Case Number 14395: Small Claims Court


Image Entertainment // 2008 // 377 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // August 28th, 2008

The Charge

Live every week like its Shark Week...

The Case

For more than two decades the Discovery Channel has held an annual week-long focus on that most-feared of sea creatures: the shark. Hosted in 2008 by "Survivorman" Les Stroud, Shark Week: Ocean of Fear features examinations of sharks and their habits.

Discovery Channel has assembled all six episodes of the 2008 series onto a two-disk set. The shows include:

Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever
A true-story recounting of the USS Indianapolis in World War Two, when hundreds of men were plunged into the Philippine sea and left to the mercy of the local shark population. The show combines dramatic recreations with survivor testimonies in an attempt to determine why the attack happened and how many men still managed to survive the experience.

Perfect Predators
How did sharks managed to get to the top of their food chain? Was it evolution or just chance? By studying several species of sharks, their environments and their food, researchers attempt to learn what has made this animal the "perfect killing machine."

Shark Tribe
In Papa New Guinea there exists a tribe of people who have hunted sharks for hundreds of years using traditional methods. How do these people manage to survive capturing sharks with just their bare hands and wooden canoes? Rogue Nature host Dave Salmoni and shark scientist Ryan Johnson journey to the wild shores of the island to unlock the secrets of these famed "shark whisperers" and try their hand at the same methods.

Top Five Eaten Alive
Getting eaten alive by a shark sucks, and this episode shows you why. Through dramatic recreations viewers witness five of the most amazing survivor stories and learn what they can do if ever attacked themselves.

Shark Feeding Frenzy
Are shark attacks on humans intentional, or simply mistakes? Survivorman host Les Stroud goes underwater with swarms of sharks to investigate what they will and won't eat, and why.

Michael Rutzen is on an unbelievable quest: to hypnotize a great white shark into becoming a docile playmate. Convinced there is a gentle side to these ferocious predators, Rutzen must seek out and identify a potential shark and then manipulate it into a sleepy state known as "tonic." Will he succeed, or will he be throwing left-handed for the remainder of his life?

What surprised me most about watching Shark Week: Ocean of Fear is how little I actually learned about sharks. There is plenty of blood and gore on display, and lots of shots of sharks biting and chomping things, but if you are looking for a detailed biology of the species you're going to be disappointed. I watched all six episodes of this series and learned very little about shark procreation, life cycles, or general habits. Instead, we get many of the same facts (they are attracted to motion, they can smell their prey, they bite) repeated ad naseum, making much of the material repetitive.

Two of the episodes, Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever and Top Five Eaten Alive make heavy use of recreations and suffer for it. Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever has access to survivors of the USS Indianapolis, but too often relegates them to the sidelines. Why would we want to see actors recounting the experience when we have the actual men who lived through the experience? Top Five Eaten Alive, in turn, throws so much red dye into its re-enactments of shark attacks that it ends up almost comical. There is something a little grotesque about people's suffering being turned into breathless, bloody entertainment, and this segment often crosses that line.

There are some decent episodes in Shark Week: Ocean of Fear, however. Sharkman concentrates less on the "man eating" shtick to take a gentler approach to the creatures, and Shark Tribe reveals some interesting facts about a culture many of us have never heard of. The danger element is never entirely subdued in these segments, but the fear-mongering is lessened enough at times so that we can concentrate on something else besides the blood and gore.

The episodes featured on Shark Week: Ocean of Fear are straight dumps from the original broadcast, but they are very good in terms of quality. The image suffers from no apparent defects and beautifully captures the underwater realm of these creatures. The 2-channel Dolby audio is well-balanced between dialogue, sound effects, and music. Unfortunately, there are no sub-titles and no extras included in the release.

It's a shame that Shark Week: Ocean of Fear couldn't take a more balanced and informative position towards it's subject, but I guess the Discovery Channel knows what people want when it comes to this event. If you are looking for sharks doing the things that sharks are famous for, then Shark Week: Ocean of Fear will more than satisfy.

Shark Week: Ocean of Fear is chastised for its lack of special features, but released back into the sea for delivering what fans want.

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2008 Ian Visser; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 377 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Official Site