LOS ANGELES — The true story of U.S. Marine Megan Leavey and her military combat dog Rex arrives in North American movie theaters on Friday.
"Megan Leavey" follows the pair as they meet, work together in a bomb detection unit in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are later reunited on U.S. soil where she is struggling to adapt to life as a civilian.
Film maker Gabriela Cowperthwaite returns to the director's chair four years after her documentary "Blackfish" helped change attitudes about killer whales in captivity and led SeaWorld to end its killer whale entertainment shows and breeding program.
"I do think that animals are this entry point to being able to have empathy and feel things and I think we're at our best when we have that empathy," Cowperthwaite said.
"If this is just one more way you can open up the compassion side of yourself, then I will feel happy," she told Reuters.
Kate Mara, who plays the title role, said she felt a responsibility to portray realistically the journey that wartime soldiers go through and what happens to them when they return home.
"How do you deal with your loved ones and just regular people and regular life on a daily basis?" she told Reuters. "It was a challenge and we wanted to do everything in our power to get that right."