Best Shark Movies (And Worst) Ranked by Tomatometer

You’re gonna need a bigger screen. But that’s only if you want to take in the full awesome glory of earth’s bitiest avenger: the shark! It’s the only apex predator we humans have cleared time from our busy schedule to pay humble tribute to (we’ve certainly never heard of Sperm Whale Week), Rotten Tomatoes likewise took the time to put together our list of the best shark movies (and the worst) ever — all ranked by Tomatometer.

Our love/hate cinematic relationship with sharks began with directing legend Samuel Fuller and his aptly titled Shark! in 1969, a movie which effectively killed his career for a decade, until 1980’s The Big Red One. Here was a lesson most people would take wisdom from (sharks, even the ones you make up, are not to be trifled with), but it takes a certain cavalier breed to make it as a director, forging ahead where others spectacularly failed.

Enter Steven Spielberg. His 1975 masterpiece Jaws, infamous in almost destroying the young auteur mentally and professionally, would become the first-ever blockbuster. It buoyed the summer season out of the doldrums and turned it into a big-budget movie destination, while instilling a real fear of deep water for a whole generation.

It’s been open season for shark movies in Hollywood ever since, and in the ensuing decades we’ve gotten camp classics (Sharknado!), modern hits (The Shallows!), the lovable (Deep Blue Sea!), and the very much not-so (Ghost Shark!). Now that we’re all chums caught up on some fishy history, continue on to see every shark movie ever that chomped up a Tomatometer!


Shark Attack (1999)

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When marine biologist Steven McKray (Casper Van Dien) learns that a friend died in a mysterious shark attack in South... [More]
Directed By: Bob Misiorowski


Dark Tide (2012)

Critics Consensus: Shallow and brackish, Dark Tide fails to rise.
Synopsis: A traumatized shark expert (Halle Berry) must battle her own fears to lead a thrill-seeking businessman on a dive into... [More]
Directed By: John Stockwell

Adjusted Score: 2563%
Critics Consensus: Illogical, tension-free, and filled with cut-rate special effects, Jaws: The Revenge is a sorry chapter in a once-proud franchise.
Synopsis: The family of widow Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) has long been plagued by shark attacks, and this unfortunate association continues... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Sargent


Jaws III (1983)

Adjusted Score: 13604%
Critics Consensus: A cheese-soaked ocean thriller with no evident reason to exist, Jaws 3 bellows forth with a plaintive yet ultimately unheeded cry to put this franchise out of viewers' misery.
Synopsis: After a young great white shark finds its way into a sea-themed park managed by Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett Jr.),... [More]
Directed By: Joe Alves

Adjusted Score: 13383%
Critics Consensus: Sharknado: The 4th Awakens loses the ridiculous charm of its predecessors, leaving only clumsy social commentary and monotonous schtick that's lost its bite.
Synopsis: Fin (Ian Ziering), his family and the cosmos have been blissfully sharknado-free in the five years since the most recent... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

Adjusted Score: 15418%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After their ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the crew members of the USS Indianapolis face a harrowing nightmare... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

Adjusted Score: 18944%
Critics Consensus: With shoddy FX, acting and directing. This isn't so bad it's good. It's just so bad it's terrible.
Synopsis: Strange things are afoot in the depths of the sea. First a passenger plane vanishes over the Pacific Ocean. Then... [More]
Directed By: Ace Hannah


Shark Night (2011)

Adjusted Score: 20231%
Critics Consensus: A joyless excursion into the water that doesn't even produce good gore or nudity thanks to the neutered PG-13 rating.
Synopsis: Newly arrived at her family's lake-island cabin, college student Sara (Sara Paxton) and her friends prepare for a weekend of... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

Adjusted Score: 19298%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fin has to go back in time to rejoin his shark battling friends to stop the first Sharknado and save... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante


Ghost Shark (2013)

Adjusted Score: 12965%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After rednecks torture and kill a great white shark, its spirit returns from the dead to seek revenge on the... [More]
Directed By: Griff Furst

Adjusted Score: 24100%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fin and his wife April travel around the world to save their young son who's trapped inside a sharknado.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

Adjusted Score: 36511%
Critics Consensus: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! bites off more than it can chew, leaving viewers with an overlong mess that isn't even bad enough to be good.
Synopsis: A monstrous tornado unleashes ravenous sharks from Washington, D.C., all the way down to Orlando, Fla.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante


Shark Tale (2004)

Adjusted Score: 42371%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes.
Synopsis: Underachiever Oscar (Will Smith) is a pint-sized fish with grand aspirations. When mob-connected great white shark Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is... [More]

