Blu-ray Review “Dolphin Tale 2”

Starring: Harry Connick, Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Running Time: 107 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Living in Florida, I knew that I had to watch “Dolphin Tale”. It was a good film and after watching it I even took my daughter to go see Winter at the Clearwater Aquarium, which was cool. Honestly, this wasn’t really a film that was screaming for a sequel. The story is cute but it doesn’t stand up to the first film, to be honest. Same cast returned, which is always nice but it doesn’t help either. At least they dropped the terrible 3D gimmack from the first film, which was an incredible waste of time in my opinion. Some kids might enjoy this but it is quite slow moving and at times sad, so be wary there for sure.

Official Premise: The inspiring true story of Winter isn’t over. Several years after receiving a prosthetic tail, Winter loses her surrogate mother, leaving her alone, grieving and unwilling to engage with anyone, even her best human friend, Sawyer (Gamble). Worse, she may have to be moved from her home at the aquarium due to regulations requiring dolphins to be paired. When Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick Jr.) and his dedicated team can’t find her a companion, it looks like they may lose their beloved Winter… until an unexpected turn of events brings them Hope.

Warner Home Video is releasing this as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet digital HD code. The 1080p transfer is good looking but nothing special. The audio though delivers a surprise DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, which is good but not really fully taken advantage of either. The special features are ok  but all quite short. “Underwater Magic” features Writer/director Charles Martin Smith, producer Broderick Johnson, cinematographer Daryn Okada, and actors Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff discussing shooting in water.

“Look Who’s Running the Show” features Smith, Gamble and Zuehlsdorff talking about the sequel. “Bethany Hamilton Meets Winter” focuses on the cameo from Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton. “The Mission” is a featurette about Clearwater Marine Academy. “True Story” looks into the events that inspired the film. Lastly there is a music video for Zuehlsdorff’s “Brave Souls” and Gavin DeGraw’s “You Got Me” and a blooper reel included.

Dolphin Tale 2 arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on December 9 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Film Review “Dolphin Tale 2”

Starring: Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 47 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When we last left Winter the dolphin, she was swimming happily (thanks to her prosthetic tail) and had become an inspiration to handicapped people the world over. But that wasn’t the end of her story.

It’s been three years since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and Winter became national celebrities. The pair spend their days entertaining the many visitors to the Clearwater Marine Hospital (which has now become a mini-aquarium). As the film begins Winter is visited by Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm to a shark a few years ago (and has her own film, “Soul Surfer”). Things seem to be going well. But they’re not. Winter is getting moody. When her tank mate, a much older dolphin named Panama, passes away, the gang at the aquarium face a predicament. Find a new pal to keep Winter company or lose her to a Texas theme park.

The first “Dolphin Tale” film seemingly came out of nowhere and swam its way into the hearts of filmgoers, earning in excess of $70 million during its run. It was a well written story with an important message that families took to heart. And while the new film has its moments, it has some plot holes that keep it from really reaching the same heights as its predecessor, most of them centered on the film’s young cast. But before I go into them, let me clear up a few things. Like the first film, “Dolphin Tale 2” is based on some true events, most of them dealing with the dolphins featured. For fans of the first film, I should point out that there really IS no Sawyer Nelson. Winter was not rescued by a lonely 11-year old boy after washing up on a beach. She was saved after being caught in a fisherman’s net. And while it’s nice to have Sawyer (and Hazel, the 14 year old daughter of the hospital director) hanging out with the dolphins, they are just TOO smart and given way too much responsibility to be believable. If I was a trained marine biologist and my day had to begin by being lectured by a 14 year old on how to do my job I’d find another one in a minute! Just because we see a giant microscope and two thesauruses on Sawyer’s bookcase doesn’t make him Matt Hooper (inside “Jaws” reference). In one scene Hazel picks up Winter’s medical charts and begins diagnosing her blood work. And I’m sorry, but for two kids that work outside IN FLORIDA year round, neither of them can seem to get a tan. Casper the ghost isn’t as white as Hazel.

On the positive side, the film features some fun scenes featuring a nosy pelican and a giant sea turtle, as well as introducing us to a cute baby dolphin named Hope. Director Smith, who also wrote the script, does a good job in moving the film along. Younger children will enjoy the antics of the various animals involved and, like the first film, the end credits, showing handicapped children visiting and interacting with Winter, will bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat.

