Writer-director Timothy Armstrong pays another visit to the Sweethearts of the Rodeo trick riders in Cowgirls ‘n Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer. With almost a completely new cast and story, however, the film is a sequel to the original 2012 film in name only, but the family-centered, simple narrative will still seem overly familiar with the movie’s auteur raiding numerous plot storage units to piece together his mostly clichéd coming-of-age story.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletkeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/15/2014
As one of the top riders in the Sweethearts of the Rodeo trick rider group, Dakota Rose (Haley Ramm) has been having more than her usual number of mistakes and mishaps, and when she learns from her sister (Emily Bett Rickards) that she’s actually adopted, her sense of betrayal sends her to her grandparents’ (Keith Carradine, Anne Lockhart) ranch to think things through for the summer. There’s a cute, attentive ranch hand (Spencer Boldman) there and also troubled foster child Summer (Jade Pettyjohn) who’s struggling with her own sense of not belonging. Over the course of the summer, Dakota matures as she focuses on someone other than herself part of the time even though she does find out her real birth mother’s (Julie Ann Emery) identity and tries to form a relationship with her.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Director Timothy Armstrong’s script contains all of the expected clichés of the teen movie genre especially one focused on a teen who finds out she’s adopted: there are mean girls (headed by Kimberly Whalen), the cute but shy boy to bring her out of her shell, adoring grandparents who practice tough love, a younger version of the main character who feels equally lost, the self-centered birth mother, and, of course, all of it surrounded by the season-ending rodeo where Dakota, who’s been having trouble all summer with her trick riding, must pull herself together to win the prize for the team. Armstrong has even inserted a very uninteresting and underdeveloped secondary love plot for the one holdover character from the first film (Leslie-Anne Huff). The storytelling is completely undemanding, and there are no surprises anywhere. Armstrong uses montages to cover Dakota’s first three weeks on the ranch as new relationships begin to bloom and a later one as Dakota prepares for the final rodeo competition. It’s all sweet and simple and utterly forgettable, but it’s certainly safe family entertainment, and the horses (especially the miniature horses that the grandparents raise) are always a pleasure to experience.
Haley Ramm is solid as Dakota even if the script doesn’t exactly allow her to explore her character’s feelings with any real depth or sense of discovery. Keith Carradine brings a warm, strong presence to all of his scenes, and reliable actors like Glenn Turman as the trick riders’ trainer, Anne Lockhart as Dakota’s grandmother, and Emily Bett Rickards as Dakota’s sister all do what they can with characters that have not been fleshed out enough in the writing. The most enterprising and charming performance is offered by Jade Pettyjohn as foster child Summer. She’s got an effervescence and appeal that surmounts the clichéd character she’s playing and actually makes the denouement with her character more memorable than Dakota’s more expected outcome.
The film has been framed at 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is usually very good though there are occasional soft focus shots of the ladies in close-up. Color is generally solid with no danger of its being overdone and with believable skin tones. But contrast is inconsistent, and the occasionally milky texture of shots sometimes makes for a more digital-looking image. Black levels are fine. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix doesn’t offer much in the way of ambiance in the rear surrounds. The complete soundstage does get better utilized with the array of country songs and Todd Haberman’s background score, but the sounds of the country on the ranch and the rodeo activities and applause might have made for a more active surround mix. Dialogue, however, has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Behind the Scenes of Dakota’s Summer (12:43, BD): writer-director Timothy Armstrong, stars Haley Ramm, Keith Carradine, Anne Lockhart, Julie Ann Emery, Spencer Boldman, and the stunt doubles for the various actresses who play trick riders talk positively about making the film and working so amenably with one another.
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
Promo Trailers (HD): Romeo and Juliet, Still Mine, The Ultimate Life, Heart of the Country.
Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.
If it’s a sweet, simple, unchallenging family film you’re looking for, Cowgirls ‘n Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer fits the bill. The talent is here, however, for something far more complex and interesting. The Blu-ray offers very good if not exceptional picture and sound.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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