Review: The Cove

A tiny, unassuming cove in a small Japanese fishing village has been
the sight of an unfathomable injustice for years. Over 23,000
dolphins are brutally rounded up and slaughtered every year, while
the government looks the other way. Now, armed with a wad of cash, a
whole lotta guts, and a slew of cool toys to play with, a brave team
of adventurers and activists will go “behind enemy lines” to
show the world the truth. 

Moore and Morgan Spurlock, consider yourself warned: there’s a new
documentary filmmaker in town, and he means business. The
is a stunningly accomplished and effective piece of
non-fiction, one I still can’t believe came from the hands of a
first-time director. The man I’m heaping praise on is Louis
Psihoyos. A former National Geographic photographer and founder of
the Oceanic Preservation Society, Psihoyos is a far more modest and
unassuming man than the two previously mentioned documentarian
titans. And yet, the subjects he chooses and the way he tells his
story with The Cove are
perhaps more engrossing than anything I’ve ever seen in a
documentary. Yup, I said it. When the film opens with Psyihoyos
cautioning “I do want to say that…I tried to do this story legally…” you just know you’re in for
some fireworks.

introduced to the plight of the Taiji dolphins by another man of
striking presence and prestige, Ric O’Barry, the former trainer of
the world’s most famous dolphin, Flipper. After the tragic death
of one of his prized dolphins, O’Barry had a sudden change of
conscience, and has devoted his life to saving cetaceans world-round
ever since. In the opening scene, O’Barry drives through the tiny
town of Taiji, Japan, keeping his white face shrouded to throw-off
numerous locals out to harm and potentially kill him. And thus the
stage is set for one hell of a thrill-ride, a journey made all the
more engrossing and devastating by the fact that it’s all
completely real.

titular cove is completely cut-off from public view, and that’s
the way the local fisherman want it; the bloody massacre that occurs
there yearly is reminiscent of the most gruesome Lionsgate torture
flicks (ironically the film is being distributed by Lionsgate). To
get access to this private cove, Psihoyos and O’Barry assemble a
crack team of adventure junkies, composed of the world’s greatest
freedivers, a former military special-ops soldier, and then some.
The team comes amazingly well-funded (and well-connected) as they
bring in the most high-tech surveillance audio and video gear
around, employing the services of former ILM employees and other
industry bigwigs to develop some truly clever hidden cameras and
underwater devices for their scheme.

the real genius behind the film is how it is able to interweave this
storyline with a larger narrative, one that divulges fascinating
information about dolphins, their extreme intelligence, the
conspiracy-esque reasoning behind their slaughter, and their
worldwide treatment as a whole. The filmmakers get unprecedented
access to International Whaling Commission summits and grab
interviews with some of Japan’s most notorious whaling villains,
many of whom come across more devilish then the most infamous
Hollywood villains.

photography background serves him well here, as visuals- especially
underwater ones, are crisp, vivid, and almost dream-like in nature.
The score, which seems almost non-stop, is equal parts soothing and
heart-pounding and compliments the images on screen to perfection.
Despite the film’s deeply serious message, The
rarely feels grim or heavy-handed; everything here is very
easy to access for the common audience member, and the narration
feels less like a lecture than a conversation, which helps us
connect with our on-screen heroes.

the film’s final act, when these brave men and women finally
execute their plan, I guarantee you’ll not only be on the edge of
your seats, but by the time the credits roll, you’ll be clamoring
for the nearest tissue. I literally cannot find a flaw in this film,
and for that very reason, I’m giving it my first ever perfect 10.

you’d like to find out how you can help the Taiji dolphins, head
over to

Review: The Cove




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