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“Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove” - {Blu-Ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, pop up trivia track


Tillikum’s killing of Dawn Bracheau a trainer at Seaworld in Florida makes the best argument for freeing Willy. It also makes the best argument against anthropomorphizing animals. They aren’t like us. They never will be. Putting them in pens for our entertainment may help us learn about them in some obscure small way (that they can be trained for example to respond by feeding them with fish for example)but, in reality, it tells us far more about US. How we choose to entertain ourselves and how we justify those decisions sometimes end in tragic results. A killer whale acting out while being kept imprisoned (regardless of whether it was born into captivity or not) isn’t any less tragic but probably could have been avoided if we stopped treating animals as our own personal revenue generating amusement park. My thoughts go out to the family of Ms. Bracheau and, perhaps, this tragedy will bring to light that animals will act out because they are programmed NOT to live trapped in pens just as humans will act out when they are put into prisons returning to their most base instincts. Let’s stop training these majestic animals to do stupid pet tricks. ***

Which brings us to “Free Wily”. I thought he had already been freed (twice no less)but as long as movies do well studios will continue to make sequels and we’ll never be free of less than mediocre films designed to be virtual babysitters while mom and dad make whoopee. Please someone put together a good TV series for Beau Bridges to star in. He’s a talented often brilliant performer who has been forced to appear in crap like this film that tries to marry this whale of a tale to pirates. Yes, pirates and treasure (no, I’m just kidding about the treasure) but luckily there are no eye patches and Johnny Depp has elected to skip this pirate tale. There aren’t any REAL pirates in this film. Let’s just say they are window dressing to entice kids while the “Free Willy” part is designed to entice parents (after all most kids won’t remember “Free Willy” since it’s probably before they were born). You can almost hear the pitch—combine “Free Willy” with pirates and get multigenerational reach! Bindi Irwin appears in this too. Who? She’s the daughter of the late TV star Steve Irwin. It doesn’t matter she’s underage and doesn’t know any better but her agent should probably be flogged for letting her jump into the deep end of this poorly thought out dead man’s tale. ***

Kirra (Irwin) has a great love (naturally) for animals. Her widowed father is injured forcing her to live with her grumpy grandfather Gus (Beau Bridges) in South Africa where it’s cheaper to shoot poorly thought out shot on the cheap sequels than anywhere else. Gus owns a run down theme park which fortune smiles on when a baby orca named Willy (naturally she selects that name…would Free Greg have as much appeal?). It seems Willy has a poor sense of direction—he has never developed his ability at echolocation making his survival in the wild unlikely. A rival theme park owner has an interest in Willy and Gus thinks that he’ll have to sell the orca and put him in permanent captivity forever. ---

Image & Sound:

“Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cover” looks remarkably good. It was shot digitally which translates to a sharp looking transfer with accurate colors here. It’s a very nice presentation. There are some noticeable compression artifacts that pop up now and again but other than that this looks pretty nice. ***

Audio sounds quite strong with a nice 5.1 presentation that really comes alive during action sequences. ---

Special Features:

Willy: Greetings from South Africa · Bindi Irwin and Willy invite all to "meet my wild costars" · Bindi's first movie video diary · Deleted scenes · Outtakes · HD exclusive content includes “Free Willy” pop-up trivia track. ---

Final Words:

Words: Free Willy please! While you’re at it give them a life time pass to any amusement parks that way they can come and go as they please. Seriously, we need to stop films like this from being made before it turns our brains into oatmeal. ***

Wild animals shouldn't live in captivity. Parent's shouldn't force captive children to watch this. End of story. Avoid.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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