Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Powerful, heartbreaking, disturbing doc about captive orcas.

Movie PG-13 2013 83 minutes
Blackfish Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 14+

Sea Sux

Wow...a film that is painful, bleak and damning to humanity. To treat these beautifully intelligent creatures with so much cruelty is beyond reprehensible. It is difficult to feel badly for Sea World. And it is heart wrenching to hear about all of the deaths and injuries that the capture, training, and imposed performance of these whales has inflicted on young trainers that were following Sea World protocol.
age 14+

Awful misleading and a burning garbage pile

This movie is misleading and awful. Instead of focusing on moving forward with it’s arguement it decides to attack the character of SeaWorld. It constantly tries to pull the audience away from the cold hard facts by using sentimental appeal. It presents false statistics, a one faced argument, and faulty science. Psychosis in whales is an unproven theory per pirated by animal rights groups. They present no facts and clouded information. No proven theory’s, as well as using a woman’s tragic death to their advantage. It presents only its own viewpoint and falls back upon sentinmental to keep the watchers in their side. They present to us only former trainers and no such scientific scholars and even much less scientific evidence. It is a poorly written and executed story, with nothing other than sentimental appeal to back it up.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (18 ):

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite packs an incredible amount of information and emotion into the 83-minute documentary. It's probably just as well that SeaWorld representatives declined to be interviewed. As it is, her message comes across clearly and without anger. She does interview several former employees, who seem mortified about having believed the company line and saddened that they took part in this particular treatment of Tilikum and other whales.

We learn about how whales in the wild have never been known to attack humans and how -- despite SeaWorld's claims -- they live much longer there than in captivity. We learn that the whales are extraordinarily intelligent and emotional creatures and how their attacks are possibly based more on frustration than aggression. Overall, Blackfish is brutal -- it shows several attacks and wounds -- and heartbreaking; it conjures up great sympathy for these magnificent, mysterious creatures. You'll never see a whale the same way again.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate