Movie Review: ‘Dolphin Tale 2’

Dolphin Tale 2 Movie Review
COZI ZUEHLSDORFF as Hazel Haskett and NATHAN GAMBLE as Sawyer Nelson, with WINTER as herself, in Alcon Entertainment’s family adventure ‘DOLPHIN TALE 2,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo ©2014 ALCON ENTERTAINMENT, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

“Winter needs to be paired with another female and soon. I’m giving you 30 days,” says the USDA inspector (Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 director Charles Martin Smith) to Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), putting a deadline on getting the famous dolphin with the prosthetic tail matched with another female or she’ll be transferred to another marine hospital in the family friendly, dolphin friendly sequel, Dolphin Tale 2.

It’s been a few years since young Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and the team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital rescued the injured dolphin, Winter, and were able to help her swim again with the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) who created a unique prosthetic tail for the wounded mammal. But now they all face a new challenge when Winter’s surrogate mother, Panama, passes away from old age. For the first time Winter is alone and has no pool mate to swim with, leaving her feeling depressed, anxious and scared. Making matters worse, according to USDA regulations dolphins cannot be housed alone for the sake of their social health and must be paired with another dolphin of their sex. It’s up to Sawyer, Dr. Haskett, his daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and the rest of the Clearwater team to find a companion for Winter who she’ll accept as a pool mate before time runs out.

Dolphin Tale 2 is cheesy and too sweet, suffering from a painfully predictable script, weak dialogue, and walk-through performances from its cast. The original Dolphin Tale movie told the inspiring true story of a dolphin who should have died from its wounds but was saved due to the intervention of the staff and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Hospital and the invention of the ground-breaking prosthetic tail. Unfortunately, unlike the first film the sequel has no real story to tell. It’s a dilemma by the numbers with no sense of true urgency or danger. The film feels as though it was meant as a television ‘Movie of the Week’ on the Nature channel.

The performances by the two young leads Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff go from unbelievable to extremely awkward as they try to show how their characters are starting to feel more than just friendship for each other. But it’s not just Gamble and Zuehlsdorff who have trouble connecting with the material as the film’s loaded with uninspired performances, not surprising as the actors are forced to deliver lines like, “I love that fish,” or “What on earth is wrong with that bird?” A better question would be why was there a need for this sequel?

The pacing is another problem with more than half of the film following a depressed, motionless dolphin in its confined pool. Who wants to watch a sad dolphin doing pretty much nothing for half of a movie? Anybody?

With corny dialogue and phoned-in performances, Dolphin Tale 2 is an excellent example of an unnecessary and forgettable sequel.


Dolphin Tale 2 is rated PG for some mild thematic elements.

– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty

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