With its resplendent animation, terrific voice cast, and an immersive (in more ways than one) story of a father’s search for his missing son, Pixar’s Finding Nemo is one of the studio’s preeminent efforts, a comic adventure tale filled with the magical Pixar ingredients of humor, hope, and heart that distinguish all of its best efforts. Everything came together magically for Finding Nemo, the first of many Pixar movies to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar. And now in 3D, the movie takes on even more glorious depths both visually and dramatically.
Finding Nemo 3D (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 100 minutes
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 EX English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Review Date: November 25, 2012
Tiring of his father Marlin’s (Albert Brooks) tenacious hold on him in fear of his losing his son like he had lost his wife and soon-to-be-hatched offspring, Nemo (Alexander Gould) gets too close to a human vessel and gets scoped up by a diver eventually ending up in the aquarium of a dentist in Sydney, Australia. Feeling guilty about driving his son to take an unfathomable risk, Marlin sets out to find Nemo and along with the amiable but forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), he goes on a series of scary adventures away from the safety of his reef in the hopes of reuniting with his beloved child.
The screenplay by director Andrew Stanton along with Bob Peterson and David Reynolds makes sensational use of its doubled-edged storytelling. We cut back and forth between the adventures of both father and son, each dangerous and frightening and exhilarating in its own way as each one learns about the necessity of taking an occasional chance to live life to its fullest. And threaded through the sensational adventures with sharks who have sworn off fish eating only to get a whiff of blood to find themselves in killer-mode again, a section of ocean with ancient but still active explosive mines, a veritable sea of jellyfish which our dynamic duo must somehow navigate through, and a host of sea turtles hitching a ride on the swift Eastern Australian Stream are hilarious one liners (the sea mine sequence climaxes in a side-splitting sight gag) and a host of wonderfully eccentric and endearing characters: Bruce the Shark (Barry Humphries) with his pals Chum (Bruce Spence) and Anchor (Eric Bana), the gangly pelican Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) who’s trying to get Nemo sprung from the tank, Crush the turtle who speaks in surfer dude lingo (voiced by director Andrew Stanton), and all of Nemo’s friends contained in the tank raging from world weary Gill (Willem Dafoe) who’s given up hope of ever escaping to puffer fish Bloat (Brad Garrett) who loses control at the worst possible moments. And don’t even get started on the hysterical seagulls (who also take part in one of the most elaborate chase sequences in the movie with a terrific payoff) or the hyper-enthusiastic school teacher Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson). The animation is some of the most visually lush and awesomely designed in the history of all animation, not just CGI work, and the movie is often a visual paradise to just get lost in.
Inspired casting abounds in the movie. Albert Brooks is the epitome of the worrisome dad, never sure if he’s either doing enough or too much. In the year of its release, there was some talk that Ellen DeGeneres was being considered for a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her voice work in the movie. It didn’t happen, but her chattery short-term memory loss lapses are both funny and touching simultaneously. Alexander Gould makes a perfect Nemo, brash but realistically frightened in new environments and one who grows emotionally as the film runs. And the star cast of other notables from Geoffrey Rush’s helpful pelican to Barry Humphries’ Bruce torn between love of fish and guilt after eating them makes continual revisits to this watery world a genuine delight.
3D implementation – 4/5
The film has been framed at 1.78:1 for this Blu-ray release and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. A reference transfer by any rational measure, sharpness is exemplary, and color richness and depth of hue without any problems with blooming are exceptionally strong. Black levels are superb, and there is no problem with banding in any of the blue backgrounds present in the underwater scenes. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The addition of another dimension to the CGI-created worlds here adds enormous depth to the underwater scenes, and even scenes in the aquarium have a luxurious sense of space that’s captivating. Characters have been placed interestingly in every frame so that the sense of depth increases by their own individual sizes, shapes, and relations to one another. Though the fish never quite swim outside the frame into the room as one might have wished, pointed snouts and other projections from the fish and the environs do occasionally poke toward the viewer. There is no problem at all with ghosting in this new 3D transfer.
