Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
Family movies are a tricky business, really.
You can either go all out and make a family movie that tugs at your heartstrings so hard only people who can be manipulated go for it. And on the other hand you can try, but in the event of attempting restraint, you become so restrained that the free flow of emotion – the one thing that makes or breaks a family film – doesn’t get an entry, thereby making it a drab movie.
Of late, however, there has been a sort of lacking when it came to this genre. Feel-good family films garner a lot of audience, but when made with an extreme of stuffed plot devices in a businesslike attempt to win all sorts of audience, they garner money, but never memorability.
Over the more recent years, Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo caught many a feel-good movie lover’s fancy. My personal opinion for the film has always been – and will continue to be – that this film is such a winner, taking over the original source material (an autobiographical account based on a true story), changing it to suit the film’s needs and presenting it in a way that keeps the emotion intact, whilst also making the film expansive and with characters that can be absolutely relatable. This, apart from other heartwarming additions of the likes of The Blind Side and Ramona and Beezus have probably been a few of the only films to have hit the market to appeal universally.
Speaking of animals and true stories however, let’s come back to what this article really is about – Dolphin Tale 2. God knows that I’ve definitely been waiting to watch the movie though. A family film would most definitely be a great addition to my eyes this year, considering the barrage of absolutely zany additions this year.
What’s it About?
Winter, the dolphin rescued in the first film, is distraught with a tragedy. The only solution would be to pair her with another dolphin. The journey the characters of this film take to do that form the rest of the film.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The film has a lot of warmth when it comes to the writing and direction. Following up on the events of the first film (which I now absolutely have to see to gain perspective), they’ve managed to stick to the true story they started off with – and that calls for an applause. Charles Martin Smith (Stone of Destiny), who reprises his role as director in this film – and makes a cameo appearance as the douche of an inspector in one scene – understands the tone of the film very well. He puts the plot into action in the first five minutes of the film itself, setting everything up for action, so that the rest smoothly unfolds.
The problem rests mainly on the film’s middle, which has a subplot of the turtle and slightly more human interaction than the title suggests. But everything about the movie is about going with the flow and understanding that the journey the characters in the film are facing are about close enough to the incidents that have already occurred in real life. The first movie has a trump card on the kind of emotion the characters exhibit through the kinds of incidents that occur in the film, which this film clearly misses – because the protagonists and the supporting characters easily overcome the hurdles of the film.
The movie is exquisitely well-shot. Props must be given to the underwater scenes, imaginatively directed by Karl Walter Lindenlaub (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) in the sphere of moving photography. Some of the scenes have been able to capture some exquisite emotively heavy moments. I’ve always deemed Rachel Portman (The Lake House) brilliant; and here too she continues to uphold my faith in her with her emotionally dazzling pieces that have given a succinct elevation to every scene that needs the kind. A perfect replacement to Mark Isham, Portman induces a score that will definitely manage to melt even the coldest of hearts. The production design of the film is realistic, and relies highly on the beauty of the steady camerawork and stunning cinematography to make it look exquisite. The edit is smooth, consistent and fits the bill.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Harry Connick Jr. (PS: I Love You) does a fine job as Dr. Clay Haskett. While there’s nothing groundbreaking in his performance per se, he exudes a much needed warmth to his character – and that’s all that’s needed in the film. Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy) fits the bill to the T, reprising her role of the mother of the character of Sawyer, played wonderfully by Nathan Gamble (Babel). One hopes Gamble doesn’t gamble off his image for a money-making YA-framework image in the future, because his performances ooze genuineness, which is what’s needed of the young talent in this industry. Ditto for Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who exhibits a dynamism in her emotive abilities, which – at this age – is wonderful. Morgan Freeman is fun, but doesn’t register much really. It was a great decision to include a personality like Bethany Hamilton in the film, as her story echoes Winter’s and it makes for a wonderful “bit-of-inspiration” right there.
Let’s get the hard facts out of the way first. Is the movie perfect? Not by a mile and a half. Is it terrible though? Same answer there too.
Although riddled with pacing problems and possibly unwanted subplots on a narrative level, along with it being comparatively devoid of moments that made the first film a clear winner, the movie is still nothing but pure joy to watch on the big screen, if only for the ever-dazzling human-dolphin interactions that keep happening many a time, which will most definitely melt hearts and send little streams of tears down your eyes. Combined with Rachel Portman’s winning score and warm performances to an overall tonally appropriate film that continues to be faithful to the follow-up of real life events that made the first film rather than making it a cash cow to emotional-trigger-happy masses, this film proves to be a decent successor to its first installment.
Definitely watchable enough.
Star Rating: 3 / 5