Dolphin Tale 2
Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman feature in a bland, aquarium-set sequel
The seam of true-life marine stories mined in 2011's anodyne Dolphin Tale is further depleted by this return visit to the underwater denizens of Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. The bright-looking yet colourless live-action narrative and overqualified cast place writer-director Charles Martin Smith's sequel firmly in a cinematic tradition of tiresome do-gooding, reaching back to Free Willy, Flipper, Lassie, Skippy and Champion the Wonder Horse.
Dolphin Tale 2 continues the adventures of Winter the bottlenose dolphin, whose heart-warming back-story involving a prosthetic tail recalls that of Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon. With surrogate mother Panama no longer around to take care of Winter, teenager Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), kindly mom Lorraine (Ashley Judd) and temperamental doctor Clay (Harry Connick Jr) have to make some tough decisions; dolphins apparently get moody alone, so unless a friend can be found for Winter, her future is uncertain. However a young dolphin going by the appropriate name of Hope may well be able to save the day.
With loveable creatures like sea-turtles, pelicans and Morgan Freeman cheerleading from the sidelines, Dolphin Tale 2 is stuffed with family-friendly elements, making the lugubrious detours into Sawyer's abortive romance with Clay's daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) seem like sub-Nicholas Sparks padding.
Smith, whose Stone of Destiny made nonsense of Scottish independence issues, is on surer ground with the moral dilemmas facing Winter's friends. Parents will at least appreciate that this sequel attempts to stick close to known facts about dolphin behaviour and tries to avoid projecting human emotions onto the flippered stars. That said, Dolphin Tale 2 plays out in a fairly tedious way; there's a brief period in a child's development when they will actively seek new and serious drama, yet might still accept fare as bland as this.
General release from Fri 3 Oct.