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dolphins
Review by Ross Anthony

How can you not like a film about dolphins? Surfin' the waves, jettisoning into the air, squeakin', clickin', and clappin' those little fins. Who doesn't like dolphins?

Having always seemed to miss a "herd" of dolphins leaping in the distance off the coast of California, I looked forward to these playful water-dynamic mammals captured in the aquarium of the IMAX screen.

Primarily a documentary, the film visits several marine biologists (M.B.) in efforts to learn more about these friendly flippers. One M.B. studies the physics of the fin, but doesn't explore it in any great depth. Another M.B. attempts to decipher language and still another probes intelligence. One of the most fascinating theories is that that these animals confer before leaping. The implication: they discuss the matter under water then create a surface-splattering jumping display as a group.

But a segment with Dean Bernal who meets and swims with a wild bottlenose named JoJo on a daily basis stocks perhaps the warmest story. JoJo displaying an appreciation of their emotional bond had once protected Dean from an encroaching hammerhead.

The segments are twice segued with fantastic map animations. As if rolling in on the wing of a plane we zip into the map from above, cartoon ships putt-putt across the oceans and an occasional dolphin illustration breaks the surface of the sea. Then just when you've orientated yourself to the Bahamas, a hurricane peals the colorful map from the screen leaving the actual island in "plane view" ... very creative and very slick. The film could have used a couple three more such glossy transitions.

Fun Facts From the Film:

  • Efficient breathers, dolphins can hold their breath for eight minutes (yes, in a row.)
  • Dangers to dolphins include: sharks, tuna nets, and pollution. An actual clip of film shot on a tuna ship is included.
  • Their eyes move independently. (eye.E.: one can look up while the other down.) The film provides a nice visual portrayal of this ability by putting you in the driver's seat (so to speak).
  • Dolphins use echolocation to pinpoint hiding fishes under the sand. Depicted as a sort of heat x-ray, this is nicely explained in the visual also.
  • Dolphins sometimes bite - at least "dozens" of people have been bitten, so says the film.

Debatable Facts From the Film:

  • Dolphins are practically the only other species besides us that call each other by name. Hmmm once on a ranch in Montana, I heard sheep call each other by name (at least I though so). How would we know what other animals call themselves by name?
  • The film claims that bottlenose dolphins are the "most intelligent and therefore easiest to train." Really? A teacher I spoke with after the film said that some of the most intelligent kids are the hardest to train because they're too smart to ... (I don't know ...) balance a ball on their nose. But, anyway, smart or not, dolphins certainly seem like they'd make very good friends.

In fact, when a spiraling flipper zips out of the water directly toward a vertically suspended camera freeze framing the charmingest of smiles, like Porky Pig at the end of some cartoon, of course, you'll just want to reach out and shake its hand (er, ah, fin).

One of the film's freshest images captures a small group of dolphins taking turns munching on a school of anchovies (referred to as a baitball) from below while a flock of gulls peck at them from above.

I quite enjoyed the humans swimming a dance with the dolphins. The ocean-going leaps of small herds of dolphins also captivated me. But, I wanted more! More time, more dolphins, more close!

Pierce does a fine job of narration while Sting provides the music. Did you know his real name was Gordon Matthew Summer (Sting not Pierce)? So named for a black and yellow sweater he once wore at a performance (learned that from the press kit).

Overall, pleasant and fun, it'll keep a smile plastered on your face for the first five minutes, before it dips a bit into documentary pace. A few more map-equivalent transitions or Dolphin-leaping-into-the-cam shots would have clinched this cute film an A-.

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  • Dolphins. Copyright © 2000.
  • Narrated by Pierce Brosnan.
  • Included: Marin Biologist Kathleen Dudzinski, Alejandro Acevedo-Gutierrez, Bernd Wursig, Dr. Louis Herman, Dr. Terrie Williams, Dr. Randall Wells; Naturalist Dean Bernal.
  • Music of Sting.
  • Cinematographers Bob Talbot (underwater), Paul Atkins (wildlife).
  • Directed by Greg MacGillivray.
  • Written by Tim Cahill and Steve Judson.
  • Produced by Alec Lorimore, Greg MacGillivray at MacGillivrray Freeman.



Grade..........................B+


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Copyright © 1998-2012 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 21-Oct-2010 15:46:33 PDT