10 Best Films That Were Mostly Set In Or Underwater, Ranked According To IMDb

The aquatic genre isn’t one that studios often dive into. Filming on or under water is certainly expensive and can seriously limit what can be done in camera. Often times the practical budget alone sky rockets, not to mention the complex digital effects that are often needed to enhance the movie.

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Despite the complicated nature of making an aquatic film, there’s been a number over the years that have really stood the test of time. While some may be of higher quality, this list features films that can be considered the best due to their impact on the industry and how iconic they are. They are then ranked by IMDB!

10 Waterworld (1995) 6.2

Waterworld Kevin Costner


Waterworld is one of the most infamous films in history since it was incredibly expensive but quite the flop at the box office. The Kevin Costner movie lost the studio millions and yet it is still remembered as a filmmaking attempt.

The production itself had a lot of problems, but what is more fascinating is that the concept is genuinely interesting. In fact, there’s still plenty of ideas that really work and it really feels like Mad Max at sea. This is a compelling movie to re-watch and consider its impact on the industry.

9 Aquaman (2018) 6.9

Aquaman DC

Aquaman is a relatively recent movie to feature on this list, but it demonstrated that Warner Bros. was able to adapt one of the most difficult DC characters to bring to the screen. For years Aquaman had been a bit of a joke.

While taken seriously in the comics, it seemed impossible to bring Arthur Curry to cinemas without it coming off as cheesy. But with some great writing, breath-taking special effects and a story that relied upon the comics, Aquaman was a massive success.

8 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) 7.2

20000 Leagues Under The Sea Disney

One of the absolute classics in the Disney archives, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is gaining some new appreciation thanks to its availability on the Disney+ streaming service. The famous ship itself is even honored at some of Disney’s Parks.

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Based on the classic novel of the same name, a submarine known as the Nautilus captained by Nemo, investigates a mystery that has been going on for some time. They go on an adventure to try to discover where all of these lost ships are really disappearing to.

7 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) 7.3

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Wes Anderson

A Wes Anderson film is really unlike anything else on screen. It’s usually heart-breaking, completely wacky and features a winning combination of brilliant camera choices and fantastic casing. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is no different.

Combining a narrative of a career-obsessed man reunited with a long lost son, as well as a revenge mission on a shark that ate one of his friends, there’s a lot going on here but the film is a hilarious, cinematic treat.

6 Finding Dory (2016) 7.3

Finding Dory Marlin

Pixar has started to work on sequels more and more these days, especially since their full merger with The Walt Disney Company. However, sometimes the follow up film doesn’t quite stand up to the original.

This is the case for Finding Dory, but despite that the movie is still as charming and as fun. With Dory lost looking for her family, Marlin and Nemo team up for the first time on screen to try to rescue her. It’s a great family adventure with some thrilling animation.

5 The Abyss (1989) 7.6

The Abyss James Cameron

James Cameron is quite the film legend. While it’s easy to point out many of his classics, one that often goes unnoticed is The Abyss. A tense thriller, the movie is set in a nuclear submarine that has encountered some significant problems.

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Engaging with an alien species of sorts, this movie is incredibly claustrophobic. A key component though is the watery monster that is put on screen. Using ground breaking special effects, its easy to see how this movie went on to inspire the famous CGI scenes of Terminator 2. 

4 Moana (2016) 7.6

Moana Disney

Part of the renaissance of Disney animation, Moana thrilled audiences thanks to its combination of classic Disney storytelling with Polynesian culture. The result is a moving tale of a girl travelling across the sea with a demi-god, searching to save her home.

It’s really a marvel of modern technology, with the water beautifully animated. Moana’s own aquatic powers are a core part of the story, as is her relationship to the arrogant Māui. The film also boasts some stellar songs that are sure to continue to be featured across Disney history.

3 Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) 8.0

Pirates Of The Caribbean Curse Of The Black Pearl Jack Sparrow

Another Disney hit, when the company initially announced it would create a film based on a ride, many were sceptical as to what the results would be. The success of the original ended up spawning multiple sequels and now even a new spin-off franchise.

The original film is often considered to be the best though, with the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow being introduced to audiences for the first time. Scary, exciting and verging on the fantastical, it’s easy to get swept away by this swashbuckling adventure.

2 Jaws (1975) 8.0

Jaws Shark

Steven Spielberg’s legacy is certainly going to be defined by a few key films from throughout his career. It’s fair to say that Jaws is absolutely going to be one of them, as it essentially came to inspire a whole new genre.

Without that original shark movie, the world would have never ended up with The Meg or Piranha. While that may be appealing to some, it’s hard to deny the impact the film had on the movie industry; or for that matter the effect the music had on the rest of cinema.

1 Finding Nemo (2003) 8.1

Finding Nemo Pixar

Pixar often tops the list considering the complex emotional themes it manages to balance, alongside some state of the art animation and gorgeous storytelling techniques. Finding Nemo is actually a production that featured early into Pixar’s history.

The animation was incredibly difficult considering nearly all of the film took place underwater. Despite the difficulties of making a film like this, the production team achieved what was almost impossible and created a masterpiece of animated movie-making.

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Updated: November 6, 2020 — 3:00 am

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