The Free willy Trilogy to remember 90s Killer whale explotation
It’s Saturday night in the 90s, you go to Blockbuster to rent Free willy, life is simple, you are happy. A movie that used a killer whale from a theme park in Mexico Reino Aventura named Keiko. The movie inspired people to help Keiko be free like willy but unlike the movie, the killer whale was not happy being free, it wanted to be home with humans and eventually died. It’s Saturday night in the 2020s as you learn this, life is complicated, you are unhappy. So let’s stream the Free willy movie trilogy and see if it was worth killing Keiko over it in what truly are ultimate 90s movies.
I’m sure Sea world got to cash-in for free thanks to these movies. I actually got to visit Keiko at Reino Aventura more than once, and was sad when I visited again and Keiko was gone. It really was a magical tie to see the killer whales do their show though after the Blackfish documentary and also learning from other articles and reports on how much they suffer, I’d never be able to enjoy these shows again.
Free willy 1993
This movie reeks of the 90s now this can be a positive or a negative… I leave it up to you. The whole rebellious kids scene is so cheesy, yet I love it.. It’s a pretty hardcore origin for the Jesse the kid without foster parents… so dumb that it’s cute yet hardcore trying to make it be dramatic but its a story about a kid befriending a whale. You clearly don’t see movies like this anymore, definitely of the time period. The film anthropormophizes the feelings of the whale and treating it like a dog, it feels wrong though Orca’s are indeed supposed to be quite smart. The movie is just so goofy, angsty, and a product of it’s time. I can’t say the movie is amazing but when it came out it was huge. It’s just an iconic movie and I can understand why but it is definitely harder to watch than something like say Casper.
Somehow the movie is 2 hours long and it doesn’t feel like it so that’s good. As mentioned the film is the epitome of the 90s, the fashion, vibe, soundtrack, etc. The movie is not very logical and it’s uber dramatic, so while it doesn’t make sense it has heart. The ending seqence is badass in reality.. Iconic shot looks more ridiculous than I thought it would be. The success meant it would get a sequel, I’m not sure why it would need one now but I know kid me was super excited for a sequel.
Free Willy 2: 1995
The second movie gives a compelling arc for Jesse, willy is now with his family which is a bitter sweet ending counting what happened in real life. I remember the movie feeling super new to me when it came out and couldn’t beleive there were more killer whales in the poster, this to me meant it was a better movie already before even watching it. The thing is the original movie is a basic story that doesn’t lend itslef to a second movie so at least I can say they somehow succeeded. it’s nice to see this being an evolution of the characters, the brother angle worked. They talk about sex for some weird reason. It’s short on willy but i guess so was the first movie. The enemy conflict at least if uninspired doesn’t feel forced, it’s just kind of there. willy uses his finishing move the “splash” and it’s exciting. Even with all this praise, in general the film is a bit boring.
Free Willy 3 1997
You’d expect the third movie to be bad but it has a surprisngly interesting plot with hunters and the song of the hunters being pro willy. It’s neat seeing an older Jesse, Rundolph still being there at least provides continuity since most recurring characters from the first 2 movies are gone. willy has babies! And holy moly the kid trying to sabotage whale murder is just awesome and exciting well as exciting as this type of movie could get. I remember this movie coming out and always wanted to watch it but never got to. The story is not that exciting, I don’t want to oversell it but perhaps more interesting as well. In general both are better actors. what happened to his parents they’re hand waved. His broher isn’t mentioned despite being the focus last movie. Did he stay with him or find new parents? his grand daughter girlfriend isn’t shown.. Better actors, glad to see keiko geting more work.. kid needs to tattle on his father. But whatever happened to the girl trainer form the first movie? It’s a decent enough flick, none of the movies are that great or believable really so this can get a pass..however the ending is missing willy’s finishing move even if the hunter really suffered what a whale suffers through. weird direction and hardcore move but hey Free willy baby! the third movie took hardcore
free willy baby
Free Willy 4: Escape from Pirate’s Cove 2010
It took more than a decade before a fourth movie came out but downgraded to straight to video. I wonder where they could’ve taken a fourth movie if they had dared to continue the story of Jesse, but instead the franchise died with the free willy trilogy and we got a reboot. I guess it could be part of the same continuity, it’s not a remake and shares none of the characters so I can count it as being the same universe. A girl from South Africa finds an Orca in her grand parent’s theme park and names it willy, perhaps because of the original movie’s famous willy I’d argue. The story is original and fun, much more kid friendly but in a good way. It’s more memorable than any of the sequels even with a simpler story, in a way more fun than the original movie. I quite enjoy it and perhaps it’s my favorite one. They only messed up by not having willy do his finishing move at the end. I would only have made the movie shorter. I wonder if they hoped they could make more direct to video movies, or herphaps it was just too costly, but this was the end of the franchise and after what we learned about orcas I don’t think we’ll see any remakes or anything from this brand. Poor Keiko.
If you cant get enough willy though they did make a cartoon that serves as a sequel to the original movie and oddly enough shares many of the same themes the trilogy had. These movies don’t only represent the decade of the 1990s but also the life of Keiko in a way, though this actually isn’t Keiko’s only acting roles he had, Keiko had a better acting career than many humans.