|Available at Amazon.com|
The world that is underneath and all around us has long intrigued me. Every ounce of water in the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and ponds has millions of years of history in it along with so much information we just don’t know anything about yet. For as much that goes on above the water and on land, there is one hundred thousand times more happening in the deep blue and blackest depths of the oceans. One of the most beautiful of all the creatures living in the water also happens to be one of the most deadly: sharks. Rob Stewart has made it a point to treat them with the utmost respect and wants to teach the world to not only fear them, but honor them as well.
Rob Stewart is a photojournalist who has long loved sharks and everything that encompasses them. His point in Sharkwater is to teach the world and its people that sharks needed to be treated with as much respect and admiration as lions, tigers, and other hunters around the world. They don’t just jump right into something and attack whatever they see in front of them in the water. They slink around and plot their methods before going after their prey. All the sharks are doing is trying to survive in the wild seas that are their savannahs. Stewart makes it a point to admit that sharks can be dangerous, but they aren’t the monsters that films and television shows make them out to be. The Jaws franchise and other similar films turn them out to be monsters of mythological proportions yet they are like any other hunter in the wilderness.
Besides trying to make people not so afraid of them, Stewart sets out to get rid of shark poaching. So many people hunt sharks for shark fin soup and other delicacies when they don’t even need them. That is one of the more amazing facts you’ll find out in this documentary and it’s that shark fin soup actually has nothing to do with the shark fins. Many poachers know the great amount of money that can come from harvesting shark fins, so Stewart and his crew even get hands on with a sea animal safety project and attempt to stop them first hand. This leads to a very volatile confrontation with a Guatemalan fisherman that becomes very dangerous and if it weren’t for Stewart receiving a nasty infection in his leg, could have proved fatal.
Rob Stewart seems to be a free-loving spirit that generally wants to protect an animal which he loves very much and would hate to see it one day end up on the endangered species list. More so, he just wants to protect them all from being needlessly killed for their fins or just for sport. He feels very comfortable around the sharks and shows that in many ways by getting very close to them in order to prove his points and even swimming among big frenzies of them.
Sharks truly are beautiful creatures and I myself have admired them since my days as a young boy. Films like Deep Blue Sea and Jaws are entertaining, but in no way do they lead me to believe that is what all sharks are like. They obviously can be quite graceful and even mesmerizing when you stop and watch them or are lucky enough to be able to swim with them. I’ve swum before with smaller non-dangerous sharks that were up to three or four feet and that was a breathtaking experience. Being able to swim amongst the big boys and see them up close…well, that would just be a dream come true. Stewart has their best interest at heart even though he may sometimes appear to be pushing his ideas upon others and forcing them to listen to him, but it’s not done in a malicious way at all. He just wants to keep another of God’s beautiful creatures safe from harm, and I applaud him for that.
The film is shown in 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it is absolutely beautiful. You just will be in awe at some of the gorgeous underwater shots you’ll see of some of the most unique creatures of this Earth. The blues are bright and some darker scenes in deeper waters show up great as well.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it sounds just fine. It is mostly dialogue with the interviews and almost constant narration which can be heard clearly at all times.
Beneath The Surface – This is really a very basic “making of” featurette that clocks in at right around sixteen minutes. There is talk about the long days of shooting, any complications coming with being in the water with the animals, and even how it was trying to market the documentary to various studios and promoters.
Shark Defense – Included in the documentary is a small clip of an old Air Force training video teaching them how to get away from sharks and other dangers in the water. This feature is the full eleven minute training video in its entirety.
Sharkwater isn’t a perfect documentary by a long shot with some very robotic sounding narration and a few dull moments, but it still is worth watching for anyone. It isn’t often that we get films showcasing sharks as they truly are instead of portraying them as blood-thirsty man killers so this is a nice change. A lot of the footage is spectacular and makes me really wish I had the guts or money to do the things that Rob Stewart does day in and day out. Someday though I’m hoping I’ll be able to get into crystal clear water and swim safely with some of the world’s most beautiful creatures that have had my admiration since I was a child. The special features only add up to about half an hour of extra footage, but they are still fun to watch. Sharkwater is a documentary that I’ll recommend to anyone and everyone who has ever had an interest in sea life and is tired of watching sharks tear people limb from limb. It’s also refreshing not seeing the hot as hell sands of the desert or trees of the rain forest and checking out that research can be done while also being cool.
Warner Bros. presents Sharkwater. Directed by: Rob Stewart. Starring: Rob Stewart, Patrick Moore, Erich Ritter, Paul Watson, Boris Worm. Written by: Rob Stewart. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: April 8, 2008. Available at Amazon.com