Blu-ray Review “Dolphin Tale”

Starring: Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Warner Brothers

Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Dolphin Tale” is definitely a fun for the whole family. If you are able to catch this film though, the best way to do it would be in its filmed 3D presentation. The story of rescue of the dolphin, Winter, is nothing out of the ordinary and the story has been done before but this one stands out as something special. This film is just packed with a big heart and some really great acting including great performances from Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. The film looks decent is 2D, even though it would shines much more in its 3D presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is fantastic and really shines during the water scenes. Overall this is a heartwarming film that does it job very well in entertaining families this holiday season.

The special features includes are decent. The first one is called “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge” is a sort of CGI short, which is definitely fun and a definite for kids. “At Home with Winter” is 15-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film with the cast and crew, nothing great but not bad either. “Spotlight on a Scene” features director Charles Martin Smith and producer Andrew Kosove as they discuss the ffilm’s opening sequence and the 3D dimension. The longest special feature on the disc is “Winter’s Inspiration”, about 20 minutes, which focuses on the true story of Winter. Not sure how it is really related to “Dolphin Tale” but there is an animated short called “Ormie and the Cookie Jar about a pig trying to reach a cookie jar on top of a refrigerator. It’s cute but doesn’t fit. There is one deleted (and forgettable) scene called “Winter Meets Panama”. Lastly there is a fun gag reel.  This combo pack includes the Blu-ray and DVD, also included is a Ultraviolet Digital Copy to watch anywhere from your computer or digital devices.  I really enjoy this feature.

Synopsis: In an inspiring story of the bond between animals and humans, a boy named Sawyer discovers an injured dolphin, who is brought to a marine hospital and named Winter. Unfortunately, her injuries cost Winter her tail, without which she may not survive. But with Sawyer’s devotion, a marine biologist’s (Harry Connick Jr.) and the brilliance of a prosthetist (Morgan Freeman) charged with creating a new tail, Winter may receive a second chance at life.

Buy It 12/20 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack with UltraViolet Digital Copy or Download to Own
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Film Review “Dolphin Tale”

Starring: Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Hollywood is full of films with stories that inspire us. “Rudy.” “Rocky.” “The Shawshank Redemption.” These are movies that, when you leave the theatre, stick in your memory long after the lights have come up. A new film opens this week that joins this short list: Dolphin Tale.

Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is a young boy living with his mother in Clearwater, Florida. His father having long deserted the family, he looks up to his older cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell). A champion swimmer Kyle seemingly has the world at his fingertips. But rather than accept the many scholarship offers he’s received, Kyle joins the Army. Feeling he’s being abandoned again, Sawyer is not happy with the decision. Kyle assures the boy he’ll be back and gives him a gift inscribed “Family is Forever.” With school out Sawyer happens down to the beach. While there he comes across a dolphin caught up in some netting. Soon the dolphin is rescued and taken to a nearby marine aquarium. Sawyer follows and soon begins an adventure that will change the lives of everyone, and everything, around him.

Based on a true story, “Dolphin Tale” is a smart, funny film that packs a solid message. The cast is strong across the board, with youngsters Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who plays Hazel, the daughter of the aquarium director (Connick, Jr.), giving credible performances. On the adult side, Connick, Jr. excels as a father figure for Sawyer. Kris Kristofferson offers sage advice as the elder of the family. Freeman, who really should be declared a national treasure, brightens the film every moment he’s on screen. But the real star here is the real star: Winter the Dolphin. Playing herself, Winter is a natural performer. The bond she develops with Sawyer and the others feels real.

Because of her run in with the netting, Winter loses her tail. Freeman’s character embarks on a mission to create a prosthetic one for her. As Winter’s plight and circumstances become public the aquarium begins to attract visitors from all over the country, with a majority of them being families where one of the members has a handicap. It is these small moments, when a child in a wheel chair sees Winter overcome her hardship, that the film is at its most inspirational. Director Smith, probably best known to film fans for his roles in “American Graffiti” and “The Untouchables,” frames the film handsomely against the natural Florida beauty. If I have any quibble it’s that the 3D is practically non-existent and doesn’t really add anything to the story.

Read our interview with “Dolphin Tale” director Charles Martin Smith HERE