Dolphin Reef: A Trip to the Polynesian Islands

Dolphin Reef. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Dolphin Reef takes us on a journey to the Polynesian Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean as we follow a pair of Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

Echo is a three-year-old Pacific bottlenose dolphin.  He’s still young and has so much more to learn.  Much to the dismay of mother Kumu, he just wants to explore the coral reef and its inhabitants.  Like with any environment, there’s an ecosystem and everyone has their part.  Though I should warn you now to stay away from the cuttlefish.  They are absolute monsters.  Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you!

There’s something to say about the predators of the reef.  Where a dolphin might serve as a predator to some of the fish schools in the reef, orcas will also do their hunting.  Yes, this hunting also includes dolphins.  As such, it’s more important than ever to Kumu that Echo learns how to survive.  Echo is completely weaned off of his mom by this point but he’d rather have fun than learn the aforementioned lessons.  G-d forbid that he get lost because of being distracted by a whale.  In particular, a humpback whale and calf.  There are also the smaller–and in some cases, cuter–residents of the reef.  What happens then?  He only has one life and he must learn how to survive.  This isn’t stressed enough.

While Dolphin Reef is entertaining, it’s also educational.  Take this example, for instance.  Dolphins sleep with one eye open because of the potential for predators in the area.  They also use one half of their brain while sleeping.  They also–and this one is important–have to keep going to the surface in order to breathe.  According to the film, it’s referred to as “synchronized sleeping.”

In film’s opening minutes the score reminds me so much from what we saw in the Free Willy movies.  There’s something that’s just so majestic about seeing these creatures swimming in the ocean.  You never grow tired of seeing them.

Dolphin Reef is another hit in the making for Disneynature.  Thankfully, viewers are lucky enough to get not one but two films (Elephant being the second film) hitting Disney+ in time for Earth Day in late April.  It comes at such an important time, too.  Right now, people need the escapism now more than ever before.  The film also runs under 80 minutes in length.  This is just enough time to let Disney take you on a vacation!

DIRECTOR:  Keith Scholey
NARRATOR:  Natalie Portman

Disneynature releases Dolphin Reef on April 3, 2020 on Disney+. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.