Yesterday, I reviewed Dolphin Tale (2011), a dramatization of a real life sea mammal that was rescued from being stranded on a beach with a crab trap wrapped around its tail. Once it came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, it had to have its tail amputated, a move that threatened its life until a prosthetic was made for her. The fact that it is seemingly a handicapable animal made Winter a sensation, both on and off the screen. As such, you would think there would not be much more to say about the creature, but they found a way. The result is Dolphin Tale 2 (2014), a film that is basically identical to its predecessor. As such, my reaction to it was not too different either.
Winter’s boy rescuer in the first film, Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), is now a few years older in Dolphin Tale 2 and has become an integral part of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. His primary job is to work with Winter for the crowds of people who come to see the dolphin and her special appendage. There are other dolphins there too, which is apparently essential for maintaining the good mood of the small pod. Unfortunately, the eldest, Panama, dies, and Winter apparently takes the event hard. She even thrashes about when Sawyer tries to put the prosthetic on her. The main problem, though, is that United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited the aquarium for a few minor violations, but (and why the USDA cares about such things, I cannot tell you) the main thing they are concerned with is the lack of a companion for Winter. The aquarium’s director, Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), is given thirty days to find another dolphin or they would be forced to relocate Winter. This is also a cause of concern for the facility’s benefactor, Philip Hordern (Tom Nowicki), who sees the fact that Winter is in isolation and her potential loss as an economic downfall. All this seems to be giving Sawyer a good reason to leave for a college program at sea studying aquatic life, an opportunity that will be paid for by the sponsoring school. He does not want to leave Winter, but he may not have a choice. Things turn around when another dolphin comes to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Actually, there are two. The first arrives after a similar beaching to Winter’s. However, this one is eventually rehabilitated and released back into the wild. The second dolphin is one that got separated from its mother, and is thus quite young. For whatever reason, this means that it is not a candidate for a return to the sea. Equally puzzling is the notion that you cannot simply put two dolphins together and let them co-exist with each other. While I suspect this is simply for story-telling purposes, the movie gives us some science mumbo-jumbo about them needing to adapt to one another. It also appears the younger dolphin, named Hope, has an issue with Winter’s lack of a tail. This is how they first meet. It is Sawyer’s instinct, anyway, that the problem is Winter’s deformity, and he turns once more (like he did in the previous movie) to prosthetic maker Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) to come up with a new artificial limb that appears more life-like. You know, because dolphins can distinguish such things. Either way, this does the trick, Winter and Hope except each other, and the aquarium is saved.
Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 are similar because the larger tension is whether or not the aquarium will go on. Granted, in Dolphin Tale 2 it is more focused on whether or not they will be able to keep Winter. Since Winter is their main money maker, one can assume that her loss would be financially ruinous. Another similarity is the care for animals fostered by Sawyer in the first film, and which continues in the second. In my review of Dolphin Tale, I discussed the Catholic notion of the preciousness of all life. While repetitive, I am happy to say that it is also on display in Dolphin Tale 2.
I am not sure what else to say about Dolphin Tale 2. The title kind of says it all because there are now two dolphins instead of the one. It is another fine movie to watch with the family, but not terribly original. For these reasons, I was mostly bored.