Friday, March 23, 2007

Movie- Sharkwater

Last night the hubby and I were going to see Zodiac, but then I ran into our friend Rob at the SUB and he suggested that we all go to see Reign Over Me, the new Adam Sandler movie. (Note: I hate Adam Sandler's comedies, but I love his serious movies. Spanglish and Punch-Drunk Love are both great). However, when the time came, Jen, Charles and Keltie wanted to see Sharkwater instead, and I'm glad that we did.

From the previews, Sharkwater looks pretty but depressing. Sharks being killed, Guatemalans shooting at conservation boats, the Taiwanese mafia taking control of Costa Rica- all a little scary. But it really isn't: Sharkwater is like Finding Nemo with a conscience.

Rob Stewart, the underwater photographer who wrote, directed, and filmed the movie is originally from Toronto (yea Toronto!). Although he has taken on a lot of big roles, he fulfils most of them well, and he does a gorgeous job on the visuals. The cinematography is phenomenal, and without it, the movie frankly would totally have fallen flat. While I agree that sharks are being mercilessly killed, I would like it to stop, and I think that Stewart has a good point and did a good job of getting our attention, the movie does have some serious flaws.

For one, he uses racial tactics to make the audience sympathize with his side of the cause; the main proponent of shark fishing that he shows in the movie is a Chinese man with a strong accent and little vocabulary, and Stewart makes sure that the audience thinks he's funny for those reasons. Yes, shark fishing as it currently stands is cruel and wrong, but he should have chosen a worthier opponent to argue that against. As well, he does little to address the economic issues that make shark fishing so popular (such as the fact that penniless fishermen can make a good living doing it), or to show responsible activism (the activists whom he works with are renegade vigilantes, essentially). As well, there's this whole section about Stewart in the hospital that's self-indulgent and unnecessary.

Putting aside all of its drawbacks, Sharkwater remains a good movie. It is spectacularly gorgeous (I probably said "wow" about eighty times while watching it), it does make you see sharks in a better light than general perception puts them in, and it makes you care about their plight. I found some of the scenes of shark finning disturbing, but I think they were necessary to show how despicable the industry is. Some scenes make up for the violence, though; I particularly enjoyed the part where Stewart holds and pets sharks like puppies. (Yes, it cheesy and overdone, but they really were lovely, and it was a neat effect). My recommendation is that Sharkwater is a movie worth checking out.