While 2011 may go down as a year filled with disappointing movies, at least Dolphin Tale won’t count among them. With a touching, triumphant tale of survival that’s based on a true story and a wonderful cast, this film will easily swim its way into the hearts of viewers everywhere.
The tale follows a young boy named Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) who’s trying to make his way through life in Florida. Not long after finding out that one of his favorite cousins is about to be shipped off to the war in Iraq, he walks along the beach only to find a dolphin washed ashore that’s entangled in the ropes of a crab trap. He finds help to get it to an aquarium where Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) is forced to amputate Winter’s tail due to the damage caused by the ropes. Realizing that the dolphin, who they name Winter, won’t survive long without a tail, Sawyer and Clay reach out to Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) who makes prosthetics for war veterans where Sawyer’s cousin has returned to after being hurt during his tour of duty in the middle east. It’s up to all of them to help create a prosthetic tail to help Winter live, while also going through life’s dramas and trying to keep the financially struggling aquarium open.
I did enjoy the drama and struggles the characters had to work their way through while becoming closer to one another. And how can you not love the main star, Winter the dolphin (who plays herself)?
Warner Bros has done an amazing job with the video transfer, as everything looks sharp and colorful as it should. Every detail, especially the underwater scenes, look absolutely amazing here. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio equally astounding, as every splash of water and piece of dialogue is heard with crystal clarity.
The special features also make quite a splash as well. “At Home With Winter” goes into detail on how the touching true story came to be made into a film, while the cast shares their thoughts on how it was like working with Winter. “Winter’s Inspiration” gives viewers a look at some interviews with the real-life folks that helped Winter, from the aquarium handlers to the guy that made the tail. It’s a really nice piece for those who want to see the “true” true story of what really happened as they worked with Winter to help her survive. “Spotlight on a Scene” breaks down the opening scene, which uses a blend of shot footage and computer generated effects, and the challenges that went into making it come together. “Hutash’s Rainbow Bridge” sheds some light on, while also illustrating a fable that Connick’s character tells in the film.
The last is a deleted scene which shows another dolphin being placed into Winter’s pool, and a funny gag reel showing off some of the goofs and outtakes from the movie that is sure to bring a chuckle or two while you watch.
Dolphin Tale is a touching drama filled with great characters and perhaps the most lovable dolphin since Flipper that is bound to captivate viewers and capture your heart. Based on the true story of Winter the dolphin (who also co-stars as herself), this tale of enduring friendship and survival is a bright ray of sunshine in a year of cinematic disappointments, and while some may not care for the film’s unflinching optimism, I wish there were more like it. Warner Bros did an excellent job bringing it home, with plenty of extra features that help compliment Winter’s journey perfectly. If you’re looking for a feel good, inspirational treat to watch with family and friends, then look no further as I’m certain this will become one Blu-ray that people will want to swim its way into their collection and will enjoy time and time again.