Ever since I saw Jaws as a kid, I’ve been simultaneously fearful and fascinated by sharks. I imagine my story isn’t too uncommon, with the ever-increasing popularity of Discovery’s Shark Week. So when Mill Creek Entertainment stepped up to the plate, with their newest release Shark Divers, I was a little nervous. What was I in for? Would it just be another carbon copy of Shark Week? Was there really anything new that could be brought to light about the monsters of the deep? The answer to these questions, is a complicated one.
Shark Divers sets out to capture the world of shark diving, a supposed sport that puts adrenaline junkies in the faces of these fearful creatures. What drives a person to take up shark diving? Unfortunately, this is just one of the many questions that Shark Divers poses for its viewers, but fails to answer. Admittedly, even a cursory glimpse into this world was fascinating, showcasing footage unlike anything I’ve seen before, but in the end, Shark Divers does little more than introduce its audience to this extreme sport. At a running time of roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes, there were ample opportunities for further exploration, but instead, Shark Divers merely wades in the waters rather than diving in headfirst.
Part of the problem with this DVD set is that it effectively does not function as a set. While the cover of the DVD boasts “The Spectacular Four-Part Program,” Shark Divers never seems fully committed to functioning as a four-part program. What this means for viewers is that a number of information, soundbites, and even video clips are reused and recycled throughout the program. This may have been done in an effort to trim production costs or to hook viewers that may not have seen all four parts, but for those that have, the repetition quickly becomes tiresome. Furthermore, Shark Divers doesn’t provide enough information to justify its running time. One of the segments, “Giants of San Benedicto” does not even feature sharks, but rather, manta rays. While this particular episode is still interesting, it feels out of place within Shark Divers. If the repeated material had been scrapped and the superfluous segments had been cut, the program could have easily functioned as one two-hour special.
Honestly, that is what Shark Divers needed to do. It isn’t a total waste of time. It’s a solid premise, filled with colorful characters, interesting anecdotes, and some stunning camerawork. Still, it frequently comes off as overly-long, somewhat clunky and definitely disjointed. For shark enthusiasts, don’t check out Shark Divers expecting too much new information about the sea creatures, but it might be worth your time to see some of the footage captured for the program. In the end, Shark Divers is a visual treat, but it is bogged down by so much, that it’s difficult to justify watching its 3 hour and 15 minute running time.
Shark Divers will be released on DVD and blu-ray Mill Creek Entertainment on June 26, 2012. There are no special features.