Back for more? Outstanding. With this level of fine, highbrow journalistic content, I’ve no idea why I’m still doing this for free. If you’ve arrived at this page randomly, well done, you’re reading the crazed ramblings of a man spending his day watching all four Free Willy films. Two to go. This page will cover my exploits with Free Willy 3: The Rescue and Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove.
Let’s get back in the water!!!
Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997, Sam Pillsbury)
00:00:07: WB logo. Congratulations to you if you’ve seen anything else from Sam Pillsbury’s imdb page. You get all of the points.
00:00:53: Water and a whale. None of Dwight Little’s misleading trees-and-birds bullshit.
00:01:49: New kid? Looks young and annoying. But possibly law-abiding.
00:02:36: Oh…. it becomes apparent that the copy of Free Willy 3 I’ve acquired is dubbed into Spanish. Checked and I do not have the option for subtitles in English or the original audio. I am not fluent in Spanish. To put it mildly. I only know a few odd phrases and a lot of those are to do with cowboys for some reason. Nevertheless I have made the executive decision to keep going. I’m going to put Pillsbury’s film through its paces – can it be understood and appreciated on a universal level?
00:03:51: Jesse. Now driving a van. Assuming it’s stolen.
00:04:25: A bunch of people by a yacht are possibly arguing over a pizza? The language barrier here is going to be quite a curve ball I think… Although “Pizza Express” are getting some good placement. Only words I’m recognising.
00:05:09: Randolph is on the yacht. Now they’re all going out on a lake. Not sure what’s going on but I have a theory it’s going to involve whales. AND THIS IS DEFINITELY A LAKE. HOW HAVE WHALES ENDED UP HERE…
00:06:51: Film three appears to be set somewhere very different. Credits suggest Jesse has abandoned his foster family which means no more Michael Madsen owning the art of wooden line delivery. Not that I’d understand him, even if he was in this one.
00:08:22: Recognising a lot of these actors from TV shows shot in and around Vancouver. May as well just have credits saying “featuring people you saw once in The X-Files!” and have done with it.
00:09:21: Even in Spanish, that harmonica’s fucking annoying.
00:10:10: Pretty sure Jesse and Curly Auburn Haired Lady are searching for Willy. Elsewhere New Kid is also on the water listening for whales, but it looks like his family are more interested in killing the fuck out of things.
00:12:06: Stock footage of whales. Stirring music.
00:13:56: New Kid’s family are whale hunting. It’s sad. The whale footage is clearly taken along a coastline, while the boat is clearly on a lake. New Kid looks conflicted about killing the whales. I can tell because he’s frowning and swinging around and saying, “Papa?”
00:14:53: Haha, New Kid fell over the side! Apparently “Man overboard!” is the same in any language…He’s met a whale underwater. Music’s gotten a bit rapturous.
00:17:51: I think New Kid is called Max. He’s fine, by the way, and he’s been given a whale tooth necklace. Now the whale he met is squeaking at him from beside the boat, showing a blatant disregard for his own safety seeing as it’s a whaling vessel. It’s a bit like mooning at the cartel right after you’ve ripped them off.
00:19:07: Max is hanging upside down from the – what do you call it? I’m also shit at boat terminology – landing? Deck! Hanging upside down over the side of the deck. Fucking “landing”. “Meet me on the boat landing”. As if.
00:19:40: Now he’s having a chat with Willy. They’re both the right way up now. He’s thrown a ball at Willy’s head. It bounced off. Willy looked non-plussed by this. Would you throw things at the faces of your new friends? Explains why this kid’s apparently quite a loner. Willy sensibly buggered off. Just as well because all of the adult whalers just showed up on the boat landing.
00:22:47: Lots of Spanish chatting.
00:24:20: Willy’s at Jesse’s boat now. Presumably then, the ‘rescue’ of the title is the rescue of Max from his shitty whaling family? Willy has a plan, I’m guessing. Everybody follow the Willy!
00:26:29: Not being able to understand what people are saying 95% of the time is making this a bit of a tough experience, especially considering, if I’m honest, I wasn’t all that invested to begin with and this doesn’t seem to be exceptional filmmaking. Competent enough for TV? Definitely. On the plus side, it comes in at a svelte 82 minutes, so I’m already like a third of the way.
