Right up there with the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s finest efforts to date. Equal parts comedy, family drama and adventure, this story about a father and son is wonderfully executed. In case you’re one of the few not familiar with Finding Nemo, here’s a recap: Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) who, after losing his wife and all but one single egg, is determined to be a good father to his young son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). Scarred by his numerous losses, Marlin has become nervous and overprotective.
Momentarily feeling smothered, Nemo wanders too far away from the Great Barrier Reef and is captured by a diver. With Nemo now trapped in a fish tank in far off Sydney, Sydney, Australia, Marlin sets out determined to find his son, no matter the cost. The previously insecure Marlin evades sharks, jellyfish and more, with no fear. Along the way, he reluctantly accepts the help of Dory (Ellen Degeneres), a loyal blue tang fish with hysterical short-term memory troubles. The journey forces Marlin to face his fears. He also comes to accept he must change as a father. The only way for him to truly be the great father he wants to be is to trust that Nemo is capable of doing some things by himself. Finding Nemo was an immediate box office success, becoming the highest grossing Pixar film until Toy Story 3 surpassed it in 2010. Andrew Stanton and his co-writers Bob Peterson and David Reynolds seem to have a message aimed directly at parents: allowing children the chance to fail, no matter how badly, is part of the job description.
Besides the wonderful story, Finding Nemo is a visual delight. When director Andrew Stanton, his co-director Lee Unkrich and the rest of the crew began to put Nemo together, Pixar’s tech wizards weren’t certain that CGI set completely underwater was possible. Yet, the pulled off, delivering some truly memorizing scenes full of movement and eye-popping color.
No discussion of Finding Nemo would be complete without mentioning the wonderful performances by Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres as Marlin and Dory, respectively. As I recall, Disney briefly lobbied to get DeGeneres a supporting actor nomination. However, the Academy insisted they couldn’t give an award to a computer-assisted performance. Award or not, DeGeneres’ memory plagued Dory is one of the most memorable movie characters of recent years. Loyal to a fault, she just keeps swimming, no matter her shortcomings. Albert Brooks’ performance may have been more subtle, but it’s his personal struggle at the the heart of the film.
I missed the theatrical re-release of Finding Nemo earlier this year. Prior to watching the Blu-ray for this review, I probably watched it three years ago on DVD. I’m thrilled to report that Finding Nemo is one of those films that never get old. It’s still a wonderful adventure for all ages.
Finding Nemo comes to Blu-ray via a gorgeous 1080p transfer framed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The detail is simply astounding! Immediately, I started noticing things I hadn’t seen before: Nemo’s egg has a minor crack and the scale texture on both Marlin and Nemo is spectacular. Colors literally pop off the screen throughout. This is wonderful stuff.
The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix is superb. The Ocean atmosphere is delivered very realistically. A copious amount of directional dialogue contributes to the realistic feel. Speech is distinct and natural. Music is bright and dynamic. The various elements of the track are well defined and detailed; the presentation has strong low-end response, with consistently deep bass.
English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
Along with a standard DVD, the following special features are available:
- Cine-Explore (Disc 1, HD, 101 minutes): Director Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich and co-writer Bob Peterson break down the film in this thoughtful and extensive Picture-in- Picture commentary experience, complete with on-screen concept art, storyboards, pre-viz animation and other production materials.
- Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable (Disc 1, HD, 17:37): This new roundtable has Stanton, Unkrich, Peterson, producer Graham Walters, production designer Ralph Eggleston and technical lead Oren Jacob together for an interesting 10th anniversary retrospective.
- Reinventing the Submarine Voyage (Disc 1, HD, 15:05): Call it the ‘Nemo-ization’ of Disneyland’s ever-changing Tomorrowland.
- A Lesson in Flashbacks (Disc 1, HD, 7:59): Stanton discusses one of the biggest lessons he learned while developing and refining Nemo‘s story.
- Deleted Scene (Disc 1, HD, 3:04): An alternate opening presented with animated concept art.
- Knick Knack (Disc 1, HD, 3:37): Six years before Toy Story, a hint at what was to come.
- Art Review (Disc 2, HD, 8:38): Production designer Ralph Eggleston, character art director Ricky Nierva and shading art director Robin Cooper provide some thoughts on pre-production artwork.
- Making Nemo (Disc 2, SD, 25:36): The first of the features culled from the 2003 Collector’s Edition DVD, this excellent behind-the-scenes documentary covers a lot of areas relating to the production of the film.
- Exploring the Reef (Disc 2, SD, 7:01): A brief look at the beauty of the world’s endangered coral reefs with host Jean-Michel Cousteau.
- Studio Tour (Disc 2, SD, 5:24): Alexander Gould explores Pixar Studios and its departments.
- Old School (Disc 2, SD 8:53): Eight Production Hits: “El Capitan Pitch Selects,” “School Progression,” “MA Reference,” “Whale Mouth,” “International Mine,” “Pelican Animation,” “Glenn McQueen Tribute” and “Aquascum 2003.”
- Deleted Scenes (Disc 2, SD, 4:10): “Crush the Hippie,” “Shark Volleyball,” “Frantic Dad,” “Scent of Lavender,” “Sewage,” “Prologue Bedtime Story” and “Soap Opera/Gil Lies,” all presented via animated storyboards.
- Outtakes (Disc 2, SD, 1:48): “Chickenfish,” “Dory Muttering,” “Rove McManus” and “Brooks Punch Lines.”
- Publicity Pieces (Disc 2, SD, 12:48): Four trailers, plus “Fishy Facts,” “ABC Stunts” and “DVD Stunts.”
- Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia (Disc 2, SD): An interactive encyclopedia with videos of real undersea creatures.
- Aquariums (Discs 1-2, HD): A collection ocean floor screensavers. Discs 1 features one, Disc 2 features a selection of six: “Anemone,” “Jellyfish,” “Plate Coral,” “Reef,” “Sandy Reef” and “School of Fish.”