Blackfish movie poster
Blackfish movie poster
[Documentary Cinema]

Blackfish movie review

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Running time: 90 minutes
Producer: Manuel Oteyza
Cast: Kim Ashdown, Samantha Berg, Carol Ray, Dean Gomersall, More
Screenplay: Eli B. Despres, Gabriela Cowperthwaite

review by Bob Yunger

Printing this review will most likely guarantee that Sea World will never advertise here, dear readers. But that’s OK.

God, what an awful movie. Just awful in its awfulness. It’s like a snuff film without the climax. Although you know what’s coming and never see it, by the end of the movie you felt like you’ve watched the death of the whale handlers over and over again through the taped reactions of the people around them. Then there’s the animals themselves.

The conditions they’re forced to exist in are worse than most prisons. Performing for kids and tourists from the Midwest, you’d think they’d go berserk every day and just begin chomping heads off instead of giving out foul-smelling kisses.

It’s so un-normal. The habitat they evolved in affords them unlimited expanse to roam and swim in a straight line if they want to, not circle around a shallow swimming pool and then be penned up at night in a 30-foot cage. The word psychosis was used many times in this movie.

It should have been included in the title, as maybe Psycho Blackfish. I will in no way go so far as to say that the female trainer who died in Orlando deserved what happened to her, but she couldn’t have believed the whale she commanded over was a happy camper.

And I am certain she enjoyed the crowd’s attention in every show.

The autopsy report is online (at, but it reads in part as follows: “40 year-old white female, animal trainer, attacked by a killer whale (Orcinus orca) at work…” Then there’s several paragraphs of detailed descriptions of an athletic woman who died of blunt force trauma and massive lacerations to her head, neck, torso and limbs. Also included was the removal of her scalp and dismemberment of her left arm (“complete avulsion of the upper-left extremity…”) with, “Evidence of drowning”.

The autopsy ends by saying that, in the opinion of the filer of the report, the subject died as the result of an accident.

Shamu might disagree.

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