Blackfish ★★½

This was not the story I expected it to be. With all of the controversy surrounding SeaWorld and its large mammal inmates, I expected this film to be about mistreatment of animals, and an entirely different type of fragility.

I enjoyed the film for its revelations and insight into the world of animal training, especially in a realm I know absolutely nothing about. But halfway through the film, it's clear that the filmmakers are banging one note and aren't interested in hitting another. There's a great deal of interview footage and some archival footage, but that balance is skewed - there's an awful lot of hearsay, and absolutely zero representation from the other side, save for one or two PR clips. All of this adds up to make for a rather - excuse the pun - murky message.

It was fascinating to learn how these majestic creatures are captured, kept, and trained. And it's more fascinating to learn about the relationships that develop - both between orcas themselves and orcas and their trainers. But the core message of the film is repeated again and again, albeit substituted with different wording, to the point that it feels like a broken record.

A closing "epilogue" shot feels tacked on (and very similar to Michael Moore's style of closing) and does not hit the emotional tone it intends to.

Overall, this could have been a much more impactful film. That doesn't mean it doesn't have impact – there were more than a few cringe-worthy moments as well as some truly depressing scenes - but I'm just not really sure what others have been able to connect with in this film to give it a higher rating.

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