With its funny and touching story this time focusing on the blue tang with short term memory loss, Finding Dory takes some of the best elements from Finding Nemo and adds some delightful new characters all sharing in Dory’s various adventures on the Pacific Coast of the United States.
The Production: 4/5
Despite the lack of originality with its initial concept being a sequel of one of Pixar’s most popular and honored animated features, Finding Dory carries on the Pixar tradition with honor. With its funny and touching story this time focusing on the blue tang with short term memory loss, Finding Dory takes some of the best elements from Finding Nemo and adds some delightful new characters all sharing in Dory’s various adventures on the Pacific Coast of the United States.
Separated from her loving parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy) at a very young age, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) makes the decision to go in search of her parents whom she soon learns were last seen across the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. With pals Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) to help guide her way through her inevitable losses of memory, Dory and company find themselves at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, the last known site of her parents. There Dory meets other helpful acquaintances: grumpy octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill), former friend whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and her buddy Bailey (Ty Burrell), and two lazy sea lions (Idris Elba, Dominic West). During their searches, of course, Dory manages to become separated from Marlin and Nemo which makes the film’s title meaningful, but what’s important to the narrative is that Dory, even with her handicap, not only manages to use her strengths to help herself but her methodology allows her friends to also help themselves out of risky and potentially life-ending situations.
The script by director Stanton and Victoria Strouse begins with a pre-credit sequence zeroing in on one of Finding Nemo’s greatest strengths: its poignancy as we see Dory’s patient and loving parents trying to instill in her some skills to cope with her infirmity (throughout the movie, the use of flashbacks as Dory’s piecemeal memory kicks in and out provide a zippy pace to the movie amid continual changes of locale even for only seconds at a time). A brief reminder of how Dory and Marlin came to know one another propels us then one year later to begin the story proper. As with all of Pixar’s best works, the comic ideas grow out of characters who catch our fancy almost immediately, played with charm by an all-star cast of voice actors and sprinkled with sentiment which is never laid on too thickly but is just spiky enough to keep the movie from ever becoming too sentimental (not that there won’t be some well-earned tearful moments as the film draws to its climax). There are some usual stunning sequences, too, such as the stingray migration in the early going, Hank’s chameleon-like powers of blending and shaping, and Dory and Hank’s adventures in the Touch Pool at the Marine Life Institute where the art of animation simply dazzles. If the narrative goes off the rails a little bit with Hank’s madcap attempts to drive a car with Dory providing her own eccentric directions to him, it’s a small misstep in an otherwise first-rate comic adventure tale.
Being the leading character now rather than a supporting one, Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory continues to charm, drawing the audience to her and her quest with an earnest desire to see her succeed against a lot of mighty obstacles. Albert Brooks effectively reprises Marlin from the earlier movie, but the real delights are the new faces and voices in the mix. Ed O’Neill’s curmudgeonly lovable Hank is acerbically funny, and his Modern Family co-star Ty Burrell vies for the movie’s most inspired new creation as the living radar-sensor whale Bailey. Idris Elba and Dominic West provide the patented Pixar flair for comedy as the indolent sea lions Fluke and Rudder who actually rouse themselves to be of help to the helpless blue tang. Kaitlin Olson has fun as Dory’s old friend Destiny, and Sloane Murray as the young Dory is delightfully precious. Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy lend some gravitas to the amusement as Dory’s concerned parents in the flashback segments, and Bill Hader and Kate McKinnon have a hilarious deadpan encounter with Dory early in her quest to find her folks.
3D Rating: NA
The film has been framed for video at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. It’s a reference quality transfer, of course, magnificent in its blending of pastel colors with rich, bright, and deeply saturated hues in the out of water sequences, and the exquisite ability to portray light refractions in the shimmering water never loses its majesty or brilliance. Sharpness is superb, and contrast has been masterfully applied to make for a first-rate visual experience. The movie has been divided into 29 chapters.
The film played selected theaters in 3D, and Disney has released a 3D Blu-ray package for those equipped to play it.
The sound mix on the disc is DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, and it magnificently utilizes the entire soundfield to offer directionalized dialogue as characters swim in and out of focus. The wonderfully recorded dialogue has been combined with Thomas Newman’s striking background score and the innumerable atmospheric effects which likewise get superb placement in the fronts and rears making for a truly immersive aural experience.
Special Features: 5/5
Bonus features are offered on both the feature Blu-ray disc and an additional bonus feature disc. The following are the bonuses on the feature disc:
Audio Commentary: directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins fill their commentary track with tons of information on the years of work and many aborted subplots that happened before the film made it to the screen.
Piper (6:05, HD): the short which accompanied Finding Dory in theaters, it’s a charming look at a baby sandpiper’s early lessons on survival.
Marine Life Interviews (2:04, HD): Fluke and Rudder, Bailey and Destiny, and Hank all share memories of dealing with Dory.
The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar (9:05, HD): directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, producer Lindsey Collins, voice actor Ed O’Neill, and other major crew for the film describe the difficult 2 ½-year birth of the character of Hank, the most harrowing character creation in Pixar’s history.
What Were We Talking About? (4:06. HD): directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, producer Lindsey Collins, and film editor Axel Geddes discuss the difficulties about moving Dory from a place on the sidelines in the first movie to the leading role in the sequel.
Casual Carpool (3:47, HD): director Andrew Stanton has his hands full driving actors Eugene Levy, Albert Brooks, Ty Burrell, and Ed O’Neill to work.
Animation & Acting (6:57, HD): lead animator Michael Stoker, animator Becki Tower, director Andrew Stanton, and other members of the animation staff along with voice actors Ty Burrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Ed O’Neill, Albert Brooks, Kaitlain Olson, and Eugene Levy discuss the process of recording their lines and the animators using facial cues to aid in their animation of the characters.
Deep in the Kelp (3:20, HD): Disney Channel star Jenna Ortega narrates the visit the staff took to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get ideas for portraying the aquarium scenes realistically in the movie.
Creature Features (3:02, HD): Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy, Kaitlain Olson, Ty Burrell, and Ed O’Neill talk about the traits of their characters in the movie.
The Bonus Features disc in the set includes these bonus items:
Skating & Sketching with Jason Deamer (4:14, HD): character art director Jason Deamer discusses the process he uses to sketch some of the main characters of the movie.
Dory’s Theme (4:57, HD): director Andrew Stanton and composer Thomas Newman discuss themes and instruments used to give the movie its unique sound.
Rough Day on the Reef (1:11, HD): a brief montage of computer glitches experienced during the film’s production.
Finding Nemo as Told by Emoji (2:47, HD): the story of the original movie told in emojis.
Fish Schticks (3:35, HD): a special short of animated sight gags featuring characters from the film.
Living Aquariums (HD): four feature-length panel animations: “Sea Grass,” “Open Ocean,” “Stingrays,” “Swim to the Surface.”
Deleted Scenes (50:15, HD): director Andrew Stanton introduces six extended segments which were deleted, some in hand drawings and others fully CG animated.
International Trailer Gallery (HD): United States (1:43), Japan (2:09), Spain (1:22), Russia (2:31).
Promo Trailers (HD): Moana, Beauty and the Beast.
DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.
Another winner for Pixar is the funny and touching Finding Dory, a film fully worthy of its illustrious, Oscar-winning parent movie. The reference quality video and audio quality is breathtaking, and there is a 3D release also available for those who are capable. Highly recommended!