Adjusted Score: 49821%
Critics Consensus: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged may not be as ruthlessly efficient as its finned villains, but fans of shark peril thrillers should find it just chummy enough.
Synopsis: Four teenage divers discover that the sunken ruins of a Mayan city are also a hunting ground for deadly great... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts

Adjusted Score: 24617%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Six long-time friends (Susan May Pratt, Richard Speight Jr., Niklaus Lange) try to stay afloat in the ocean after they... [More]
Directed By: Hans Horn


The Meg (2018)

Adjusted Score: 64077%
Critics Consensus: The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills -- or the cheesy bite -- to make it worth diving in.
Synopsis: Previously thought to be extinct, a massive creature attacks a deep-sea submersible, leaving it disabled and trapping the crew at... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub


Bait (2012)

Adjusted Score: 45712%
Critics Consensus: Bait isn't entirely lacking in the shark action department, but a silly story and thinly sketched characters may leave audiences bored between bloody attacks.
Synopsis: A freak tsunami traps a group of people in a submerged grocery store. As they try to escape, they are... [More]
Directed By: Kimble Rendall


In the Deep (2017)

Adjusted Score: 63934%
Critics Consensus: 47 Meters Down doesn't take its terrifying premise quite as far as it should, but its toothy antagonists still offer a few thrills for less demanding genre enthusiasts.
Synopsis: Young sisters Kate and Lisa and travel to Mexico for a vacation filled with sun, fun and adventure. Lisa needs... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts


Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Adjusted Score: 63664%
Critics Consensus: Deep Blue Sea is no Jaws, but action fans seeking some toothy action can certainly do -- and almost certainly have done -- far worse for B-movie thrills.
Synopsis: On an island research facility, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is harvesting the brain tissue of DNA-altered sharks as a... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin


Jaws 2 (1978)

Adjusted Score: 60582%
Critics Consensus: Jaws 2 never approaches the lingering thrills of its classic predecessor, but it's reasonably entertaining for a sequel that has no reason to exist.
Synopsis: Years after the shark attacks that left Amity Island reeling, Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) finds new trouble lurking in... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

Adjusted Score: 61486%
Critics Consensus: The schlock factor for Sharknado 2: The Second One is not as entertaining as its predecessor's, though fans of the brand will likely enjoy it.
Synopsis: A freak weather system brings in ravenous sharks to munch on hapless New Yorkers and iconic landmarks.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante


Open Water (2003)

Adjusted Score: 78235%
Critics Consensus: A low budget thriller with some intense moments.
Synopsis: Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) embark on a tropical vacation with their scuba-diving certifications in tow. During a... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis


Sharks (2004)

Adjusted Score: 57896%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau documents face-to-face encounters with a wide variety of the ocean's ultimate predators, including white, hammerhead and whale... [More]
Starring: Geoffrey Bateman
Directed By: Jean-Jaques Mantello


Sharknado (2013)

Adjusted Score: 64319%
Critics Consensus: Proudly, shamelessly, and gloriously brainless, Sharknado redefines "so bad it's good" for a new generation.
Synopsis: A monstrous storm devastates Los Angeles, leaving the streets flooded and infested with sharks.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante


The Shallows (2016)

Adjusted Score: 91022%
Critics Consensus: Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively.
Synopsis: Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra


Sharkwater (2006)

Adjusted Score: 79940%
Critics Consensus: In addition to its breathtaking underwater photography, Sharkwater has a convincing, impassioned argument of how the plight of sharks affects everyone.
Synopsis: Arguing that sharks are misunderstood as dangerous creatures, biologist Rob Stewart travels to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica and other... [More]
Directed By: Rob Stewart


The Reef (2010)

Adjusted Score: 72814%
Critics Consensus: A gripping example of less-is-more horror, The Reef is the rare shark attack movie that isn't content to merely tread water.
Synopsis: A sailing trip becomes a disaster for a group of friends when the boat sinks and a white shark hunts... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Traucki


Kon-Tiki (2012)

Adjusted Score: 83882%
Critics Consensus: A well-crafted retelling of an epic true story, Kon Tiki is a throwback to old-school adventure filmmaking that's exciting and entertaining in spite of its by-the-book plotting.
Synopsis: Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen) suspects that the South Sea Islands were originally colonized by South Americans. In... [More]


Jaws (1975)

Adjusted Score: 105773%
Critics Consensus: Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg's Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.
Synopsis: When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Thumbnail image: Syfy; Dimension Films; Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

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