After a few months delay, Disneynature’s DOLPHIN REEF is finally ready to set out into the big blue world on Disney+ next month!
Director Keith Scholey, who also helmed Disneynature’s BEARS, returns to the naturefilm genre once more with this absolutely beautiful entry. One of my favorite parts of films under the Disneynature banner are when filmmakers find ways to not just capture beautiful remote and exotic locations but to capture it all in ways we haven’t seen before that are truly awe-inspiring. Sweeping vistas, daring close-ups, a wide variety of techniques are used to bring this story to life in absolutely stunning ways.
Actress Natalie Portman narrates the tale of the adorable aquatic animals in what seems to be a trademark Disneynature style; friendly and approachable with warmth and humor expressed sparingly with slightly caricatured voices. Portman is personable and interesting while at the same time letting the visuals and stories on the screen take the main stage. You don’t remember that you’re listening to her talk and that’s exactly, oddly enough, entirely the goal.
As to be expected, dolphin’s take the main focus here (with top billing in the film’s title no less) and most specifically we explore the story of Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin, and his mother Kumu. As is typical for the format, footage compiled is heavily editorialized with stories crafted together into a cohesive narrative that introduces, builds up the drama, and comes to its expected happy conclusion.
Along the way, we take plenty of time to take in all of the visuals of the stunning coral reefs to learn about a lot of the other inhabitants that share the space and keep the functioning ecosystem thriving. From the mammals, fish, and bottom-feeders to the plants themselves you’ll get a really beautiful well-rounded look at this entire reef. Some of the highlights of the supporting cast include a hilarious peacock mantis shrimp characterized as the neat-freak neighbor, a curious bumphead parrotfish, a 40-foot humpback whale and her newborn calf, and, of course, the danger zone featuring a daring encounter with orcas.
Disneynature is a trusted brand and you know what you’re getting here. Scholey continues to carry the mantle of a noteworthy series of films with such an important focus of bringing the outside world into the safety and comfort of our screens.
DOLPHIN REEF debuts on Disney+ on April 3, 2020.