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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Dolphin's Survival and The Triumph of the Human Spirit -- DOLPHIN TALE in 3D Movie Review

Potato On The Go:

Finally, after the long wait, we can now witness the story of "Dolphin Tale in 3D" in theaters!  Well, it has been a while since we saw a family movie of this kind but I guess the long wait is worth it as Dolphin Tale, as the trailer already suggested, is one awesome story to watch out for!

Dolphin Tale in 3D is based on a true story of a brave dolphin and the compassionate strangers who banded together to save her life.  Swimming free, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail. She is rescued and transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she is named Winter. But her fight for survival has just begun. Without a tail, Winter’s prognosis is dire. It will take the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant prosthetics doctor, and the unwavering devotion of a young boy to bring about a groundbreaking miracle—a miracle that might not only save Winter but could also help scores of people around the world.

The film stars Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman as Dr. Ken McCarthy, who is given the seemingly impossible task of crafting a new prosthetic tail for Winter; Harry Connick, Jr. as Dr. Clay Haskett, who runs the Clearwater Marine Hospital; Ashley Judd as Lorraine, a single mother; Nathan Gamble as her son, Sawyer, who frees Winter from the trap and forms an instant connection with the dolphin; Cozi Zuehlsdorff as Hazel, Clay’s daughter, who befriends Sawyer; and Kris Kristofferson as Clay’s father, Reed. “Dolphin Tale” was directed by Charles Martin Smith from a screenplay by Karen Janszen & Noam Dromi.

In this challenging and desperate times, people are in dire need of things that could inspire them, give them hope and help them hold on to their faith.  I know this is really quite an enormous challenge because as you know, we live in a fast paced, stressful and anti-social life.  And besides, there are just to many bad stories that flood our media, both mainstream and digital, so a feel good movie such as this is indeed most welcome.

So when I first learned about the movie Dolphin Tale in 3D, I can't help but get excited to see it as I know chances are rare to witness a movie as moving as this.

First of all, I would like to commend the Charles Martin Smith (the film's director), Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi (screen writers), the entire production team as well as the magnificent cast for bringing to life the wonderful story of Winter. The journey of Winter and the people that surrounds her is a wonderful sketch of the triumph of the human spirit.  I definitely agree with you that Winter, and any dolphin for that matter, is outright a cute and charming creature that would attract people to know her story.  But aside from the visual delight, Dolphin Tale is a moving story of recovery, hope, courage, rehabilitation and triumph, and that's literally and figuratively speaking.  It all started from saving a gentle yet playful sea creature but as the people tries to save her, it was Winter who saved them from the state of hopelessness and despair.  It also talks about the value of family and staying put amidst trials.  The real and the reel Winter serves as a symbol of courage, perseverance, hope to a lot of people, both able and differently abled who have been touched by her one of a kind story. Dolphin Tale is such a touching story, a heart warming experience and an inspiring force. 

Some of the memorable lines are:

"Family is forever" -- which shows the value for family
"Not because your hurt means you're broken" -- suggests that pain comes along the way but we can always rise from it
"He's alive, and that's what matters" -- talks about recovery and resiliency because as long as we're alive, we can always start all over again and make a difference

And as we witness this Winter's recovery phase, we are treated to a comfortable and relaxing story telling because while the characters are in quest to save the dolphin, the audience is toured around in a much desired environment and community -- nice and happy people, a marine facility, a calming laid back neighborhood, amazing friendship and familyness. It's one big feel good movie but with a twist, relevance and substance.  =)

But before I miss, one message of the movie we should also keep in mind, and tell other people, is the danger humans put in the environment.  Winter's story is a real example on how we can affect the rest of the creatures who share the planet with us.  As stewards of the environment, we should be responsible in everything we do.

As mentioned earlier, Dolphin Tale in 3D is a visual delight!  Since I saw this first in trailer, I just knew that the 3D experience here will be amazing!  And indeed, i was true!  the 3D effect in the underwater scenes makes it very real yet fascinating!  This visual execution has a calming effect that makes the audience sit back and enjoy the magical scene!  Production Design is excellent as it carefully details the elements of the film's setting -- the marine facility, the boat, the sea, the town.  As this is a family movie, story telling and transition is straightforward.  Editing gave a visual treat by injecting computer graphics - blueprints, designs and diagrams -  in developing the artificial tail of Winter (though it really is needed in the story).  There's one particular scene that made me laugh and yet put me in a lasting impact -- it's the scene when Hunter splashed water to Dr. Ken McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), and responds to the boy who said that the dolphin likes him, "Imagine my delight", and then the scene immediately fade out.  Everyone laughed at this moment.

Ashley Judd as Lorraine, mother of Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), was a able to portray the role of the single mother with conviction, compassion and genuine love for her child.  Nathan on the other hand was effective in his character as a too much reserved boy who slowly opens up and enjoys life with the arrival of Winter.  Well, the film's best performer is no less than Winter as herself.   She was just so amazing, imagine how the director was able to make her make sounds, make tantrums, play, swim in circles etc. etc.  Austin Stowell as Kyle, Sawyer's cousin who became disabled, gave a very fine performance that pinches the heart of the people watching the movie.  Morgan Freeman as Dr. Ken McCarthy, as always has an overwhelming presence but despite his stature as an actor, gives some comic relief with his witty punchlines.  But the film's scene stealer is no less than Rufus!  Haha, he's the squawking seagull who has been playing around the marine facility.

I just noticed that the news anchor that Kyle approached in the movie towards the end is someone he knew well, but it was not clearly established at the beginning of the film, except for the part that the journalist was reporting their swimming match.  Well, it's given that the movie will end well but the journey slowly unveiled in the movie is something different and comes in surprise.  I just hope though that the surprise character towards the end would have more build up or planting as he made a big and life changing decision in the movie.

Be moved by this film by witnessing how a dolphin's survival becomes the triumph of the human spirit.  To get to know more about Winter, please see www.seewinter.com.  By the way, you definitely need to stay put as the real clips from Winter's rescue and recovery will be shown towards the end of the movie.  

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving Dolphin Tale in 3D a loud 8 1/2 matching with water splash!  =)

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Dolphin Tale in 3D opens in theaters today, October 05 in 3D and regular formats.

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