By Christopher Hill –
After a summer filled with aliens, monsters and computer simulated mayhem, Warner Brothers aims to inspire with their latest sequel, Dolphin Tale 2. The original Dolphin Tale featured a true story of a dolphin named Winter, who was rescued thanks to a caring recovery team, then rehabilitated using a one of a kind prosthesis. The device saved the dolphin’s life and a struggling aquarium.
The latest story based on real events features the loss of Winter’s partner, which presents concerns over the center’s ability to keep Winter healthy. The challenge is to pair Winter with a new dolphin prophetically named Hope. For the sequel, the entire cast from the original is back including Morgan Freeman (Dr. Cameron McCarthy), Harry Connick, Jr. (Dr. Clay Haskett), Kris Kristofferson (Reed Haskett) and Ashley Judd (Lorraine). The stars of the film, besides Winter, include Nathan Gamble (Sawyer Nelson) and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Hazel) and their murky relationship.
Art imitating life can be emotional and powerful, but rarely is there a call for a sequel. Our lives are simply not routinely interesting enough for the big screen. The original story was dramatic, emotional and genuine. This movie isn’t boring, but it lacks the emotional draw that was present in the first tale. Nothing happens you do not see coming a mile away, except for an odd relationship with a turtle and a pelican, which is supposed to be comedic effect, but is more confusing than anything else.
Now, as my eight-year-old daughter looks over my shoulder reading this, I need to amend my oncoming rant. She absolutely loved the movie. She loved the dolphins, she loved the happy ending, she loved the journey. Sometimes we get lost in continuity, motivation and story structure. Sometimes a story doesn’t need to leave you pondering the meaning of life; sometimes it can just be nice.
The filmmakers showed the actual footage of the events from the rehabilitation center’s original cameras throughout the credits. Here is where I found the emotion. Children with prostheses interacting with Winter was inspiring. You could see the joy in their eyes watching their hero. This is the story that is difficult for a Hollywood film to accurately portray.
For many, seeing Winter has become a pilgrimage of sorts. The inspiration that the real life dolphin is providing is magical and deserves to be heard. This is a family movie that may have deeper meaning that will escape adults. Maybe a nice, quiet tale is what is needed after a summer of superheroes, purges and mythological relics come to life. Or better still, take the kids to see Winter in person at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. I have a feeling that would inspire the entire family.
Violence: None, but there is a dramatic loss
Now Showing: In Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: PG