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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...  View more >

Starring Kim Ashdown, Ken Balcomb, Samantha Berg...  View more >

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Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Feb 24, 2014
Thanks to the marketing people at SeaWorld, the image that many people have of Orcas is of docile, playful sea animals that delight in splashing audiences and carrying around their trainers doing tricks in the company's auditoriums. Unfortunately, these animals aren't any more suitable as family pets as a mountain lion or grizzly bear, and they can be unpredictable at best and dangerous at worst.

This documentary explores the events leading up to the tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 when the orca Tilikum dragged her into the water and killed her. It documents not only Brancheau's death, but also the deaths of two other people connected to Tilikum. It makes a case for why Tilikum might have done what he did, even though in the wild, no orca is known to have killed a human. Tracing his origins back to being captured near Iceland at the age of 2, held in a very small pen in Canada, and then transferred to SeaWorld in Orlando, which is where Brancheau was killed.

In an unprecedented situation, where any other performing animal would have been killed after causing the death of one person, much less three, Tilikum is performing to this day at SeaWorld Orlando.

This isn't a movie for small children. It describes the attacks in detail, and even shows video footage of them. It doesn't pull any punches, and with interviews of former SeaWorld trainers to back them up, the filmmakers make a very good case of why it's wrong to keep these majestic animals caged and put on display like circus animals.

After you've watched this documentary, any desire to visit SeaWorld and see the "Shamu" show will have completely left you. I would love to see an orca up close, but I'd much rather go to where they are free and in the wild, and see them in their natural environment, and not in the equivalent of a three-ring circus.

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