Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Cowgirls N Angels: Dakota's Summer
Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer, or Dakota's Summer, as is it sometimes simply known as, is the second film in the Cowgirls 'N Angels franchise. Although I'm not sure I would call it a true sequel, as there are almost no characters from the first movie in this one. Is the film worth checking out? Is the Blu-ray worth picking up?
The film is set in the world of trick riding and throughout the opening credits. The rider is Kristen Rose, the star of the Sweethearts, a riding team, and the granddaughter of the legendary rodeo cowboy, Austin Rose. She has an excellent ride, but the next rider, Dakota Rose, her sister, falls off her horse during her run. Next up are the Lone Stars, Dawn Morton and Julia Reneau, who perform perfect routines. Dakota and Dawn used to be friends, now they are fierce rivals, except that Dawn always comes out on top. While packing up after the competition, Dakota makes a comment to Kristen that despite being sisters, they are very different people. Kristen responds that she doesn't know the half of that. When Dakota asks what she meant by that, Kristen eventually tells her. She's adopted.
On a side note, this is done in a really artificial way. I didn't buy the way this secret came out. If they couldn't come up with a natural way for this plot point to develop, I don't have a lot of hope for the rest of the film.
Hearing this news is a serious distraction and at the next event Dakota falls again. This time when Dawn taunts her, Dakota reacts by shoving a pie in her face. As a result, the Sweethearts decide she needs a little time off. She decides she needs to leave, but with nowhere to go, her parents suggest going to her grandfather's ranch. He could use the help.
When Dakota arrives, she's greeted by grandfather and grandmother, who are raising mini-horses, which they use in a program to help troubled youth. She also meets Bryce Tucker, whom she immediately hates. Part of Dakota's job at the ranch is to run the tours with the troubled kids and her first time out, she runs into Summer, who challenges her obvious lack of enthusiasm. After the kids leave, Dakota calls Summer a little brat, but her grandfather warns her not to judge too quickly. Little brats could have a heart of gold, which is clearly a barb at her attitude.
About a scene and a half later, Dakota and Summer appear to be friends and the two are talking. Dakota asks why Summer is in a group of troubled kids and she says she's in foster care while her parents are away with the Peace Corp. Summer asks Dakota about her family, which spurs Dakota into doing a little snooping in her grandfather's office and quickly finds the name of her birth parents. Will she be able to find them? And will she be happy with who they are?
Before I get to my opinion of the movie, I should point out that I'm not in the target demographic. This is a Dove "Family-Approved" film aimed at teenage girls. I'm not a teenager. I'm not a girl. And I'm not "Family-Approved". (I checked to see if the film was Dove Approved, but when I saw no icon on the Blu-ray box, I said, "What the..." and you can probably figure out the rest). I was expecting a safe, but predictable film. Quite frankly, Dakota's Summer is both safe and predictable. There are some cheese-ball moments in the movie and there are not a lot of twists and turns to be sure. That said, it is also a well-made movie and it was better than I was expecting. (It was certainly better than most of the movies I reviewed this weekend.) Like I mentioned above, there are some spots where the writing was a little awkward; plot points needed to be hit, but they didn't get there in an organic way. That said, that wasn't a major concern. Also, the acting was strong throughout and in the end, I actually cared about these characters. (Even if I knew how the stories would end about 15 minutes into the movie.)
The only extra on the Blu-ray is a 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.
The technical presentation is strong with good details and excellent colors. There were not a lot of dark scenes, but I didn't notice any problems with the black levels. There were no compression issues or digital artifacts either. The audio is also strong with clear dialogue and good separation, but it isn't an overly active track.
The Blu-ray costs $28, which is $5 or 22% more than the DVD. That's a good deal compared to the DVD, but a little pricey compared to most first-run films.
Cowgirls 'N Angels 2: Dakota's Summer was better than expected and if you have teen or preteen girls into horses in general or the rodeo in particular, then it will be worth checking out. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, but it does have better replay value than I was expecting, so it might be worth picking up instead of just renting.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-04-14