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Critics Review
Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth: Despite the star reeling us in, the eco-documentary lacks the bite

The brisk documentary barely dives deep to highlight the serious issues plaguing the sharks, but you tend to not notice all this when the focus more often than not is on the actor's perfect jawline rather than the misunderstood predators of Jaws

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Sep 13, 2021
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Chris Hemsworth

Story: After a rise in shark attacks on the Australian coast in 2020, Chris Hemsworth seeks to understand the behaviour of the species with the help of marine biologists including the world's most renowned shark expert Valerie Kay and three-time surfing champion Mick Fanning. Hemsworth deep-dives and probes (literally) ways of reducing shark encounters, using latest technology and traditional methods, while also highlighting the need to protect the species in this brisk 44-minute documentary.

Review: In the first few minutes of Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth, which is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, you could easily mistake it for a surfing commercial - what with the Australian hunk, in his deep tone, talking about sunrise, his love for beaches and flashing his surfboard abs before swimming with his mate into the sea. But that sort of sets the tone for this breezy eco-documentary that is inundated with stylish shots of the Thor actor, who is genuinely concerned about the shark-human encounters that have seen a huge spike in the Australian coast in 2020.

Hemsworth, in this documentary, tries to figure out the puzzling behaviours of sharks, through first-hand experiences of surfing champion Mick Fanning and renowned conservationist and shark expert Valerie Kay, along with venturing out on his own to see and touch a Great White Shark for the first time.

As an awareness episode, Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth has very little to offer that is new. The documentary doesn't delve deep into the conservation efforts, the reasons for increase in shark-human encounters such as global warming, or how some of the technologies shown are helping in minimising the incidents. Instead, all you get is Hemsworth's takeaway from the explanations given to him by the scientists and experts - which by the way isn't much. But you tend to not notice all this when the focus more often than not is on the actor's perfect jawline rather than the misunderstood predators of Jaws.

However, as a host, the star reels you in and makes you want to tag along. The highlight of the documentary is when the charming Hemsworth interviews 85-year-old Kay, who talks about her efforts to protect nurse sharks and the dangers of nets along the coasts to prevent shark attacks. A particularly splendid moment is when he dives with Kay to swim alongside giant nurse sharks.

Credit to Hemsworth for sticking his neck out to swim with the sharks and even sticking an anal swab into a Great White's rear end in the name of science.

Verdict: If you are looking for more insightful information on the lives of sharks, Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth is bound to disappoint you. But as a beginner foraying into marine eco-documentaries, Hemsworth's looks and deep tones will keep you hooked, if not for the sharks. And if you want to just see the best bits from this documentary, we recommend you head to the National Geographic's YouTube channel. 

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