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Disneynature’s ‘Dolphin Reef’ is an Insightful Journey Into Ocean Wildlife – Review

The latest Disneynature documentary takes viewers into the depths of the sea. With colourful coral reefs and lively oceanic creatures, Dolphin Reef follows the adventures of a young bottlenose dolphin named Echo and his pod. Following the adventures of the dolphin and his family, viewers learn about their habits and also the ways of other creatures that the dolphins often encounter. Throughout the film, we watch Echo as he learns various lessons along the reef. 

Narrated by Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, Dolphin Reef is a film perfect for nature lovers and the entire family. It is a fun learning experience for all and one that is certainly never boring. With fun, mayhem and even a few unnerving moments, the film is one that shows what the oceans can be like when they’re undisturbed by the presence of humans. While the main focus of the film is Echo and his pod, viewers also learn about the humpback whale, orcas, mantis shrimp, reef sharks, cuttlefish and more. The documentary shows the parts that each of these creatures play in their habitat and how they influence one another, while helping to keep the ocean and coral reef clean. 

Bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Reef (Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios)

Throughout the entirety of the film, Portman’s narration is stellar. Portman perfectly describes the importance of the interconnectedness of this underwater ecosystem. Whether talking about Echo’s exploration or the mantis shrimp and the powerful punch it packs, every word was delivered with poignancy. This intensity really drives home the gravity of each scene that’s playing out on the screen. 

My only true critique of the film is that there wasn’t as much dolphin content as I was expecting. While we do keep an eye on Echo, his mother Kumu and the rest of the pod, the majority of the film is really spent on the other creatures that the dolphins share their home with. While I was expecting the film to be more Echo-focused, at times, the dolphins’ compatriots were the ones who stole the show. 

That being said, that is a minute detail in comparison to the overall film. As fun as it is informative, Dolphin Reef is also beautiful to watch. Each shot shows the complexities and intricacies of the coral reef ecosystem, and all the vibrancy within it. It was completely immersive and as a viewer, I can honestly say it felt as though I was underwater too, swimming alongside all of the marine wildlife. The visuals, story, and narration make for a thrilling tale that I wouldn’t mind watching again. 

Directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill, Dolphin Reef is now streaming on Disney+!

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