The tension starts simply via 911 emergency calls from SeaWorld Orlando recorded February 2010, including the chilling report, “A whale has eaten one of the trainers.” In the riveting Blackfish, veteran documentary director Gabriela Cowperthwaite takes a holistic, compelling look at the sea park industry even as she pulls back the curtain on the notorious orca Tilikum, the whale responsible for the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau and two others. Via interviews with former SeaWorld trainers, Cowperthwaite makes the point that there are devastating consequences that come from keeping intelligent and sentient creatures like orcas in captivity. Tense, gripping and fast-paced with plenty of cover-your-eyes, underwater footage, Blackfish unfolds like a thriller with Tilikum as its Jaws-like menace. Cowperthwaite’s skills at suspenseful storytelling are impressive, but what makes the film stand out is its larger theme regarding whether it is even possible to transform SeaWorld into a healthier operation for man and beast. Blackfish also raises important questions stemming from Branchaeu’s tragic death: Can man possibly control a beast like Tilikum? More importantly, why should anyone even attempt it if the sole reason to do so is simply to provide superficial, circus-like entertainment?