The Orca whale has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. From the countless shows around the world featuring astounding tricks and an almost theatrical display of charisma, the image of this 'killer' whale is renowned, but why?
1993 saw the introduction of one of the most powerful and unarguably heartwarming relationships formed on-screen ever; the relationship between a 12 year old street kid named Jesse and a three-ton Orca whale kept captive in an amusement park. Said relationship can be seen on the Simon Wincer directed and Warner Brothers produced family flick, Free Willy.
Disregarding the disheartening news surrounding the unfortunate events at Seaworld, the image of Willy has been untainted for many years, and is seen through the eyes of children as somewhat of a hero. Keiko - the real Willy - starred in two sequels to the hit film - both of which are respectable enough to maintain the same aspects which rocketed the first into family film history. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003, but his image - and his legacy - lives on in what remains to this day as one of the most inspirational films available to all ages.
Street kid Jesse (Jason James Richter) is forced to clean the mess he created in a small amusement attraction. Unbeknownst to him, the attraction he vandalized belongs to a stubborn three-ton orca whale. The two create an unlikely bond, with Jesse successfully training the whale - which he then later calls Willy. Sadly, the park executives have other ideas. Jesse, aided by his newly-formed friends, attempt to set the whale free.
The companionship between the wonderfully cast Jesse (a rare find, if i do say so myself) and the affectionate whale is something most aspire to have. It's captivating, touching and, more importantly, believable. The story, whilst predictable and full of clichés, contains a strong, powerful message which is often so absent in family films nowadays.
The cliché-ridden story isn't as enthralling for adults as it is for children and the constantly broody Jesse may grate on your nerves.
"A well-made and entertaining children's film." - Philip Thomas, Empire
"The most rousing family adventure since E.T." - Bob Campbell, Newhouse News Service
"Pure magic. You will cheer!" - Joel Siegel, Good Morning America
Check below for a trailer for the family adventure!