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound mix is a marvel of sonic invention. There are constant split sound effects which can pan around the entire soundfield, and those rear surround channels get their own fair share of effects apart from the standard fronts and rears. Thomas Newman’s music gets a wonderfully expansive spread through the entire soundstage, and the LFE channel also gets quite a bit to do with the amount of loud action that’s been written into the film. Dialogue has been masterfully recorded and mostly resides in the center channel though there’s just a bit of directionalized dialogue which is always welcome.
The 3D disc contains 3D promo trailers for Monsters, Inc 3D, Monsters University, and Planes.
There are seven 3D aquariums (in 1080p) which are user selectable.
There are two 2D Blu-ray discs. In addition to the feature film, the first Blu-ray disc contains the following bonuses all in 1080p:
“Knick Knack” is the early Pixar animated movie with a snowman in a snow globe anxious to make a connection with an alluring fellow memento. This is the “censored” version of the short which runs 3 ¾ minutes.
The CineExplore feature is a combination audio commentary with directors Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich and scripter Bob Peterson along with a kind of making-of documentary featuring multiple pop-up windows showing artwork, models, movie clips, and anything else salient to the discussion of making the film. Often other members of the cast and crew pop up to describe an element of the movie they took part in.
“Finding Nemo – A Filmmakers’ Roundtable” has directors Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, producer Graham Walters, writer Bob Peterson, and others discussing the movie nine years after its release. They cover the fun and the frustration of trying to make the film work and reveal some secrets how certain animated effects were achieved. This runs 17 ¾ minutes.
“Reinventing the Submarine Voyage” discusses the history of the submarine ride at Disneyland and explains how the ride was remodeled to take advantage of the Finding Nemo characters. This runs 15 minutes.
Director Andrew Stanton introduces a deleted opening scene for the movie in this 3-minute clip.
“A Lesson in Flashbacks” finds director Andrew Stanton discussing his original plan to introduce the sad story of Marlin’s life before Nemo in multiple flashback sequences contained throughout the movie and now the simpler, more effective pre-credit sequence of the film in this 8-minute featurette.
The disc contains promo trailers for Monsters, Inc. 3D and Peter Pan.
The second Blu-ray disc contains the following material:
There are six aquariums in 1080p which are user selectable on this disc.
A review of some of the pre-animation artwork by art directors Ricky Vega Nierva, Robin Cooper, and Oren Jacob goes through changes in characters from initial conception to finished look in this 8 ¾-minute piece in 1080p.
The following material was ported over from the DVD release of the movie. It’s in 480i:
“Making Nemo” is a 25 ½-minute look at the 3 ½-year journey from conception to screen. The crew does research on undersea life by becoming certified scuba divers, draw and animate and light the film in agonizing steps toward completion.
“Exploring the Reef” is a hilarious documentary on coral reefs ostensibly hosted by Jean-Michel Cousteau but constantly interrupted by Dory, Marlin, and Nemo. It runs 7 minutes.
A studio tour of the new Pixar facility is taken by actor Alexander Gould as he wanders around from department to department on his own. It runs 5 ½ minutes.
Old School is a collection of eight featurettes running anywhere from ½ minute to 2 ¾ minutes on various stages of the production from Andrew Stanton pitching a new comic sequence, going from stage to stage in the animation process, to a tribute to the late Pixar executive Glenn McQueen.
Four audio outtakes run a total of 1 ½ minutes.
There are seven deleted scenes in storyboard/temporary track form.
Publicity Pieces include four trailers and a series of Fishy Facts and TV spots for ABC shows and the previous DVD release.
Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia is a very amusing series of thirteen brief informative bits on sea creatures portrayed in the movie with real-life facts about them.
The fourth disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.
The fifth disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie.
5/5 (not an average)
Finding Nemo is one of those indispensable movies that only comes along once in a generation: a heartwarming and hilarious film that offers magnificently engrossing entertainment for every member of the family. Even more so in 3D, the movie is essential, and this new Blu-ray release is as close to perfection as it’s possible to be. Highest recommendation!