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Blu-ray Reviewer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/3D Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Warner - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC/MVC
Video Aspect:
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Frances Sternhagen, Austin Stowell
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Music by: Mark Isham
Written by: Karen Janszen & Naom Dromi
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 20, 2011

"Inspired by the amazing true story of Winter"

Film Synopsis:

In an inspiring story of the bond between animals and humans, a boy named Sawyer discovers an injured dolphin, who is brought to a marine hospital and named Winter. Unfortunately, her injuries cost Winter her tail, without which she may not survive. But with Sawyer's devotion, a marine biologist's (Harry Connick Jr.) and the brilliance of a prosthetist (Morgan Freeman) charged with creating a new tail, Winter may receive a second chance at life.

My Take:

Dolphin tale is a dramatization based on the real story about a two month old Dolphin, later named “Winter”, that was found lying on the beach in 2005 after getting caught up in the rope of a crab trap off the Florida coast. She was hurt badly with the primary injury to her tail. She was taken to the nearby Clearwater Marine Hospital where she wasn’t expected to live. The film depicts this while focusing on a lonely, disconnected boy named Sawyer who is in need of a friend. After Winter is discovered on the beach Sawyer happens by and uses his pocket knife to cut the ropes binding her. For an instant they bond before the rescue personnel arrive. Later, curious to see how Winter is doing, Sawyer visits the marine hospital where the staff is having trouble getting her to eat. When she hears Sawyer’s voice she responds and it becomes evident that Sawyer and Winter share a bond. Sawyer is taken in by the staff and becomes a staple at the hospital with special attention given to Winter’s care. She eventually loses her tail which becomes a potentially life threatening situation. Inspired by someone close to him who is in need of a prosthetic device Sawyer comes up with the idea of doing the same for Winter. He enlists the aid of Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a prosthetist, and with the help of his family and new found friends rally’s the small community around the wondrous little Dolphin no one thought would survive.

I am generally drawn to films based upon real people/events and while I didn’t catch Dolphin Tale while it was in theaters I had heard good things about it and looked forward to seeing it. I watched it with my wife and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The script is conventional and the adult characters are a bit analogous but within the context of plot which really revolves around the relationship between Winter and Sawyer it works. I’m nitpicking really because I found Dolphin tale to be an inspirational and touching film based upon a truly amazing human interest story. The film was shot on location at the Clearwater Marine Hospital with Winter portraying herself. This added a wonderfully genuine element to the film. The cache of actors featured in the film enhanced that genuineness, especially young Nathan Gamble. Learning a little more about Winter, her incredible story and how it continues to inspire others is amazing. Dolphin Tale isn’t a perfect film but it shares this evocative true story in a respectful, gratifying and heartwarming way that makes for pitch perfect family entertainment.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for mild thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 82

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

3D Presentation: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Depth (Onscreen):

  • Dimension (Beyond the screen):

  • Realism:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Color reproduction:

Dolphin tale 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.9 Mbps.

So far I have been satisfied with what I have seen of the natively shot 3D offerings that have come to Blu-ray and Dolphin tale is no exception. Detail is well preserved as the image retains its high level of clarity as objects within the frame are delineated and sharp. Depth is appreciable as evidenced by the notable separation of objects or people layered in the foreground/background which serves to naturally draw you in by creating a discernible sense of virtual space occupied by things of various sizes and shapes. There are a variety of sequences that provide a fun reach out and touch sense of dimensionality. Comparing color and fleshtone reproduction to the 2D presentation I saw no discernible difference. The rendering of detail and clarity is similar although I would give the slightest edge for all around visual pop to the 3D version. I didn’t notice any signs of crosstalk/ghosting. Overall I found this to be a excellent 3D experience that enhanced the enjoyment of the film.

The front heavy lossless surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices are rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for surround activity and extended dynamics however there are a few instances that provide an appreciable level of spatial envelopment accompanied by a punchy low end.

2D Video Quality:

Video: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Dolphin tale comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps.

This is a strong video presentation that is reflective of the type associated with newer release films on Blu-ray Disc. Colors appear accurate with well delineated primaries and deep textures. Skin tones are warm but natural in appearance. Images are rendered with excellent visual penetration, resolute sharpness and defining detail that is particularly striking during brighter sequences. Blacks are nice and deep with appreciable visibility in uneven light and shadows. Contrast is boldly applied which mildly overdrove whites but not to a deleterious degree. The video has a filmic and pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: 3D Blu-ray

    Disc 2: 2D Blu-ray – plus the following bonus features:

  • (HD) The Hutash’s Rainbow Bridge – 2 minute animated story

  • At home with Winter – 13 minute production featurette

  • (HD) Dolphin tale: Spotlight on a scene – Opening segment

  • (HD) Winter’s inspiration – 18 minute documentary

  • Ormie and the cookie jar – 4 minute original animated short

  • (HD) Deleted scene: “Winter meets Panama”

  • (HD) Gag reel – 3 minutes

  • Bonus DVD of Dolphin tale

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the inspirational true story of Winter the Dolphin Dolphin tale is an uplifting and moving drama that is sure to touch your heart. It comes to Blu-ray Disc in both a three disc 3D edition and standard two disc edition. You can’t go wrong either way as the high definition video quality and 3D viewing experience at excellent. The supplied bonus material takes a thoughtful look behind the scenes as well as providing lots of insights/footage on Winter and the people caring for her. This is a rewarding film and Blu-ray offering that is well worth checking out.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

190 Posts
Thanks Ralph

I did a blind pre order on this one a week or so ago, i just got 3D at home, so im trying to get some good deals on movies, and some that arent just animated, your review made me feel better about the blind buy

1,190 Posts
Great review and write up!

Was so hoping to see this when it first came out but time didn't allow. Saw the trailer and it looked really good. I've seen many movies with Judd and Morgan and they never disappoint. Gotta get this one.

27 Posts

Originally Posted by Ralph Potts /forum/post/21341556

I watched it with my wife and we thoroughly it.

I'm assuming this sentence should have an additional, positive, word in it?

Thanks for the review Ralph, this is one I really wanted to take the kids to see in the theater and didn't get the chance. Good to hear that it's worth checking out!

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,083 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Originally Posted by Dromio /forum/post/21356162

I'm assuming this sentence should have an additional, positive, word in it?

Thanks for the review Ralph, this is one I really wanted to take the kids to see in the theater and didn't get the chance. Good to hear that it's worth checking out!


You're right. Corrected..

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