Blackfish (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

Blackfish (2013)



Critic Consensus: Blackfish is an aggressive, impassioned documentary that will change the way you look at performance killer whales.

Movie Info

Magnolia Pictures invites you and a guest to attend an advance screening of BLACKFISH, an eye-opening documentary directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000-pound orcas, or "killer whales," soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black-and-white mammal is like a two-faced Janus-beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. BLACKFISH unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who-unlike any orca in the wild-has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong? Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca's extraordinary nature, the species' cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades, and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals. (c) Magnoliamore
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images)
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Tim Zimmermann, Eli Despres, Gabriela Cowperthwaite
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 12, 2013
Box Office: $2.1M
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site

News & Interviews for Blackfish

Critic Reviews for Blackfish

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (30)

A troubling exposé of Sea World's hazardous entertainment trade.

Full Review… | January 1, 2014
Time Out
Top Critic

Blackfish makes an especially strong case for the innate marvel of these animals: that they are smart, social, communicative and loving.

Full Review… | January 1, 2014
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Really great documentaries are like zeitgeist napalm; and Blackfish carries the torch.

Full Review… | March 27, 2015
2UE That Movie Show

For all it's artistic shortcomings, though, I really hope that this movie is able to instigate some kind of change in the way we treat orcas, or at least how we think about them.

Full Review… | April 8, 2014
Movie Mezzanine

Powerful, heartbreaking, disturbing doc about captive orcas.

Full Review… | January 21, 2014
Common Sense Media

Perhaps the documentary form does have the potential to effect sweeping social change. Only time will tell.

Full Review… | January 5, 2014

Audience Reviews for Blackfish

A heart-wrenching, truly saddening documentary which concerns the corrupt practices of SeaWorld, notably how they put the well-being of their trainers on the line in the name of money and profits. This film is geared to get the viewer angry, and it does that by giving many examples of how SeaWorld knew what they were doing was wrong, but still lied about it to cover their own tracks. The death of Dawn Brancheau and how they have the gaul to blame her for her demise instead of the killer whale that viciously murdered her. It is a heavy film, at times threatening to pummel the viewer down into submission, but ultimately is an effective one that will not leave you quickly.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

At the very least, this scathing attack on SeaWorld will question your decision to support this amusement park with a visit. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's research is impeccable. In the account she makes a very powerful case that killer whales should not be kept in captivity at all . That their confinement is to the detriment of both the animal as well as humans involved. The cruel conditions they're kept in is a contributing factor. She lambastes the practice of separating wild whale pups from their mothers. The accompanying footage replete with piercing sounds of a wailing mother is heartbreaking. More than a dozen testimonies from trainers, employees and experts discuss the inner workings of these parks. Many of it from former employees at the actual Sea World park where Tilikum now resides. It's clear that many guides have been misled by SeaWorld officials on the dangers posed by these 5-ton beasts. Blackfish is more than mere entertainment. It's necessary viewing and one of the most important documentaries of the year.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer


Never capture what you can't control.

Great Documentary! Between the gripping footage and the distressing stories Blackfish effectively proves its point. There are very few movies like this; a must-see. This film moves with the fluidity of a wild orca in the ocean. Don't miss out on seeing "Blackfish" because it's going to change the way you think.

Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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