DOLPHIN TALE 2 REVIEW

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Two stars for the main mammals (the dolphins, that is)

Yep. You read that right. I watched Dolphin Tale 2. (Against my better judgement).

I’ve been feeling for some time that films just haven’t reached the levels that they used to. Going for the easy option. Predictable, lazy, cliched stories with badly written characters that rely heavily on star factor to put bums on seats. No surprises. TV has excelled where cinema has left me disappointed.

HOWEVER, family movies are normally bang on the buck with the little ‘uns (and some parents) being the toughest critics to win over. As I’ve said before, Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks have excelled at making films that have something for everyone.

Unfortunately, not this time round. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a very watchable and easy going film but memorable? Not so much. I mean some of the Free Willy sequels that inevitably reared their ugly heads had a bit more going on than this. BUT I have found lately that films I write off normally surprise me. This was nowhere near as corny as I expected . . . until the closing moments.

It would help if you like dolphins. Duh, right? The opening sequence in which a dolphin is rescued by the aquarium certainly zipped things along. I didn’t expect to be bombarded with a number of dolphin facts. A few of which I did not know. It was informative without being pretentious. Unlike the Walking with Dinosaurs Movie. It kept things moving along and I found my cynical demeanor cracking a little.

You don’t need to see the first film to know what’s going on. If not for the obvious number tagged on the title, I would have thought nothing less (Tragically, it didn’t make me want to chase up its predecessor).

After all the recent SeaWorld controversy and the harrowing Blackfish documentary, it was only a matter of time that a schmaltzy, rose tinted view was taken. BUT skeptic views on animals captured and raised in captivity aside, at the film’s core is a story about a boy’s relationship with his fish (No, not like that).

This is helped with a likeable lead in Nathan Gamble (The Mist). He delivered a solid performance as Sawyer. Cozi Zuehlsdorff (No, I didn’t lean on the keyboard) was a little irritating to start with but once I got used to her character, she soon grew- became tolerable. She nailed the smiley SeaWorld instructor host with aplomb. The pair worked well together.

The real scene stealers were inevitably the animals. The scenes in which Gamble interacts with Winter the dolphin are well done with a mixture of real, CGI and model sequences. All which work really well. Just right. Not too cartoony for a change. The fact that Winter had a prosthetic tail made things a little bit more interesting.

There were some endearing moments in which Winter has become a mascot for amputees. A little corny but nicely done. A meeting with a war veteran and celebrity surfer Bethany Hamilton hit home.

Another notable scene stealer was a pesky pelican. One that didn’t even belong to the aquarium. Popping up at impromptu moments and delivering the laughs. I was more interested in the subplot involving the pelican assigning himself the role of guardian to a sea turtle. It shouldn’t have worked but it got me.

There is a great supporting cast at the director’s fingertips but not much was really made of them. Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr play their parts as well as they can but they are merely the supporting parents. A shame. I couldn’t take Connick Jr seriously as the father figure. Kris Kristofferson was in a rather subdued role and boy has he aged all of a sudden. I knew he was old but . . .

Morgan Freeman played his role without a care in the world. A legend in my eyes. His limited presence does make an impact when he gets the chance. The whole I have stuff older than you jibes were great to start with. But soon got old really quick. You may have blagged it in Last Vegas, Mr. Freeman. A second time? Shame on you.

The story didn’t have enough going to keep fidgeting bums in seats (and that’s just the adults). I couldn’t help making Free Willy comparisons and realizing that the content was very much a TV movie at best. The constant pressure from the corporate bigwigs in the initial opening was a harsh and all too real commentary.Concern for the animals taking second fiddle to advertising and merchandise deals.

But it all ends so dreadfully corny that I was left flailing my arms about; like the blasted pelican.

There were a couple of twists and turns that I didn’t expect for all my cynicism involving the dolphins. I was surprised by two particular plot points involving the dolphins that did peak my attention (without spoiling) but the main issue with these sort of films is that you know the inevitable outcome even with the threat of the dolphin being relocated.

The subplot of Gamble’s Sawyer’s internship has been done to death, spurring an unnecessary love story between him and Zuehlsdorff’s Hazel.

It is most definitely one for the little ‘uns. An easygoing and nicey nicey film but if you were expecting Free Willy or something a little more, you may left a little disappointed.

2.5/5

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