00:28:23: Randolph is throwing Willy some oranges to eat. Is this a dietary requirement for whales? I’m dubious.
00:29:23: Now they’re using a strange contraption to read Willy’s mind. Everyone’s laughing so I’m assuming Willy thought of a really good joke.
00:31:31: Who takes their kid whale hunting anyway?
00:32:39: I think that bit translated as “Quick, there’s another boat, lets take apart our giant fucking harpoon canon!”
00:35:00: What am I doing with my life?
00:36:21: There’s that somewhat famous breakdown of communication, isn’t there? Something along the lines of 70% of communication is body language, 20% is tone of voice and only 10% is what’s actually being said. Free Willy 3 may defy this notion. The basic plot points are clear. Mainly because, well, what else is going to happen? But what people are actually expressing to one another? No clue.
00:40:17: Jesse is trespassing (surprise, surprise) and he’s met Max. It’s a shit-hair-off. I *think* they’re discussing X-Men. And Randolph. Jesse ran away when Captain Moustache (Max’s dad?) turned up.
00:44:33: Jesse and Max have had a long chat and now they’re out on the lake in a dinghy. If Jesse whips his harmonica out I might just skip right to film four.
00:45:28: Inexplicable insert shot of a waterfall. Not seen a waterfall before. Not sure we’ll see it again.
00:46:19: Willy’s trying to capsize the dinghy, evidencing a natural and wise hatred of children. Time for Jesse to jump in the water and fondle Willy’s head. Max wants a go.
00:47:52: Slow motion whale riding.
00:50:47: Randolph’s scenes are easy to comprehend because basically all he says is “Jesse”.
00:53:01: Spanish boat fiddling.
00:55:00: Jesse’s breaking into places again. Randolph is listening in. It’s all gone a bit 24 again. As much as the third film in a franchise of children’s movies about friendly whales can do.
00:55:55: Oooh, a bar fight! It’s Randolph vs Captain Moustache. Resolved quickly and disappointingly and in Spanish. This is what I get for an 80’s/90’s UK education; no fucking clue what people from a nearby country are saying. Yeah, I could learn off of my own back, and I’m lazy for not having done so, probably. But when there are franchises like Free Willy out there, who has the time?
00:58:42: I think Jesse just tried to commit arson and frame Max (?) – sounds like the kind of outlawish thing he’d do.
00:59:49: Seriously, all of the actors sitting around this bar table look like they’re waiting for The X-Files to call again. “Which episode were you in?” “Oh I was in the invisible soldier episode.” “Oh yeah, I was the guy with the fake alien corpse up in a mountain.” “Oh, I liked that one!” “I was the mum of a weird child with powers.” “I led a SWAT team once.” “Nobody cares.”
01:02:49: Captain Moustache is taking Max whale hunting in some unconvincing and counterintuitive mist. Still, there’s only about quarter of an hour left so I’m sure this is all heading somewhere, despite virtually no evidence.
01:05:39: Mist and serious music.
01:16:25: Max just ditched himself in the misty lake to stop his dad harpooning a whale. Kid’s got spirit, but they’ve already saved him by the time I got to write this bit down, so I imagine they’ll be back to whale hunting by the time I’ve finished this sentence.
01:08:48: Boat crash! Captain Moustache got hit overboard by a big load of nets! Stuff looks like it might snap! Willy’s fighting with Captain Moustache! It’s like that bit at the end of Fast & Furious 7 where Vin Diesel and Jason Statham have a go at each other with inexplicable giant spanners, only not really.
01:10:29: Through a very convenient set of events Captain Moustache has found himself trapped in a net underwater. But Willy is rescuing him. OH THE IRONY. I’m fairly certain this film is pretty bad.
01:12:11: Is it worth hoping for ten minutes of credits?
01:31:21: Spanish family bonding.
01:15:00: A bit of divers swimming with whales tacked on to disguise that this film came in way short of an acceptable feature running time?
01:16:08: Oh, it’s a birthing scene! See. Had no idea that was going on. Aw, cute little Willy.
01:18:48: Credits. Well, that was an experience.
Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove (2010, Will Geiger)
Yup, we jump from 1997 to 2010. Clearly there was a meeting about how this franchise still had unfinished business. Something that needed to be said. And a public waiting to find out what that was.
00:00:21: Off we go again then, with the return everyone was waiting for. Credits advise Beau Bridges is in this, and also, from the font type, that it’s an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Rousing music and stock footage of whales, obviously.
00:01:48: A vet’s surgery, and the English language. A vet has a child assistant, again, obviously. There’s a cute deer on the examination table. A deer with a cold.
00:02:17: Blimey! All sorts is happening! Now there’s a pelican on a child’s back. A pelican. On a child’s back. Welcome to the future, Free Willy.
00:02:55: The little girl from the vet’s surgery is now in a barn playing a tuba. This is, I’m just going to put it out there already, a bit weird. Her dad the vet just fell off of some hay and hit himself in the balls with a winch. These are really things that are happening.
00:03:58: Dad’s now in the hospital with blue balls. The girl, who sounds Australian, is called Kirra, is a terrible actress, and evidently the new lead, which might make a nice change. She’s being shipped off to South Africa because reasons.
00:05:46: Hey Beau. He’s playing poker. Badly.
00:06:52: A montage of South African things. Mainly poverty and football.
00:07:47: Kirra arrives at a pirate themed, err, abode. I can’t tell if it’s a failed business or just someone’s messy flat.
00:09:48: Beau is her drunken, irresponsible grandfather. He has a pet penguin called Englebert. They exercise together. I swear I’m not making any of this up.
00:12:00: There are jigsaw puzzles everywhere. Kirra is ungrateful for her present from her grandfather – a scary pink rabbit – advising him she isn’t six anymore, which is exactly the age I would’ve guessed she is. Maybe she’s nine or something, I dunno.
00:15:01: Kirra is discovering that Pirate Cove is a shoddy coastal theme park which people hate. Mansa and Sifiso also work at the park. I could describe what’s happening now, but it’s simply inane.
00:19:27: Backstory in a broken down car. Beau and Kirra are beginning to bond.
00:20:50: Here comes a rival businessman in a red sports car. He advises Kirra she has some of her grandfather’s spunk. No comment.
00:21:43: Cut to a horse going mad in a storm. Obvs.
0022:05: CGI whales. Oh my. The quality is… exactly as you’d expect. They’re having a tough time in a storm. One of them just got swept away. I don’t think this story has any connection to the other three films at all.
00:24:49: It’s morning. The Pirate Cove has been trashed by the storm, but there’s a whale in it, so now they have an actual attraction. Kirra and Sifiso are trying to keep Beau Bridges from seeing the whale. Engelbert the penguin is stealing the show.
00:28:55: Beau Bridges is very happy to have a whale. He sounds so much like Jeff, it’s kind of adorable! He’s erected the shoddiest fence in the world to keep the whale trapped. Kirra knows a convenient Wikipedia-esque amount of information about orca whales.
00:31:09: Kirra names the orca Willy. Beau gets his Willy attraction up and running.
00:32:56: Time for a hip-hop painting montage. With dancing. And there’s nothing like a South African man drumming on a wooden cut-out of a wave with two orange screwdrivers. Again, obvs.
00:37:02: OUCH, MY EARS. Here’s hoping Kirra never squeals with delight again.
00:38:00: Now a scene of Beau Bridges having difficulty setting up a PC.
00:39:17: Mr Business Man offers Beau Bridges 500k for his Willy, but it’s not for sale.
00:41:25: “Willy is getting bigger and bigger”
I’M AN ADULT, REMEMBER.
00:42:42: The marine biologists have finally showed up with a significant amount of exposition in their back pockets. Pay attention during this scene, children.
00:44:00: I’ll give this film one thing. No harmonica yet.
00:48:08: Beau Bridges and Kirra are bonding. He’s called Gus. Or Grandpa. Feelings are super sensitive in this part of the movie. This one seems more fun than film three for whatever that’s worth. Although occasionally it makes as much sense as the one I watched all in Spanish.
00:49:45: I think Kirra’s a bit too young to be touching Willy like that.
