Friday, March 13, 2009

DVD Review: Summer Of The Sharks (2009)

Summer of the Sharks
75 minutes
Not Rated
DVD available on March 17th

by Scott Mendelson

Summer of the Sharks is a refreshingly on-point documentary, giving the audience what they want and what they expect, without feeling the need to artificially enhance the material. It is about a small group of ocean dwellers who spend their free time 'shark-diving'. That means they dive into the ocean to literally swim with sharks. And, for 75 minutes, that's pretty much what you get.

After Eli Martinez was gored in a bull riding event, he decided to try deep sea scuba diving as a recreation while his injuries healed. Destiny intervened and he encountered a shark in Mexico. He was immediately intrigued and decided to concentrate on shark encounters as a full time hobby. He started Shark Divers Magazine in 2003 and through that venture met up with undersea photographer Andy Murch and Rafael Flores, a south Texas rancher who would become the underwater camera operator. Eventually Eli would propose something akin to The Endless Summer, but with sharks. This film chronicles that 'summer of the sharks', a summer-long road trip that also included quite a bit of shark diving. Rusty Armstrong would document the journey and eventually craft this film.

If you like sharks and you want a solid hour and change of intimate footage of various species of shark as they almost eat our intrepid adventurers, you'll get your moneys worth here. This is almost procedural in its construction. There are no side dramas, no burning life-long issues to be resolved, no inflated 'plot twists' or artificial peril. This is just four friends journeying about and doing what they do best. The bulk of the narrative is either the experience of swimming with the 'apex predator' or scenes of preparation or aftermath of said encounters.

There is a last minute incident involving the slaughter of sharks by local fishermen, and the film climaxes with a call for conservationism, but Summer Of The Sharks is basically just 75-minutes of a few likable guys and fearsome creatures that they willingly swim with. While one could complain about the lack of depth or 'character development', I appreciated the pure focus on shark diving and underwater adventure. You want terrific shark footage? You get terrific shark footage.

The film is shot on high-definition video, in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is a high quality image, with bold, striking colors and sharp visuals. The screener I watched contained English 2.0 audio. The DVD release contains two cuts of the film (the 'unrated' version and 'family friendly' version with muted profanity), deleted scenes, a commentary, and a photo gallery.

Grade: B


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to get a copy of this.

Anonymous said...


Ralph said...

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