Flipper (1996)

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Released 15-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 91:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alan Shapiro

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Elijah Wood
Paul Hogan
Chelsea Field
Jonathan Banks
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Joel McNeely

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Flipper is the age-old story of a boy and his...dolphin.

    Sandy (Elijah Wood) is sent to spend the summer with his salty old uncle Porter Ricks (Paul Hogan) on a fantastic tropical island in Florida. With an entire bag of chips on his shoulder over the divorce of his parents, Sandy is determined not to enjoy himself at all costs. Early in the film he witnesses a heartless attempted shooting of a dolphin while out on his uncle's boat, by mean charter boat skipper Dirk Moran (Jonathan Banks). He allows the dolphin to hide behind his uncle's boat and sends the charter boat in the opposite direction. Predictably, the dolphin is rather grateful and follows Sandy back to shore, with the two soon becoming inseparable friends.

    Kathy (Chelsea Field), the apple of Porter's eye and a marine biologist, comes to realise that all is not well in the beautiful aquamarine waters around the island with the fish stocks dwindling at an alarming rate. Her research soon reveals that pesticide residues are polluting the ocean and killing the fish. After Flipper turns up looking distinctly green around the gills and Sandy spots the villainous Moran dumping barrels from the back of his boat late at night, the plot begins to thicken. Could Moran be linked to the decline of the fish stocks? With the help of Flipper, Sandy and the gang determine to ensure that Moran gets his just desserts.

    Flipper will be a delight for young fans of dolphins (or Hobbits). Wood shows early signs of his acting ability, later to be realised in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Hogan puts in an adequate performance as Porter. Whilst the plot is a little contrived (where did that toxic waste come from?), the kids surely will not mind the hokum or the sugary-sweet dialogue as they savour the dream of having a dolphin as their best friend. Inoffensive family entertainment.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is fairly good, albeit with some limitations in the way of aliasing. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The overall transfer is fairly sharp and without significant grain. Black levels are deep and shadow detail is always acceptable, with no low level noise evident. Colours are well rendered and wonderfully warm, lending an appropriately sun-soaked feel to the entire film with no significant colour bleed evident. The location is certainly a beautiful one (the Bahamas) and the cinematography makes the most of it at all times. Skin tones are pleasant and natural for the humans - I'm not sure what dolphin skin looks like in real life.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts present, although there is the mildest hint of macroblocking on some of the splashing waves. Edge enhancement is occasionally present but was never distracting. Aliasing was almost a constant feature witnessed as a a mild shimmer throughout on striped shirts, boat rigging and weatherboard houses. More significant examples can be found on the cans at 6:09 or the blinds at at 55:04 and the boardwalk at 83:57.

    Film artefacts crop up sporadically as a series of minor flecks and specks, but are generally not significant enough to cause offence.

    The standard English subtitles are reasonably well timed and legible, albeit presented in a rather ugly blocky font. They do drop a considerable amount of the dialogue, but still allow the plot to be followed adequately.

    This disc is in a single sided and dual layered RSDL format, with the layer change not noticeable on my system.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is quite good, with the lapping waves providing a nicely evocative backdrop to the sunny visuals.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kbps. It is clean and clear throughout, with no pops or dropouts to be heard. Dialogue was almost always clear, and is never drowned out by the musical soundtrack. There is one notable lapse in audio sync at 26:56.

    The original music is credited to Joel McNeely (Terminal Velocity, The Avengers). It is well suited to the mood of the film, with alternate passages of suspenseful strings for the more sombre moments, sweeping strings when swimming with Flipper and twangy Shadows style guitar sounds when Hogan struts his stuff aboard his boat. Some of the more dramatic sections can be quite aggressive, and overall I thought this was quite a serviceable soundtrack.

    The soundstage is mildly enveloping. Whilst the front speakers do much of the work, the surround speakers do carry a fair amount of subtle ambient noise. Occasionally they play a more substantial role, for example during the obligatory tropical storm scenes.

    The subwoofer adds some bass to the musical backing and the occasional more specific effect such as around 53:58 during the toxic waste dumping scenes. Overall it is quite comfortably integrated into the audio landscape.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras present.


    The main menu is nicely animated with a laid-back acoustic guitar soundtrack. It allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of twenty chapter stops plus language and subtitle selection.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie does not appear to be available on DVD in Region 1. The Region 2 version appears to be a similarly bare bones effort. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Flipper is an old school, overly sweet at times, family film. For lovers of dolphins (or Elijah Wood) this will provide some lightweight entertainment. Whilst it does nothing to really excite, it also does nothing to offend. Worth a rental for the younger members of the clan.

    The video transfer is bright and colourful, but with constant minor aliasing present.

    The audio transfer is generally good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Monday, October 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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