00:50:31: What are you doing right now? Because I’m looking at this:
00:51:36: Bad Mr Business Man has two plans to make Willy sick. One is to feed him fish that have been swimming in anti-freeze, the other is to inject him with the re-animating fluid from Re-Animator.
00:53:16: Willy is smashing up a pier to foil the plans of Bad Mr Business Man’s henchmen… yet he can’t summon the strength or determination to vault a shitty little fence…
00:54:40: Bad Mr Business Man is a model plane enthusiast. Gus has gone to yell at him for agitating his Willy.
00:57:22: Is Kirra teaching a whale to use a telephone…?
00:59:02: More human-whale bonding. And Beau Bridges’ copious belly.
01:00:50: Kirra’s got Willy wearing some sort of improbable head-scarf. It looks like a whale with cancer. A CGI whale with cancer.
01:01:35: HOW IS THERE STILL FORTY MINUTES OF THIS ONE?
01:02:59: Oh, the scarf was a blindfold. What the actual shit are they playing at??
01:06:06: Gus has agreed that if Kirra can find Willy’s pod, he’ll let her set him free. Now they’re recording the sounds made by Willy and there’s some whiny music going on. If ever there was a time-killing montage in a Free Willy film, it’s now.
01:07:35: I’ll be honest. It’s been a long day of this now. I started early today under the apparently wise assumption that watching four Free Willy films shouldn’t be the only thing I do this Sunday. And at this stage the last thing film four needs to do is dawdle. Like now, for instance, why is there a giraffe in this movie??
01:09:32: Opera, unexpectedly. Also zebras. Emus. Ostriches. Bongos. Basically any fucking thing this film fancies. And a bit of pleasantly off-the-cuff-seeming South African linguistic history.
01:11:18: Gus is having second thoughts about signing his Willy away… But he’s done the deed.
01:13:00: Kirra is pretty upset over Gus flogging Willy. “But who’s going to love him??”
01:14:43: Kirra correctly advises Willy that he can’t have ice cream.
01:16:01: Willy’s pod have found him. Cue an excited kid jumping up and down loudly and Beau Bridges looking like he’s trying not to break his neck climbing over boulders on some sea defenses.
01:19:24: The kids are sneaking around somewhere now. I’ll be honest, I’ve dropped the ball on what’s happening somewhat through utterly failing to care. Oh, they’re stealing a whale transportation truck. They’re driving an HGV. While being 11.
01:20:34: How has nobody died immediately?
01:21:02: AHHHHHHHHH, SHE SHRIEKED AGAIN. MY GODDAMN EARS.
01:21:45: They’re really doing this. They’re really hanging a major plot point on two 11-year-olds being capable of driving an HGV some distance without having an accident or being spotted at all. THEY CAN’T EVEN REACH THE PEDDLES. HOW IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING?
01:23:04: They arrive at their destination, some miles away, and NOBODY COMMENTS ON HOW THEY DROVE AN HGV THERE.
01:25:15: So now, in apparently only minutes, Gus and Mansa have built a fake whale to confuse Bad Mr Business Man who is shouting, “I want Willy because I bought Willy!… Tell me one thing; is Willy here, or shall I call the police!”
01:27:43: Okay, the scene in which they attempted to fool Bad Mr Business Man with a fake whale while another guy came over to complain about an incomplete crazy golf course was kind of beautiful in a bizarre “is this really happening?” way.
01:30:03: Seriously, what am I doing with my life?
01:31:28: Plenty of single tear action going on as they transport Willy by boat to, err, the sea that they’re already in? Just put him in the water already. The puppet Willy looks nothing like the real things.
01:33:48: Kirra kisses Willy goodbye. Right on the eye. Who kisses anyone on the eye? Even Willy made a noise like “what the fuck was that?”
01:35:01: I think I’m happier that Engelbert gets a goodbye too. Or maybe its just that, really, this is all over. Four films. Four evidently necessary films. I note with a touch of sadness that this last reboot hasn’t yet triggered further installments, but hey, with 13 years between movies, we’ve still got plenty of time to hope. How sincere am I being? Not a bit.
01:37:04: Bye-bye South Africa. Bye-bye Willy and your big CG Willy pod.
Hopefully more worthwhile content will resume later in the week.