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
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
- 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
- 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,
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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