Dolphin Tale 2
Director: Charles Smith
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble107 mins; Class U;
KRS Releasing Ltd

This is of course the sequel to Dolphin Tale, the family drama released in 2011 about an injured bottlenose dolphin named Winter that was rescued in December 2005 off the Florida coast and looked after at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

You may recall that Winter’s tail was amputated after becoming entangled with a rope and she made the headlines when she was fitted with a prosthetic one.

The success of the film has prompted this sequel, which pretty much follows the path of the first – a tale of hope and inspiration, aimed at all the family.

It is made up of equal parts sentimentality and some very warm-hearted animal moments without really offering anything new, so audiences should know what to expect.

Nathan Gamble returns as Sawyer, now a young teenager who helps out at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, mainly looking after his beloved Winter.

When Winter’s surrogate mother, the dolphin Panama, dies, Winter seems to be depressed at having lost her pool mate.

Moreover, the US Department of Agriculture threaten to move Winter to another aquarium if another dolphin can’t be found as, according to regulations, dolphins cannot be housed alone.

You’d have to be a little hard-hearted not to be moved

All this happens when Sawyer is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to enhance his studies; which he cannot accept as he refuses to be away from Winter.

The hook that made Dolphin Tale work so well was the astonishing true story of Winter and her prosthetic tail.

Although this second instalment is also based on fact, it’s marginally less successful in the script department, for writer and director Charles Martin Smith tries to link various plot strands together. But, ultimately, they remain a little weak and the outcome is predictable.

The potential blossoming of his friendship with childhood pal Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) into some-thing more is to be expected and the drama surrounding Winter’s predicament is a little pat.

Martin Smith, who also directed the first film, is a little less restrained in the schmaltz department than the first time round, but the main characters, including Dr Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr) and Morgan Freeman being Morgan Freeman as Dr Cameron McCarthy, are likeable enough to involve you emotionally.

That said, you’d have to be a little hard-hearted not to be moved by the plight of the dolphins and various other mammals that feature. The film is at pains to illustrate the love that these mammals are given at the aquarium.

This leads to a couple of truly moving scenes depicting the moments a dolphin and turtle are set free… even the less ardent animal lovers out there will feel a lump forming in their throat as the ocean welcomes back its own.

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