at times. Rob Stewart obviously has passion for the sharks and has done a lot to lend a hand, but he seems to want to put himself on camera as much as possible. I would have preferred more focus on the sharks, as opposed to so much footage and time devoted to Stewart himself. Even so, Sharkwater has a message we need to hear and doesn’t pull any punches about how serious the issue is. So if you’re interested in this topic, Sharkwater is worth a look, even if it does wander off the path here and there.
Video: How does it look?
Sharkwater is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The various sources employed here ensure an inconsistent visual presentation. Some elements are beautiful, razor sharp and loaded with incredible detail. These are the kind of visuals I wanted to see, with lush colors and remarkable depth. But other scenes look soft and even poor, so dependent on what the source was, this transfer has its ups and downs. The nature of the film should allow some leeway of course, since this is a documentary and not a polished feature film.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not all documentaries have memorable soundtracks, but this Dolby Digital 5.1 option is better than expected. The ocean environments come to life here, with presence that really makes you feel like you’re there. The surrounds aren’t overloaded, but there is a good deal of activity, especially by documentary standards. The music also sounds great, full of life and with an expansive sound stage here. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, so no vocal issues arise. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, French language tracks, and subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
his disc includes a brief behind the scenes featurette, a shark defense training video, a loop of underwater visuals, some television spots, and the film’s theatrical trailer.