“Now it's my turn. I'm thinking of something dark and mysterious. It's a fish we don't know. If we ask it directions, it could ingest us and spit out our bones.”
“What is it with men and asking for directions?”
“I don't want to play the gender card right now. You want to play a card, let's play the ‘let's not die’ card.”
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my theatrical review from 2003 with an opening note from its reprinting in September of this year:
“Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of my 2003 theatrical review of Disney/Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” Obviously, facets of it are a little dated, so please keep that in mind while reading. As to the film’s new 3D conversion, it’s well known I’m not a gigantic fan of the process and don’t typically see the point in paying extra for it at the box office. That said, “Finding Nemo” looks extraordinary in 3D, beyond amazing, even, this conversion easily the most intoxicatingly immersive I have ever had the privilege to see. Worth the extra dollars? Not sure, but any chance to see “Finding Nemo” in a theatre is one I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on.
If only my hometown Seattle Mariners had batting averages like the group at Pixar does. Sure Ichiro, Edgar Martinez and Brett Boone are all hitting above .300, but Disney’s favorite computer animation superstars are currently batting 1.000 (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.) with all four films making my year-end top ten. Seeing that each takes five or more years to animate and bring to life, those are impressive numbers.
Make that five-for-five, for with their first summer offering – the wildly imaginative Finding Nemo – Pixar officially stakes their claim to being the best animation studio bar none. Well, at least this side of Japan. I’m sure Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke director Hayao Miyazaki would disagree. Still, as far as American animation goes, Pixar is top gun, and Finding Nemo may just be their best yet.
It’s definitely the group’s most emotional and adult film. Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is an overly neurotic clownfish who loses his wife and entire family of un-hatched eggs to a vicious predator. All of them save one whom he names Nemo (Alexander Gould) after his dead wife’s last wish, promising to protect his young son no matter what.
But children are destined to grow up, and over-protection comes with a price. In this case, that price is Nemo swimming off the reef on which they live to go out into the open ocean and touch the bottom of a boat. Partly a dare from some kids during their first day of school, partly to prove his small flipper isn’t a hindrance, this act of defiance on his part is mostly a way to prove to his dad he can finally stop babying him. Marlin’s devastation is that much more palpable when his young son, after succeeding in his quest to touch the bottom of the boat, is scooped up by an exploring diver and whisked away to destinations unknown.
With only a pair of goggles left by the diver as his only clue, the paranoid clownfish sets out to find his son. Along the way, he picks up some help from a friendly bluefish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who just happens to be able to read English. Only problem, she’s a victim of short-term memory loss, just as apt to forget talking to you two seconds after introductions as she is the name and address of the owner of a mysterious pair of goggles.
No matter, friendship and adventure ensue as Marlin and Dory make their way across the ocean towards Sydney coming into contact with stoner sea turtles, a school of trout adapt at synchronized sigh language, a vicious deep sea hunter, a field of forgotten human landmines and a life-zapping bailiwick of floating jellyfish. Best of all, they meet up with a trio of sharks named Bruce (Barry Humphries), Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence). They’re going through AA-style meetings helping them to give up eating fish, and Marlin and Dory are lured to their gathering on ‘bring a buddy to,’ err, ‘lunch’ day.
While his dad is trying to fight the ocean in search of him, Nemo is making friends. Thrown into a seaside dentist’s (Bill Hunter) aquarium he’s quickly introduced to a menagerie of aquatic life including blowfish Bloat (Brad Garrett), starfish Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) and another fin-damaged critter named Gil (Willem Dafoe). À la The Great Escape, Gil has been trying to get out of the tank and back to the ocean for ages and, with Nemo’s help, he and the gang just might make it.
With each successive film Pixar’s movies get more amazing. That’s definitely true here. Finding Nemo is easily the single most gorgeous film I’ve seen this year. The animated renderings of underwater life are exquisite, like nothing the cinematic world has seen before. The way things move and bob, turn and roll, swoop and soar just incredible.
What’s most impressive, though, is how Pixar’s creative teams manage to keep hitting that delicate balancing act of kid-friendly entertainment that adult’s will adore just as much as their children do. While the themes are easily the most advanced the group has attempted, it’s nothing children who’ve seen Bambi, Pinocchio or The Lion King haven’t experienced before. Director Andrew Stanton’s story is so right on, so tight and on the money, it’s hard not to be moved to tears as the movie progresses to its heartfelt coda.
As always in Disney movies, whether made by Pixar or the studio itself, the voice work is impeccable. And while Brooks undeniably shines as the fatherly Marlin, it is DeGeneres that steals the show. Needless to say, just expect children to be trying to speak whale for the rest of the year.
What else is there to say? Finding Nemo is a beautiful, timeless entertainment that once more establishes the geniuses at Pixar as a true dream team where it comes to computer animated filmmaking. This is definitely one film worth diving into.”
Buy this Blu-ray, either the 3D set or the 2D set, I don’t care which. Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s masterpieces, was one of my personal picks for one of the Best Films of 2000 – 2009, and as such will continue to be adored by young and old alike for generations to come.
Finding Nemo is presented on a dual-layer 50GB 3DBlu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer. It is also presented on a standard 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack as well as a plethora of other audio tracks and features optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Many of the extras here are ported over from the previous DVD special edition. Some of them are brand new. These 0ew extras include:
· Cine-Explore – Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich and co-writer Bob Peterson in a spectacular picture-in-picture track fans will thrill to. Wonderful.
· Finding Nemo: A Filmmaker’s Roundtable (18 minutes) – a newly produced 10th anniversary retrospective look at the film with Stanton, Unkrich, Peterson, producer Graham Walters, production designer Ralph Eggleston and technical lead Oren Jacob. Awesome.
· Reinventing the Submarine Voyage (15 minutes) – Fairly forgettable look at the converting of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disneyland to a new one reflecting the world of Finding Nemo.
· A Lesson in Flashbacks (8 minutes) – Andrew Stanton on what he learned while making Finding Nemo and in developing its script.
· Deleted Scene (3 minutes) – An alternate opening showcased using conceptual art.
· Knick Knack (4 minutes) – Delightful short worth watching over and over again.
Bonus Disc (Blu-ray)
· Art Review (9 minutes) – Production designer Ralph Eggleston, character art director Ricky Nierva and shading art director Robin Cooper look at the film’s pre-production art work.
The remainder of the extras are all pulled from the 2003 Collector’s Edition DVD and are as glorious as ever. Also included are six short-loop ocean floor screensavers (one on the 3D Blu-ray, one on the 2D Blu-ray and four on the Bonus Disc Blu-ray) dubbed “Aquariums” and they really are gorgeous and definitely worthy of a look.
This 3D Blu-ray release of Finding Nemo is absolute perfection and, maybe, the best animated high definition release of 2012. Buy it at once.