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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the educational documentary Dolphin Reef is about much more than just dolphins. Viewers will learn about the entire ecosystem of the Polynesian coral reef and the traits and behaviors of many of its creatures. A dolphin mother and her calf are the stars, and their tender relationship is both heartwarming and enlightening. A sequence in which the calf gets separated from his mother and pod and is lost for the night, facing dangers on his own, could potentially upset some viewers. Likewise, a scene in which a humpback whale mother and calf must escape a group of predator orcas is set to tense music. Narrator Natalie Portman explains the idiosyncrasies and beauty of this underwater cast of characters, reminding viewers at the end that "their world is our world."
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What's the story?
Echo is a 3-year-old bottlenose dolphin still learning survival skills from his mother, Kumu, in DOLPHIN REEF. She has much to teach him, despite his short attention span: Echo would rather play with the other sea creatures and balance a shell on his rostrum than follow his mother's lessons. But soon he'll learn how important those skills for survival are, especially one stormy night when he's separated from his pod. Echo's world, the Polynesian coral reef, is a deeply interconnected ecosystem where every creature plays a role in its functioning. As Echo grows up, he'll learn his own role and that of others.
Is it any good?
Outside of two key scenes of suspense, this is a remarkably soothing film. Chalk that up to the gentle narration of actress Natalie Portman, or to the sweet mother-calf pairs at the story's heart. Or maybe it's the calming blues of the ocean world complemented by the vivid colors of the coral reef and its inhabitants.
The main gist of the narration is the delicate balance of this underwater world, and captivating footage takes us right up close to witness creatures deep inside the sea and flying high above it for a bird's-eye view of the water's surface. If you've ever wondered how a film like Dolphin Reef gets made, stay for a short series of behind-the-scenes pictures and videos that accompany the closing credits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how dolphins are similar to humans, as we're told they are in Dolphin Reef.
Which underwater creature seemed the most menacing to you, and why?
Have you ever had an opportunity to see beneath the ocean with your own eyes? How and what did you see?
How did the filmmakers capture the images of so many creatures under and above the water?
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