Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 33
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 33
  3. Negative: 0 out of 33
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Aug 15, 2013
    Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite creates a fascinating character study of Tilikum, part of a revered species without a single confirmed kill of a human in the wild. Captivity is where Blackfish's evidence continually points the blame for Tilikum's deadly behavior.
  2. Reviewed by: Janice Page
    Jul 31, 2013
    What’s on camera is both damning and expertly assembled, a filmmaking effort worthy of standing with 2009’s Oscar-winning documentary about dolphin abuse, “The Cove.”
  3. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jul 26, 2013
    It’s upsetting and scary to watch the footage of orca attacks collected in Blackfish, a damning documentary about the treatment of the animals by marine parks.
  4. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Jul 25, 2013
    For the most part, Cowperthwaite keeps the preachiness in check, letting the scientists, former SeaWorld trainers and other witnesses tell it as it is. Indeed, the scary training scenes - uniformly gripping - do most of the talking.
  5. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Jul 25, 2013
    Very few of us would like to think about the physical and emotional toll that life in captivity takes on these magnificent creatures. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's powerful, heartbreaking, and beautifully crafted documentary, Blackfish, forces us to do just that.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 21, 2013
    Cowperthwaite builds a portrait of an intelligent but profoundly traumatized animal who was taken from his family in the North Atlantic as an infant, and has been driven to anger, resentment and perhaps psychosis after spending his life in a series of concrete swimming pools.
  7. 100
    It’s true that the number of whales in captivity isn’t huge. But they’ve now become the mightiest symbols of our cultural hubris — of our inability to manage creatures we have the power to capture and imprison. It’s a metaphor for the ages.
  8. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Jul 18, 2013
    Unapologetically designed both to inform and affect, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s delicately lacerating documentary, Blackfish, uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant SeaWorld Entertainment.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 18, 2013
    An extraordinary, must-see examination of what humans do to killer whales so that these amazing creatures can become one more entertainment.
  10. Reviewed by: Kimber Myers
    Jul 16, 2013
    It succeeds not just because of the gripping footage and troubling stories of the spectators and trainers close to the incidents, but also because it consults experts in the field who offer insights into killer whales’ biology and psychology.
  11. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Jul 16, 2013
    The movie is revealing, wrenching, and important, a reminder that what feels wrong in our gut—the effort to turn free-roaming and unknowable beasts into caged vaudevillians—is always worth investigating.
  12. 88
    This is as thorough a take-down of a business and its practices as you’re likely to ever see.
  13. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Jun 4, 2013
    Focusing on the notoriously aggressive orca Tilikum, this gripping film presents a persuasive case against keeping the species – and by extension any wild animal – in captivity for the purposes of human entertainment.
  14. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jun 4, 2013
    The movie makes a strong case against the captivity of killer whales under sub-circus conditions, but the stance is made even more horrifying because so little has changed in the history of the organization. Blackfish is less balanced investigation than full-on takedown of a broken system.
  15. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jun 4, 2013
    Righteous, captivating and entirely successful as single-issue-focused documentaries go, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film draws on startling video footage and testimonies from former orca trainers, building an authoritative argument on behalf of this majestic species.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 84 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. Jul 20, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. excellent documentary exposing the harsh brutality of SeaWorld who ruthlessly abuses Orcas and hides what they are doing to the public. Reveals how SeaWorld negligently exposes naive trainers to fatally dangerous situations in which several young trainers have lost their lives. Full Review »
  2. Jan 4, 2014
    An effective piece of filmmaking. I now want to do something to help these beautiful giants. There's so much disturbing evidence displayedAn effective piece of filmmaking. I now want to do something to help these beautiful giants. There's so much disturbing evidence displayed here to show the cruelty inflicted on these creatures, as well as a real understanding of the orca's emotional intellect and sense of family, that you can't walk away from this and not be affected. Which is what all good documentaries are supposed to do. Well done. Full Review »
  3. Dec 31, 2013
    This is a devastating look at how these Killer Whales are treated. This was a difficult watch with many tears shed for these majesticThis is a devastating look at how these Killer Whales are treated. This was a difficult watch with many tears shed for these majestic creatures. I know this has affected Sea World's business and rightfully so. A- Full Review »