Ten Shark Movies to Binge-Watch During Coronavirus Lockdown
After scouring Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ for movies that divers will love, our lockdown binge-list this week is a mixed bag of ten top shark-themed movies. Some cinematic gems, some popcorn pleasers, and a couple so awful they are essential viewing – but all will fill in the dreary hours of weekend lockdown. Enjoy...
The original and – somewhat unfortunately – the best. It's difficult to give an objective review of the movie that caused a horrendous amount of damage to the shark populations of the world; a fear of sharks that lingers to this day. In fact, Peter Benchley, the author of the novel on which Steven Spielberg's movie was based, on learning of the effect his work had had on shark populations, dedicated the rest of his life to shark conservation.
On the other hand, Jaws is a slick action/thriller/horror movie with an outstanding performance by the sadly departed Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody. The animatronic effects were groundbreaking for the day and, in context, stand up well to the test of time. The concept as we understand shark behaviour 50 years later is most assuredly flawed, but it is a damn fine movie nonetheless. Jaws 2 is also pretty good, Jaws 3D and Jaws 4 – yeah – are not.
47 Metres Down
I reviewed this movie when it was released and called it 47 Metres Dumb, which it is. Suspension of disbelief is okay for a while because otherwise there would be no Star Wars movies with lightsabres and Jedi forces and the Avengers would never have assembled, but when you start blabbing on about real-world things that are physically impossible, it just gets a bit silly. The whole concept is rather implausible and somewhat daft and on a single tank of air at that depth, you'd have much more to worry about than sharks pootling about on the periphery of your narcosis-nobbled field of vision. There's a sequel called 47 Metres Down: Uncaged. I have decided to change the title of that movie to 47 Metres Down: Unwatched.
Deep Blue Sea
Not the best movie ever made but not the worst, either. At least they gave the sharks a reason to be unpleasant, which is that 'scientists' had been tinkering inside the sharks' noggins which would make even the best of us feel somewhat aggrieved. Thrills and gore with a comedic undertone from an ensemble cast with Samuel L Jackson doing what he does best and whose *spoiler alert* grizzly demise *too late* is both unexpected and extremely satisfying. Saturday afternoon popcorn-and-beer entertainment which does not challenge any brain cells. There is a Deep Blue sequel which is not going to be reviewed here because while sometimes it's okay not to challenge the brain cells, patronising them is a completely different story.
The Meg is to sharks what King Kong is to monkeys and Godzilla is to iguanas, although both of those movies were substantially better. It's big, it's daft, it's spectacular and it has a typecast Jason Statham keeping in perfect character as – well – Jason Statham. Not that that's not a bad thing, necessarily. Big and almost believable CGI if you squint your eyes a bit with an unbelievable plot but that's what action movies are all about. Highly entertaining; suspension of disbelief and intellect required; imbibition of alcohol recommended. Popcorn optional.
A reasonably entertaining low-budget Australian film with cinematography that's not too bad, placing the viewer in among the actors and lending a sense of trepidation that other movies do not necessarily achieve, although the 'edgy' camera-shake thing is a bit excessive at times. Even if we're back with the 'vengeful shark stalking humans' motif a lá Jaws, The Reef sort of combines the suspense of Open Water with the added fear factor of a – er – vengeful shark, and gets quite exciting at times, if you can ignore all the silly decisions that the characters make to get themselves into that position in the first place. You end up sort of sympathising with the losers characters and it's definitely more Saturday night than Saturday afternoon.
This featured in our Amazon Prime binge list and is really not a terrible movie. The shark footage is probably the best that has ever been cut into a movie rather than a documentary, and probably the only shark-based-thriller that portrays the great white shark in a realistic and sympathetic manner. The premise – that a rich fellow wants the down-and-out 'shark whisperer' portrayed by Halle Berry to take him diving with great whites outside the cage – is not so far fetched as there are people out there who really want to do that, but it's also played to an audience that would assume (based on Jaws) that doing so would automatically mean death by gory dismemberment. Sadly, while the shark's natural behaviour is well depicted, the actors manage to portray natural human behaviour as wooden and stilted with unrealistic dialogue. Worth a watch for the sharks.
It's daft. It's supposed to be. It's like a B-movie of B-movies Maybe even a D- or an E-movie. There is no acting per se, just people running around making noises on film. The special effects are not especially special, but they are spectacular. If The Meg required a little booze to get through, Sharknado is best served on ice, shaken not stirred, five parts vodka with a splash of lemonade if you really have to. For all of the doubters, there are now six movies in the Sharknado series, and as Rian Johnson discovered – sadly one movie too late – you don't get to make six lemons if your first one's a dud. It's supposed to be stupid, but sometimes that's fun.
What if you got attacked by a shark and ended up stranded on a rock, just a few hundred metres from shore, while the 'killer' circled? It's a movie and so, therefore, the premise is very much contrived but not entirely ridiculous. The fact that safety is so close while the drama plays out lends a certain thrilling aspect to The Shallows, and although it looks from time to time like the director of CGI handed over the modelling of the shark to unpaid interns, Blake Lively carries the film well, given that it's pretty much all about her, with some other actors making cursory appearances here and there. There are more plot holes than the British road system has potholes but it's still kind of riveting - the sort of movie you'll start with an ice-cold beer and finish with half a can of warm, flat, undrinkable after-party plop.
It's a pleasing cartoon which misrepresents sharks more than Jaws ever did, but it's super-duper fun for all the family, even if you're a single bloke. The Dreamworks animation and production team comes in a far distant second place to the brilliance of Pixar, but it's the sort of movie that will pause your finger if you're flicking through the channels and can't decide what else to watch.
This movie is only included here because the title 'Ten Shark Themed Movies' was written before we'd actually found ten shark-related movies to review and realised we had run out of options at number nine. Some films are enhanced by the suitable application of responsibly served adult beverages. Jurassic Shark requires a destruction of brain cells on a parallel with those unfortunate folk who unwaveringly believe the planet is flat. Only watch if you don't have to pay for it or don't have viable alternatives such as the shopping channel or ancient VHS recordings of Ceefax.