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!

#29

Shark Attack (1999)
0%

#29
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Casper Van Dien, Ernie Hudson, Jenny McShane and Bentley Mitchum star in this thriller about a marine biologist doing research... [More]
Directed By: Bob Misiorowski

#28

Dark Tide (2012)
0%

#28
Critics Consensus: Shallow and brackish, Dark Tide fails to rise.
Synopsis: Kate (Berry) is a shark expert whose business has been failing since a shark attack killed a fellow diver under... [More]
Directed By: John Stockwell

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 2.54%
Critics Consensus: Illogical, tension-free, and filled with cut-rate special effects, Jaws 4 - The Revenge is a sorry chapter in a once-proud franchise.
Synopsis: Lorraine Gary stars as Ellen Brody, the widow of the police chief played by Roy Scheider in the first two... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Sargent

#26

Jaws 3 (1983)
12%

#26
Adjusted Score: 14.457%
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: Produced in 3-D for the theatre, the great white escapes its tank at Sea World and terrorizes the town.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Alves

#25
Adjusted Score: 8.38%
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: Ian Ziering will slay again in Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens, reprising his role as shark-fighting hero Fin Shepard, while... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#24
Adjusted Score: 8.722%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Nic Cage, Tom Sizemore and Tom Jane star in the harrowing tale of real life American heroes shipwrecked in shark... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

#23
Adjusted Score: 14.593%
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: When two enormous prehistoric creatures contend for supremacy of the sea, the California coast becomes the setting for a showdown... [More]
Directed By: Jack Perez, Ace Hannah

#22

Shark Night 3D (2011)
18%

#22
Adjusted Score: 19.544%
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: Arriving by boat at her family's Louisiana lake island cabin, Sara (Sara Paxton) and her friends quickly strip down to... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

#21
Adjusted Score: 13.68%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In SHARKNADO 6: IT'S ABOUT TIME, the sixth and final installment of the series, Fin will travel back in time... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#20

Ghost Shark (2013)
29%

#20
Adjusted Score: 8.764%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Last Fourth of July, teenager Christy Bruce disappeared from a high school beach party. Her severed arm washed ashore a... [More]

#19
Adjusted Score: 13.683%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The pop culture phenomenon SHARKNADO blows into town this summer... and this time, the shark-infested storms pick up wind as... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 36.393%
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: The entire East Coast comes under threat when shark-infused storms wreak havoc on Washington, D.C., and Orlando.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#17

Shark Tale (2004)
36%

#17
Adjusted Score: 41.06%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes.
Synopsis: Oscar is a fast-talking little fish that dreams big. But his big dreams land him in hot water when a... [More]

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 48.096%
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: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged follows the diving adventure of four teenage girls (Corinne Foxx, Sistine Stallone, Sophie Nélisse, and Brianne... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 18.992%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A seafaring birthday celebration takes a turn for the terrifying when the passengers of a luxury yacht forget to lower... [More]
Directed By: Hans Horn

#14

The Meg (2018)
45%

#14
Adjusted Score: 58.048%
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: A deep-sea submersible--part of an international undersea observation program--has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct,... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#13

Bait (2012)
47%

#13
Adjusted Score: 47.423%
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: When a monstrous freak tsunami hits a sleepy beach community, a group of survivors from different walks of life find... [More]
Directed By: Kimble Rendall

#12

47 Meters Down (2017)
52%

#12
Adjusted Score: 58.252%
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: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico become trapped in a shark cage on the ocean floor. As their oxygen starts to... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts

#11

Deep Blue Sea (1999)
59%

#11
Adjusted Score: 63.786%
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: Dr. Susan McAlester's experiments are on the verge of creating medical history. But to reach her goal, she has violated... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#10

Jaws 2 (1978)
59%

#10
Adjusted Score: 61.822%
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: Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters.... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

#9
Adjusted Score: 61.363%
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: The sequel to 2013's Sharknado, this time set in the Big Apple.... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#8

Open Water (2004)
71%

#8
Adjusted Score: 76.49%
Critics Consensus: A low budget thriller with some intense moments.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, a thriller about an American couple, Daniel and Susan, who are on an island holiday.... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis

#7

Sharks 3D (2005)
75%

#7
Adjusted Score: 46.333%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: 'Sharks 3D' is a new IMAX theatre film experience that offers audiences an astonishing up-close encounter with the Lions and... [More]
Starring: Geoffrey Bateman

#6

Sharknado (2013)
74%

#6
Adjusted Score: 60.7%
Critics Consensus: Proudly, shamelessly, and gloriously brainless, Sharknado redefines "so bad it's good" for a new generation.
Synopsis: A freak storm brings hundreds of vicious, man-eating sharks ashore in Los Angeles and a group of friends struggle to... [More]
Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante

#5

The Shallows (2016)
78%

#5
Adjusted Score: 86.363%
Critics Consensus: Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively.
Synopsis: In the taut thriller The Shallows, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on... [More]

#4

Sharkwater (2007)
79%

#4
Adjusted Score: 79.496%
Critics Consensus: In addition to its breathtaking underwater photography, Sharkwater has a convincing, impassioned argument of how the plight of sharks affects everyone.
Synopsis: For filmmaker Rob Stewart, exploring sharks began as an underwater adventure. What it turned into was a beautiful and dangerous... [More]
Directed By: Rob Stewart

#3

The Reef (2010)
80%

#3
Adjusted Score: 55.35%
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: On the beautiful but dangerous waters of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, ship delivery man Luke and four friends chart a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Traucki

#2

Kon Tiki (2013)
81%

#2
Adjusted Score: 83.454%
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 explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific ocean in a balsa wood raft in 1947, together with five men, to... [More]

#1

Jaws (1975)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 107.997%
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: Based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark saga set the standard for the New Hollywood popcorn blockbuster... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

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

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