The Great Shark Hunt
MPI Home Video // Unrated // $19.98 // February 22, 2005
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted April 17, 2005
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Graphical Version
The movie

I think you'll all agree with me that The Great Shark Hunt is not exactly the best title for a nature documentary about shark conservation; I suspect it was slapped on the film by a marketing guy who thought something like "Saving the Sharks" would be too boring. OK, it could have been worse (we could have had something along the lines of "Monster Killer Deadly Sharks!!!!" or "Sharks vs. Humans: The Grudge Match") but it does put rather the wrong initial spin on what's really a quite mild-mannered, reasonable documentary.

The Great Shark Hunt opens by dispelling some of the popular myths about sharks as man-eating creatures, and by pointing out how these slow-to-reproduce creatures are being threatened by the human desire to eat them (or use their parts for medicine or other purposes). Particular attention is paid to one of the prime causes of shark endangerment: the market for fins, which are a delicacy in China.

A substantial amount of the film focuses on how researchers are learning about sharks. In addition to seeing divers investigating sharks in their natural habitat, we also find out about a program to encourage commercial fishermen to tag and release sharks so that researchers can follow their migratory movements.

The Great Shark Hunt is a low-key but moderately interesting program, mixing a variety of interviews with scientists and researchers with footage of the sharks and the ongoing research programs. The film keeps its focus on the conservation angle, without branching out into detailed information on the biology or habits of the sharks; while this means that the documentary avoids the area that I'd have found most interesting, it also means that it maintains a nice focus and doesn't wander.

At only 45 minutes, there's not a really substantial amount of content, but what there is, is presented reasonably well. Probably the main strike against the film is that its underwater footage is fairly ordinary-looking, with no really impressive footage of the sharks. It's probably a program that would work well in a grade-school or high-school class.

The DVD

Video

The Great Shark Hunt is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which I assume is its correct presentation. It has a rather low-budget look, but is watchable; the image is soft and a bit washed-out overall, but there are no serious faults here.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is adequate, presenting the voices of the interview subjects in a reasonably clear manner, although there's some background noise at times. There's a slightly tinny quality to the sound overall, but as with the video, it's passable. English subtitles are included.

Extras

There are no special features. On the bright side, it does have chapters.

Final thoughts

The Great Shark Hunt, despite its sensationalist name, is a reasonably interesting nature documentary about shark conservation. I didn't find the subject extremely gripping, as I would have been more interested in learning more about the sharks themselves, but for a focused program on conservation, it's well handled. At only 45 minutes long with no supplements, it's a bit weak for a purchase if you're just thinking of watching it yourself, but it's probably a reasonable buy for a teacher looking for audio/visual supplements for a science course. Overall, I'll give it a "rent it."



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