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Soundtrack review: Dolphin Tale 2 (Rachel Portman, 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Dolphin Tale 2 (Rachel Portman, 2014)


Dolphin Tale 2 is a family movie set at a marine animals hospital and, just like the first film, tells the tale of a rescued dolphin. The film is based on real events that happened at that aquarium.  It’s scored by Rachel Portman, who took over from Mark Isham who wrote the score of the first movie.
A movie like this, emotional, tender, with dolphins, with a lot of underwater scenes, is, like the composer herself said, a very fertile land for beautiful and rich music, for dramatic pieces and also for light feel good music.
Rachel Portman delivered all that, and then some. This is truly a beautiful score. It flows easily and naturally, it’s a joy to listen to. When I listen to it (without having seen the movie) I think of ice dancing shows…of the way the skaters just glade endlessly on the ice, of that kind of lightness and grace. It is an album that definitely puts me in a good mood.
I like the way it starts, with “Reconciliation ballet”, because it sets the tone for the entire score. If you like that opening cue and the sweeping theme it introduces, you’ll love the entire score. I was actually surprised to find such a well-defined theme in this score. It comes back at the end of the score to close the circle, and it works fine. “Mandy’s rescue”, “Morning show/Mavis’s release” and “Bethany swims with Winter/Crow’s nest/Everything’s OK now” are also dreamy, tender pieces of music that go way above the lightness I was expecting from this soundtrack. The filler songs, breezy as they are, work well and I didn’t feel the need to skip any of them upon the first listening of this score.
The mood changes with “Hope’s arrival”. The more dramatic and tense part of the score starts, and “1stpairing“ and “Putting on tail” are my favorite tracks from “Dolphin Tale 2”. The former is one great action cue, intense, frantic and the latter is tense and serious. Once the danger is gone, triumph comes in the form of “They’re accepting” and “I’ll come back/Hazel on the roof”. The music is upbeat and rich.
For a light music score, this one is above average. It’s a beautiful orchestral score, easy when it has to, tender when it needs to reach somewhere, tense when the moments ask and beautifully wide when there’s enough place for that. It takes the listener through the emotions of the movie like a gentle guide, never interfering, never being too demanding and never asking for a big effort from him. It’s a Sunday of a score, and is well worth a listen.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 75 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 49
Album excellence: 52%

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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