HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer
HTS Overall Score:68
After “Cowgirls ‘N Angels” last year, we now have a sequel to the series. Like the previous installment this film is targeted squarely at young girls. Full of down home country teachin and lots of moral fiber, it’s a refreshing change from all of the jaded pop culture garbage that young audiences have to deal with. In the age of “Brats” and “Monster High”, it’s nice to see a series that targets young girls with a nice down family oriented story. There’s a bit of drama, but nothing that will make a parent have to skim through the film hoping against hope that it’s still appropriate for the children. It’s clichéd, and by the numbers to the core, but its harmless fun that targets that young girl audience, and pretty much nails it. If you’re a 30 something guy who likes things to blow up, you’re probably not going to dig the film, but if you look in the mirror and you’re an adolescent female who loves horses. Then it’s time for a movie night.
Dakota Rose (Haley Ramm) is having the time of her life. She’s a trick rider in the rodeo and she’s having a blast. All that comes to a head when she finds out that she was adopted nearly 18 years ago. Shocked that her parents never told her the truth, she doesn’t’ know what to think, her fragile life crumbling around her. Not wanting to stay with her parents for the time being, she takes the opportunity to go and help her grandfather, Austin Rose (Keith Carradine), out at his pony ranch for the summer. Just like her, Austin was a trick rider, one of the best there was to be precise and while she is all mixed up over just WHO is really family right now, he’s the only one who understands her. While there she has the chance to reinvent herself, find out who she really is. To add some wonderful conflict, she’s able to track down her birth mother, hoping to find out something about her past, only to find out that not everything is as rosy as she thinks it will be.
Dakota has to learn that family is not just about blood, but about who sticks and around and takes care of you and loves you, no matter what defines family on paper. With the addition of Summer (Jade Pettyjohn), a troubled young foster girl, Dakota’s views change and mature over the course of her summer. This maturity allows her to see people for who they really are and have the guts to face her own faults head on, not throwing them on someone else’s shoulders and learning how to actually be an adult. Now of course, the movie would not be complete without some trick riding skill increases and Dakota has plenty of that.
The film is clichéd, paint by the numbers and wraps things up a bit too nicely for some of us, but it’s still a sweet and endearing story that, if you can overlook the simplicity of certain situations, was a surprisingly decent film. There is so much miserable drek out there that I would never show my nieces in a thousand years, that I’m happy to see something I could sit through with her and not bang my head against the door in boredom or wonder why such drivel exists. It’s a nice little drama and growing up in the southwest it’s nice to see a bit of country fried entertainment on the table for once. I grew up around a trick rider and I have to say the film did an excellent job of showcasing the fun and skill that it takes to ride a horse like that. Girls who love horses are going to have blast watching the movie. It delivers cute drama, TOOOONS of horses, and even the obligatory boy (who shocking!!!) to giggle over.
The film is flawed, but fun, a little drama, a little love, and some good old fashioned morals and we have a film that the children, especially girls are going to love. Adults may not exactly find this their first choice to toss on the projector, but for the parents I can happily say it’s a movie that you won’t mind your daughters or nieces or grandchildren watching one bit. It’s saccharine sweet, but it does so in a non-offensive that makes it much easier to recommend to parents (I always find that recommending a film to parents can be dicey being that everyone has a different perspective on what’s “acceptable”).
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15338[/img]“Cowgirls ‘N Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer” is presented in its original 1.85:1 AVC transfer. Shot digitally it has a squeaky clean look that only digital can give. There’s very little digital noise, but we do see a little bit during some of the indoor scenes. The film is given an earthy, gold tone to it and the outside scenes tend to boost the whites just a tad. Greens and browns and blues tend to come through the most and skin tones look a bit bright. The film was shot on a low budget so you can see some of the cinematography issues in the film. Certain scenes you can see the reflection of the camera lens on a shiny object and there’s a few funky edits, but the main issue is a sort of weird “scrolling waves” that can happen on a few indoor shots. It only happened 3 or 4 times for a short moment, but it’s very obvious when you do see it. The rest of the time the film looks spectacular with incredible detail and only a few moments of softness. Black levels are impressive, albeit there are VERY few dark scene. Definitely a step up from the previous film’s quality.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15346[/img]The audio is pretty much a limited budget thing here. The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is rather front heavy and only uses the surrounds for mild ambient noise. The LFE channel adds some nice low end to the film, adding some weight to the thundering of horses hooves, or the crash of a car door. The main bulk of the audio is fixated in the front 3.1 speakers. The dialogue is firmly centered and 90% of the ambient noises are all fixated in the mains. Had this been a 3.1 track from the beginning I would have given it a higher score, for it does a VERY good job in those front speakers, but as a 5.1 track it’s rather lacking.
• Behind The Scenes of Dakota's Summer
Cute and kind, the movie isn’t an award winner, but good faire for children is getting harder and harder to find as the years go by and it’s nice to have something targeted for adolescent females in particular. “Dakota’s Summer” will be enjoyed by girls and tolerated by parents, and the solid audio and video scores round out the bunch quite nicely. It would have been nice to see some more extras, especially for loving girls to see all the back story to trick riding etc, but we can’t have everything. Recommended for the girls.
Starring: Haley Ramm, Keith Carradine, Marin Hinkle
Directed by: Timothy Armstrong
Written by: Timothy Armstrong
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 91 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Buy Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: For the girls
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