Starring: Tilikum, John Jett, John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, Mark Simmons, Dean Gomersall, Dave Duffus

Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Synopsis: 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.

A controversial and often heartbreaking look at Sea World and it’s Killer Whales, and the inhumane way they are treated. Blackfish is a documentary that really should be watched by everyone, especially those planning their family holiday to Florida soon! The world needs films like this to try and make a difference, unfortunately I’m sure not enough people will see it for that to happen.

The thread running through the movie is the male Orca, Tilikum, who we see, via archive footage, is taken from his parents as a youngster and taken off to the precursor to Sea World, a place called SeaLand or something. The film follows his journey right up to the present day where he resides in semi retirement at Sea World. Which makes it sound kind of nice. Except it isn’t because the reason he is in semi-retirement is because he is responsible for the deaths of three trainers over the years. The sad thing is, it’s because of the treatment he, and the other whales receive, that the deaths occurred.

There is some damning evidence against Sea World in this film, including cover ups and placing the blame on the deceased trainers so that everyone still see’s the sunny side of the park, rather than look into the fact that due to what is effectively animal cruelty, these animals seemed to take out their frustration on their unfortunate human ‘friends’. Perhaps the most damning verdict against Sea World though, is the fact that the documentary is full of ex-trainers who worked there who are now vehemently against it.

Hopefully enough people will see this film, and spread the word and one day these magnificent animals will finally be free.

4.5 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. Glad to hear it’s great, but I don’t think I could take a film like this. Looks too heavy for me..

    • It’s not too bad Davide. It’s quite insightful, but you do obviously feel pretty bad for the animals themselves.

      • Yeah, exactly that’s what I’m afraid of. Like with The Cove, great documentary, but I was so saddened and angered that they could do such things to dolphins. I guess I’ll have to be in the right mood for it..

      • Absolutely. You certainly won’t be booking up to go to Sea World any time soon if you do watch it!

  2. Good review Thomas. Nice to see that almost everybody is speaking out against this documentary, as it is quite powerful and a bit disheartening to watch. However, why it wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award is beyond me.

    • Yeah it’s a travesty. I’m guessing because the Oscars is very political, they probably don’t want any controversy and, I’m sure Sea World maybe chucked them a few dollars to ignore it. At a guess!

  3. An excellent review, Tom. We humans lack awareness far too often.

    • Yeah it’s kind of dad that it all gets sugar coated and we buy into it. I went there on a family holiday back when I was fifteen or so. I don’t feel bad because I had no idea then obviously, but now I’ve seen this I would advise against anyone from going.

  4. Heard a lot of good words about this film, will give it a shot in the nearest future

  5. Your review is spot-on. I watched this documentary and it made me sick to my stomach. Unbelievable. Made me really, really happy I’ve never been to SeaWorld. Though I have been to similar places while traveling, so I’m not completely exonerated.

    • Yeah I went to Sea World with my family back when I was fifteen or so and never thought anything of it. I’m really glad I’ve seen this because I would never take my son, or advise anyone else to go there now.

  6. I’d highly recommend seeing Blackfish. Although this documentary is emotionally driven, it is honest, and eye-opening, even for someone who has followed the histories of captive orcas for years.

    • Glad you liked it. It put out an important message I think. What did you take away from it seeing as you know about Orcas?

      • It broke my heart to actually hear about “the module” from the people who forced Tilly, Nootka, and Haida in there. But growing up learning about the whales from supporters of captivity, I’d only heard the media version of a few things…not what actually happened. Like the man who was drunk and died in Tilikum’s tank. I’d first heard that the man was dismembered and suffered serious injuries, yet a few days later, SeaWorld emphasized that the man died from hypothermia. Back then, I didn’t think too much into it, although I’d always questioned it. Just hearing everything from the alternate point of view solidified my gut reaction it’s had all my life: captivity is not in the animals’ best interest.

        Mostly, I’m disappointed at SeaWorld for lying to their current and former supporters. But I guess that’s business.

  7. V

    Great review. I thought Blackfish was a great documentary. I would have liked Sea World to actually release a statement to the director, or offer something by way of balance, but then again I have the feeling the end result would have been exactly the same. What they’re doing is horrifying and I’m so glad this film was made.

    • Yeah it’s pretty horrifying isn’t it, and something that your average holiday maker should see before they book that itinerary for their Florida trip. I went with my family to Sea World years back when I was like 15, but having seen this I would never take my son.

    • SeaWorld has released a number of statements in regards to the negative media. The information they provided is so inaccurate, it makes me cringe. They are great at talking in circles, though. And their PR person is fantastic at not answering any of the real questions asked of them. He should be a politician! :]

      • Yeah these big corporations just think everyone are stupid don’t they. The sad thing is that most people won’t care or won’t see this movie and will still go to Seaworld

  8. This opened my eyes to something I was previously unaware of. It was disappointing we could not hear Sea Worlds side of the story, but I think we know why they are being so tight lipped. Powerful documentary!

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