Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove (2010) - DVD/Digital Copy Combo Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Family / Fantasy
Warner Premiere || PG - 101 minutes - $35.99 || March 23, 2010
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2010-04-05

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Will Geiger
Writer(s): Cindy McCreery (story), Will Geiger (screenplay)
Cast: Bindi Irwin, Beau Bridges

Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Pop-Up Trivia Track
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

When I heard the announcement, I was a bit surprised to even find out Warner had not previously been issuing Free Willy flicks to DTV for the past few years. The three films all did pretty well at the box office, and it seemed a bit odd not to get a few DTV flicks churned out for some additional income. But regardless, Escape from Pirateís Cove seems to be a reboot for the series (nothing no '4' or 'IV' - seems really common in the past year with films like The Final Destination and Fast and Furious) and if so, it's off to a decent (for a DTV at least) start.

Young Kira (BINDI IRWIN) leaves her Australian home to summer with her grandfather (BEAU BRIDGES) in South Africa after her father suffers an accident. Soon she discovers a baby orc stranded in the lagoon near her grandfather's rundown seaside amusement park. She names her new friend Willy - and embarks on a great quest to lead the whale back to his pod before her grandfather's greedy rival turns Willy into a monkey-making attraction at his slick theme park.

Since this is a film for kids, throw all logic away. Why someone would open up a theme park in South Africa (there are apparently two within 5 miles of each other; huh?) is beyond me, but in the movie it gives Kirra a place to live and have some sort of adventure in for 10 minutes. Her mean grandfather eventually turns into the hero and Willy is once again set free. Oh, and toss in a cute 'almost talking' animal like a Penguin and you have yourself a recipe for DTV success. Plot-wise, everything is wrapped up nice and neatly within the allotted running time and even gives a little leeway for a potential sequel.

Bindi is the real shining star here, who takes her first real acting role to heart and brings a good performance to the film. She potentially has a nice little future in the business if she play's her cards right. The rest of the cast... well, they got paid. Beau Bridges does not seem all that thrilled to be starring in a kidís DTV film, but he plays his mean/comical role well. The few other cast members have very limited parts, some only a few lines of dialog.


Pop-up Fun Track ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

On the Set (8 Minutes; HD) is a short behind the scenes featurette with some interviews from the cast.

Meet My Wild Co-Stars (3 Minutes; HD) has little Bindi talking about all the lovable animals in the film.

Rounding out the disc is two Deleted Scenes (2 Minutes; HD); an Outtake Reel (2 Minutes; HD) and a Movie Diary (4 Minutes; SD) with Bindi!

For a limited time, the Blu-ray will be housed in a Slip Cover with a bonus DVD/Digital Copy combo disc inside.


Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove is presented in 1.78:1 (VC1) on a 25GB Disc. Since the film went directly to DVD and Blu-ray, quality tends to suffer a bit (lower budget and all). Everything looks pretty average, from the sets, to Willy, to the transfer. Warner seems to have improved a bit though from some previous DTV Blu-ray flicks I've reviewed and the quality is much nicer compared to the included DVD.

Warner has included a lossless English 5.1 DTS MA Track. First off, kudos for Warner for sticking a lossless track on this release, they've been pretty wishy-washy on DTV flicks before, so I'm glad they went lossless. Dialog sounds fine, and rears are used throughout the film for some of the 'effects' (birds chirping, Willy in the water etc.). It's a DTV flick, what more could you want?


I'm a little surprised Warner didn't release the original Free Willy movies along with this, but maybe they are saving that for a little bit down the road. Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove is a decent film for kids under 12 - likely the same ones who enjoy Bindi/Hannah Montana type stuff. Thankfully even adults could to some extent enjoy the flick as well as it's not too kiddy.