Sunday, 9 October 2011


Dolphin Tale [Review]

Opinion: B

Albeit subtle and instilling much lesser melodrama than expected, Dolphin Tale nevertheless swims through our hearts and filling it with warmth and heartfelt connections as the film progresses. Sometimes, we like to think that true stories already have so much to inspire. Here in Dolphin Tale, the animal-human connection (as well as human-human ones) is truly magical and mesmerising. Especially with the screen presence of "Winter" the protagonist dolphin playing herself.

Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale” is inspired by the amazing 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 real Winter, who plays herself in “Dolphin Tale,” today serves as a symbol of courage, perseverance and hope to millions of people—both able and disabled—who have been touched by her remarkable story of recovery and rehabilitation.

Charles Martin Smith brings us a family delight that will very likely appeal to the young and pure at heart. Dolphin Tale is based upon a true story of a traumatised dolphin "Winter" (who plays herself in this film!) whose tail had to be amputated, thus severely reducing her ability to survive back in the ocean.

It may appear to be just another animal protection awareness film on first look, but it goes a little beyond with the introduction of a subplot connection between Winter and Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble, who also played James Gordon, Jr. in The Dark Knight) that became the core of the film.

Before it looks set to become yet another Free Willy, the film's characters are instead inspired by Winter and subsequently creating a closer bond with one another.

For a start, Sawyer opens the film as an introvert who was likely to be so due to the bullies in his Summer School as well as what happened to his father much earlier. It was his first encounter with Winter that fascinated him (and us) and thereafter opening him up to vibrance and passion.

His sudden firing up also turned into an inspiration for his mother Lorraine (Ashley Judd) and cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell). But not without first placing their sight upon Winter at the Clearwater Marine Hospital.

Smith doesn't tread into melodrama and instead opts for natural revelation of the plot with a mystical sense of subtlety. Camerawork wasn't fanciful, less the first person's perspective of Winter. That said, the film's numerous fade to black transitions felt a little jarring to one's mind.

No comments on 3D effects as my screening was in 2D digital.

What a pleasant surprise to see how both child actors having the ability to hold their own screen presence, especially of fresh face Cozi Zuehlsdorf who played Hazel. She made Hazel a delightful presence to watch for throughout the film.

Not to forget veteran Morgan Freeman, who is ever so interesting with his choice of words on screen. Not much given to his role as Dr McCarthy, but he managed to make it so much more.

On a whole, Dolphin Tale makes for a great family gathering at the theatres with some magical touch between humans and dolphin. Inspiring further with domestic values, the film did feature an unforgettable line that probably sealed the deal for me:

Family is forever.


  1. I would like to see this, but definitely not in 3D. I can't stand it. This looks like a very heartwarming movie and I'm glad it's not given to useless melodrama. I hate when there are scenes set up specifically to elicit certain emotions. Cry here, laugh here, think about your selfishness here. Like ALL of Nicholas Sparks' films. He has all the emotional subtlety of a sledgehammer.

  2. I was afraid it would be too sappy. Will catch it on NetFlix.


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