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: A marine biologist (Casper Van Dien) travels to Africa to investigate the unnatural behavior of sharks at a research center.... [More]
Directed By: Bob Misiorowski

#28

Dark Tide (2012)
0%

#28
Adjusted Score: 2%
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

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 5309%
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: A huge white shark harasses a New England widow (Lorraine Gary) and her marine-biologist son (Lance Guest) in the Bahamas.... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Sargent

#26

Jaws III (1983)
14%

#26
Adjusted Score: 17403%
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: An engineer (Dennis Quaid) and a marine biologist (Bess Armstrong) face a mother white shark at a Florida sea park.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Alves

#25
Adjusted Score: 10121%
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

#24
Adjusted Score: 9915%
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

#23
Adjusted Score: 16188%
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: A battle between two prehistoric sea creatures endangers the California coast.... [More]
Directed By: Ace Hannah

#22

Shark Night (2011)
18%

#22
Adjusted Score: 20030%
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: A weekend of fun turns into a blood-soaked nightmare when college students (Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack) discover they... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

#21
Adjusted Score: 16795%
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

#20

Ghost Shark (2013)
29%

#20
Adjusted Score: 10107%
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

#19
Adjusted Score: 15775%
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

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 36674%
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

#17

Shark Tale (2004)
36%

#17
Adjusted Score: 40719%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes.
Synopsis: A bottom feeder (Will Smith) pretends to be a fearsome shark slayer after the son of a finned hoodlum (Robert... [More]

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 49091%
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: With their air supply steadily dwindling, four teenage divers must navigate the underwater labyrinth of claustrophobic caves and eerie tunnels... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 21203%
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

#14

The Meg (2018)
46%

#14
Adjusted Score: 61328%
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 massive creature attacks a deep-sea submersible, leaving it disabled and trapping the crew at the bottom of the Pacific... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#13

Bait (2012)
46%

#13
Adjusted Score: 45753%
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

#12

In the Deep (2017)
53%

#12
Adjusted Score: 59466%
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: 64502%
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: A marine biologist (Saffron Burrows) and her staff become the prey of scientifically altered sharks that have a hunger for... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#10

Jaws 2 (1978)
61%

#10
Adjusted Score: 63454%
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: Amity's citizens and police chief (Roy Scheider) dread another tourist season with a huge white shark near the beach.... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

#9
Adjusted Score: 61643%
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

#8

Open Water (2003)
71%

#8
Adjusted Score: 77198%
Critics Consensus: A low budget thriller with some intense moments.
Synopsis: Scuba divers (Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis) struggle to survive in shark-infested waters after their tour boat accidentally leaves them behind.... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis

#7

Sharks (2004)
75%

#7
Adjusted Score: 50561%
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

#6

Sharknado (2013)
74%

#6
Adjusted Score: 71522%
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

#5

The Shallows (2016)
78%

#5
Adjusted Score: 88309%
Critics Consensus: Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively.
Synopsis: Stranded on a giant rock 200 yards from shore, an injured surfer (Blake Lively) must fight for her life as... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#4

Sharkwater (2006)
79%

#4
Adjusted Score: 79671%
Critics Consensus: In addition to its breathtaking underwater photography, Sharkwater has a convincing, impassioned argument of how the plight of sharks affects everyone.
Synopsis: The exploitation and corrupt practices by some people deplete the world's shark population in marine reserves.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Rob Stewart

#3

The Reef (2010)
80%

#3
Adjusted Score: 63870%
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

#2

Kon-Tiki (2012)
81%

#2
Adjusted Score: 84177%
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: In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl (PÃ¥l Sverre Hagen) and five companions set out to cross the Pacific Ocean on a homemade... [More]

#1

Jaws (1975)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 109124%
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: A New England police chief (Roy Scheider), a shark hunter (Robert Shaw) and a scientist (Richard Dreyfuss) have a showdown... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

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

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