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WSR Detailed DVD Review
Free Willy
10th Anniversary Special Edition
Genre: Family

Reviewed In Issue 70 (Mar 2003) Of Widescreen Review®

Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Jayne Atkinson, August Schellenberg, Michael Madsen & Keiko

WSR Review Scores
WSR Picture Rating: 3.5
DD Sound Rating: 3.5
DTS Sound Rating: NA
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Reference Systems
Critics' Composite Score: 4
Internet Links
Special Features
Includes a six-minute conversation with wildlife photographer Bob Talbot, an interactive animated whale diagram which teaches you more about Orcas, an Escape The Nets game, Michael Jackson

 DVD General Information

(Studio/Distributor): Warner Home Video
(Catalog Number): 24159
(MPAA Rating): PG
(Rating Reason):

Mild language
(Retail Price): $19.98
(DVD Type): Single Side, Dual Layer (DVD9)
(Widescreen Edition): Yes
(Full Screen Edition): No
(Anamorphic Widescreen): Yes
(Running Time In Minutes): 112
(Color Type): Color
(Chaptered/Scene Access): Yes
(Closed Captioned): Yes
(Regional Coding): 1
(Theatrical Year): 1993
(Theatrical Release): Yes
(Direct-To-Video Release): No
(DVD Release Date): 01/28/03
(THX® Digitally Mastered): No

 Credits Information

(Director): Simon Wincer
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  DVD Picture Information

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  DVD Sound Information

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  WSR Narrative Review
Story Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Jesse (Richter) is a troubled youth faced with the hard adjustment to new foster parents. When he breaks in and defaces a whale tank at an aquatic park, an unexpected encounter occurs. Jesse befriends a confined Orca named Willy, and when he learns of the evil plans in store for the whale, Jesse carries out his own plan to Free Willy.

DVD Picture:
When compared to the previously released DVD, this new 2.35:1 DVD special edition offers a very similar picture, but one that is considerably cleaner. The picture is sharp, with generally satisfying details and definition. Contrast, however, can seem just a bit low at times. Colors are rich and nicely balanced with natural fleshtones, rich hues, and deep blacks. While there is still some pixelization and edge enhancement apparent, this new DVD is preferred for its smoother appearance. (Suzanne Hodges)

The Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack sounds the same as the audio version for the previous DVD, though this DVD features a new Dolby Digital encoding. The fidelity shows signs of the original production

  WSR DVD-ROM Review
DVD-ROM Enhancements Rating:

DVD-ROM Review:
After loading the Free Willy disc using the InterActual Player 2 software, a link toolbar appears on the bottom of the screen. From this toolbar you can select between the two features available specifically for DVD-ROM users. These options are titled Launch Game and Special Events. Also available from this toolbar are two Internet links to Warner Brothers' main Web site, as well as their kids Web site. Clicking the Launch Game link will open a new window with links for the two games available on this DVD. The first, titled Reef Maze Challenge gives you a third person view of Willy guiding him through a maze to escape the reef. The game is set up with a three-dimensional feel but only has four levels and is fairly easy to complete. You do not receive any compensation for helping Willy escape. The second game available after clicking the Launch Game link is called Willy's Aquatic Show. Here you must play a harmonica to a specific tune to get Willy to perform tricks for the crowd. If you play the tune wrong, the crowd will not cheer, and Willy will spray water all over you. The game is a memory type game where you must repeat what is played with the harmonica to get Willy to perform tricks. Performing the tune in the correct pattern will get Willy to show off a trick, but there only seems to be four tricks that he does, and which he does for the specific harmonica pattern appears to be random. There are three stages to pass here, and you do not get a prize for completing the game successfully. Moving over to the Special Events section of the DVD-ROM will allow you to access Warner Brothers' Special Events Web site, where you can get information on online events using your DVD, as well as find links to information on Free Willy and other Warner Brothers titles. You must have an active Internet connection to access this feature. Not much is included in this InterActual release. The games are short, easy, and not very entertaining - a bad combination. A small child may find the games fun to play, but they will definitely get old for them very fast. (Danny Richelieu)