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DVD Review: Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter – Ocean’s Deadliest

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Ocean’s Deadliest, which has previously aired on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, is the last documentary Steve Irwin, famed animal expert and television star, was working on before his untimely and tragic death after being fatally struck in the chest by a stingray’s tail. Irwin appears in less than half the segments. His co-host Philippe Cousteau, grandson of famed French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, took the lead and completed the project.

The line-up features the most obvious creatures, such as the great white shark and saltwater crocodile, the world’s most dangerous shark and reptile respectively. Cousteau gets in amongst the sharks with the assistance of Rodney Fox, the Australian man who designed and built the very first shark observation cage. During the crocodile sequence, fans of Irwin will see him in the very familiar setting of capturing, tagging, and releasing them for further study. He runs into an old friend that had been tagged two years earlier.

However, it’s the smaller and less familiar creatures that provide the most compelling footage and are the most lethal. The most venomous creatures of their species are the reef stonefish, the cone shell, the sea snake, and the blue-ringed octopus. The animals are caught and brought to the lab, so their venom can be extracted and used to create antivenin antidotes. Cousteau appears to have almost been sprayed in the face during the examination of a reef stonefish’s spines.

The title of world’s deadliest creature belongs to the box jellyfish, which conflicts with its frail appearance as it seemingly floats through the ocean harmlessly.  Their venom is the most powerful ever encountered.  It is amazing to watch a jellyfish get tagged with a tracking device because the creatures look like their tentacles could easily tear apart.  The program concludes with a look at the exploitation of the ocean and the dire effects that result by the contender for world’s deadliest creature, mankind.

The footage looks fantastic. The visuals look crystal clear and the colors, especially the blue ocean, pop off the screen. The cameramen do a great job of capturing of the events; for the most part, the shots are framed and the camera is steady, which is hard than it seems when trying to contain and capture Irwin.

Ocean’s Deadliest does a very good job of making science interesting and entertaining, in part due to Irwin’s trademark enthusiasm and fearlessness. He grabs right for reef stonefish, jumps in the water with a sea snake, is the first one on the back of a crocodile. While it might be the proper way to treat and handle animals, it is slightly unnerving for the novice animal handlers in the audience who don’t know any better. It is this appearance of recklessness that caused many people to not be surprised when they heard an animal killed Irwin, even though the action was unusual for a stingray. No mention of Irwin’s death is mentioned until the documentary is dedicated in his memory at the very end.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS