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Willy the whale is back, this time threatened by illegal whalers making money off sushi. Jesse, now 16 years old, has taken a job on an orca-researching ship, along with old friend Randolph and a sarcastic scientist, Drew. On the whaler's ship is captain John Wesley and his 10-year-old son, Max, who isn't really pleased about his father's job, but doesn't have the gut to say so. Along the way, Willy reunites with Jesse, who helps Max realize that whales are a little more than just cheese burgers.Written by
This movie is quite an oddity. It's the only one in the series to not be shot in anamorphic Panavision, the only one to not have a score by Basil Poledouris, the only one to not have a Michael Jackson song (thank you!), the only one to not feature the meanest of the Reservoir Dogs, the only one to not be shot in Astoria, Oregon, the only one to make absolutely zero money at the box office, and the only one to come in at less than 90 minutes.
Oddly enough, I liked this one the best.
Jesse, now an independent adult, is working exclusively in whales now (whatever that means) and is overjoyed to find that Willy has come back again, with a now pregnant mate. But this time we actually have a real bad guy (who is given real development) in the form of Patrick Kilpatrick, he who has played the dangerous henchmen in a zillion movies from Eraser to Last Man Standing as well as being the mercenary who unwisely questioned Penn's leadership in Under Siege 2. He plays a whaler, with an adoring son and wife, who murders one of Willy's pod and sights his sights on harpooning the rest of them. "Whales were put here by God for us to hunt," he proclaims, attempting to brainwash his sceptical son.
The kid soon befriends Jesse (or is it a teenage David Hasselhoff? I can't tell) and learns what whales are really all about. Can he convince his bloodthirsty dad though? It's the best conflict in all of the movies and it has a quiet, dreamy tone that is radically different from the other two. It seems that, at this point, Warner/Regency were just letting the director do whatever he wanted, and thus Free Willy 3 feels more like a director's movie than a cash-in or something assembled by a committee.
It's mad that the first movie did such huge business, only for the better sequel to barely make back its budget, then this third entry, the best of the series, barely makes it past the impossibly low $3 million mark. I can't explain it, but this easily wins hands-down.
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