Free Willy 3: The Rescue

on August 08, 1997 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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Jason James Richter and August Schellenberg reprise their roles as adopted son Jesse and father Randolph for this third installment in the Willy orca saga. This time out, a 10 percent decline in the local killer-whale population has two possible explanations: Either there is a natural cause, or a black-market price of $200 per pound of orca meat have drawn poachers into working the waters.
   Willy, freed in installment #1 and returned home for #2, in this episode (as its title implies) must be rescued. (What's next: "In Search of ..."?) The heart of the story actually is a subplot: A little boy named Max (Vincent Berry) for the first time sees what his father (Patrick Kilpatrick) does for a living--kill animals. Max becomes torn between accepting his dad's chosen way of life and doing what he feels is right.
   This anti orca-killing movie has excellent up-close underwater photography, and new animatronic whale replicas created by Walt Conti's team at Edge Innovations are even more convincing than before. In addressing controversial animal-rights matters, "Free Willy 3: The Rescue" succeeds in giving audiences an environmental jolt, but some moviegoers might remain cool to a second message, that it's okay to risk your job by breaking rules. Starring Jason James Richter, August Schellenberg, Annie Corley, Vincent Berry and Patrick Kilpatrick. Directed by Sam Pillsbury. Written by John Mattson. Produced by Jennie Lew Tugend. A Warner Bros. release. Drama. Rated PG for thematic elements involving whale hunting, and for brief mild language. Running time: 86 min
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