On the face of it, and at the start of this gentle tale, this film has a great deal to commend it to a family audience. The first film is based on the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who was rescued off the coast of Florida in 2005 after losing her tail to a crab trap. So far, all so heart-wringing. This sequel picks up where Dolphin Tale ends and focuses on the need to provide Winter with company. The death of her older dolphin friend, Panama, flings poor Winter into a bout of dangerous behaviour and so remedies are needed and needed fast. This relief comes in the very sweet shape of a young dolphin, renamed Hope, who was rescued at such a young age that she cannot be released to the wild and who would therefore provide the perfect companion for Winter.
As is the case with a film of this kind we see two distinct stories playing out: the animal and the human. On the human side we have a number of big hitters in Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. These are joined by a couple of younger actors who play their roles with admirable seriousness and emotional punch. It’s all very believable and you do find yourself rooting for these characters as they struggle to find the best solution for Winter and juggle this with other commitments.
Then there are the dolphins. These are very cute giving a guaranteed anthropomorphic pull for young kids and yet the film somehow fails to hit the mark. The first problem is with the subject matter. Although you have a character in Winter who is engaging and sweet there is really not a great deal that you can do with him. The film suffers from a lack of any sense of danger, something shown by the fact that the biggest threat comes from the prospect of Winter having to move to a different aquarium. Also, the setting limits the action. Whenever we see the dolphins -other than one moving moment when one is released back into the ocean- they are firmly stuck inside the aquarium which means that any action and/or excitement is limited to very small sphere.
On the face of it this film appears to have all the ingredients for an engaging and interesting movie. However, it is just a little too serious and a little too limited to be anything other than a valiant effort at telling a true story and making it dramatic.
by Dave Fouracre aka Dave the Dad who watched the film with children Tom 9, Harry 6 and Caitlin 4.
Read Dave’s review of The Nut Job DVD