The Cove


Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 26
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 26
  3. Negative: 0 out of 26

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Critic Reviews

  1. The Cove exposes the dark secrets that underpin the world’s dolphin mania, whether it’s our enjoyment of the animals performing circus tricks in aquariums, the swimming-with-dolphins industry, or the government recruitment of the sea mammals’ intelligence, communication, and sonar abilities for military applications.
  2. 75
    The Oceanic Preservation Society doesn't change the world so much as call attention to something so very wrong with it. And in doing so, The Cove culminates with an image of political agitation that might be one of the most oddly effective public service announcements you'll see.
  3. Directed by Louie Psihoyos, this well-intentioned documentary exposes the harvesting of dolphins by Japanese fishermen, yet its theatrics suggest a cross between reality TV and "Mission: Impossible."
  4. 100
    There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee.
  5. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    A taut, thrilling documentary that plays out like a heist movie while never overshadowing its message or activist credentials.
  6. The Cove is the rare documentary specifically designed as a thriller.
  7. 100
    At once an astonishing feat of advocacy filmmaking and a white knuckle eco-thriller; think Michael Moore meets Michael Mann.
  8. A powerful and effective piece of advocacy filmmaking, but it's difficult to watch it without thinking of subtitles like "The Place Where Evil Dwells" or "The Little Town With the Really Big Secret." Which is no accident.
  9. 75
    The most horrific -- and heartbreaking -- scene of any movie thus far this year comes at the climax of The Cove.
  10. Not only does it deliver a powerful message, but it is wrapped in an immensely entertaining package.
  11. The end of The Cove is as rousing as anything from Hollywood. Manipulative? Sure--but isn't that fitting? Capitalism has driven an entire village to massacre dolphins and keep its work hidden.
  12. 88
    Two fins up for The Cove, a documentary that whales on evil Japanese fishermen who kill dolphins for lunch meat.
  13. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Psihoyos describes his troops as a kind of "Ocean's 11" team, and that's apt enough: He's making a real-life action caper, a heist with potential consequences in the real world. The buildup to getting the shots they want has a good deal of natural tension. And the payoff -- well, let's just say it's devastating.
  14. An eco-mentary that's as passionate and persuasive an argument for change as "An Inconvenient Truth."
  15. 83
    It's an exemplary and incendiary instance of documentary filmmaking as real-world advocacy.
  16. 75
    The Cove plays like a thriller. It has the breathless pace of a "Bourne" movie, but none of the comfort of fiction. This is documentary filmmaking at its most exciting and purposeful.
  17. 100
    What's so remarkable about Louie Psihoyos' documentary The Cove isn't just that it's a powerful work of agitprop that's going to have you sending furious e-mails to the Japanese Embassy on your way out of the theater. That's definitely true, but the effectiveness of The Cove also comes from its explosive cinematic craft, its surprising good humor and its pure excitement.
  18. The caper-movie touches and cocky self-awareness may wear thin, but you can't discount the importance, or the horror, of that footage.
  19. 67
    The Cove's ultimate message gets muddled, especially since Psihoyos limits all counter-arguments to a few inarticulate or thuggish boobs.
  20. Hopefully, after seeing this film, interest in places like Sea World will begin to decline.
  21. Shot rivetingly by cinematographer Brooke Aitken, who combines digital, night-vision and thermal-imaging formats into a formidable package, the footage is edited tautly by Geoffrey Richman and enhanced measurably by J. Ralph's suspenseful score.
  22. Like the director's cover story, the movie is a Trojan horse: an exceptionally well-made documentary that unfolds like a spy thriller, complete with bugged hotel rooms, clandestine derring-do and mysterious men in gray flannel suits.
  23. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Eco-activist documentaries don't get much more compelling than The Cove, an impassioned piece of advocacy filmmaking that follows "Flipper" trainer-turned-marine crusader Richard O'Barry in his efforts to end dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.
  24. 90
    The Cove is properly enchanting, horrifying, and rousing, but it comes dangerously close to making the narcissistic case that dolphins deserve to be saved because they're cute and breathe air like we do.
  25. The film makes its case graphically, to say the least, yet muddies its bloody waters with an excess of artifice and a dearth of facts.
  26. The slaughter is part of a traditional fishing culture, according to the Japanese. But if you succumb to the emotional appeal of this documentary, it emerges not just as a bloody and brutal business but almost as bad as genocide.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 90 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 4 out of 20
  1. Sep 28, 2010
    In a truthful manner, I am not an individual who situates his attention on animal rights and or cruelty. I am however, pliable to a well-doneIn a truthful manner, I am not an individual who situates his attention on animal rights and or cruelty. I am however, pliable to a well-done documentary that may or may not change my position on a controversial subject. The Cove is a 2009 documentary film directed by Louie Psihoyos, that documents the annual slaughter of dolphins in Wakayama Japan. A fraction of the movie plays like a common documentary film, interviewing prominent figures in the fishing business and presenting the audience facts and related correlations. While the remainder of the film is in the point of view of a crew trying to attain documentation of dolphin cruelty. Overall, the film succeeds in projecting its point, these water-dwelling mammals are under unbelievably considerable cruelty. The film is remarkably crafted and entirely deserves the Oscar that it received a few months back. Although it is effective, I believe that it had a lack of what could have made it even more effectual. The part that really triggered my pathos was the actual footage of the dolphin slaughter and the risks the crew took in capturing the film. The majority of the film focused on the facts, while the actual live filming, was in all actuality saved until the end. If more of the film focused on the latter portion, it would have been ideal. To conclude, The Cove is an effective documentary that is astonishingly done in a good matter, but I have a feeling that it could have been faintly better. Full Review »
  2. TracyA
    Aug 10, 2009
    Gosh, just the film for scare hype to those ignant about fishing methods. Harpooning and polespearing are not that unusual for killing large Gosh, just the film for scare hype to those ignant about fishing methods. Harpooning and polespearing are not that unusual for killing large fish. After all, the Japanese have been eating dolphins for centuries. What they kill can't be compared to the number (over 100,000 per year) killed or drowned by the fishing nets of our tuna fishermen. Many dolphins get entangled in old nets, floating freely and loosely in the seas. Besides, many near-shore dolphins and porpoises are exposed to pollution and toxins, making them sick.. just look at the growing reports of the large numbers of sick and dying bottlenose dolphins washed up on our East Coast! Fishermen, off northern Australia, have been using dolphin meat to bait sharks! Save your money and spend it on 'UNDER THE SEA.' Full Review »
  3. May 21, 2013
    I think this documentry was very good and expressed a ton of information on the cruel sitution going on in Japan. I give this a 10, Rick O'I think this documentry was very good and expressed a ton of information on the cruel sitution going on in Japan. I give this a 10, Rick O' Berry is truly a dolphin saver. The things he has done sacrificing his own life for the dolphins is amazing. He goes out of his own way. It makes me sad to know innocent animals are getting killed, Thanks to Take Part and The Cove, the number of dolphins being killed has decresed greatly over the years. I'm glad a group like Take Part took a step and made an impact and changes of the ways in Japan. The Cove has greatly helped and changed the outcomes of dolphin deaths a year. Good Job 10 Full Review »