Review by Michael Jacobson
Albert Brookes, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush, Alexander
Director: Andrew Stanton
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2003
got SERIOUS thrill issues, dude."
to believe it was less than ten years ago that Pixar Animation Studios first
burst into the mainstream with their daring concept for the first full length
computer animated feature, Toy Story. It
was a success, but more than a novelty. As the studio continued onto bigger and better projects, from
Toy Story 2 to the Oscar nominated Monsters Inc., it was as though
a page were being turned before our very eyes.
partnership with Disney seemed a logical one.
The Walt Disney Studios, after all, are seminal animation pioneers in
their own right...who better to take the next step in creative technology?
But over the past decade, that next step became a gigantic leap.
Computer animation has not only flourished, it's just about taken over
the medium. Consider how the
aforementioned Pixar films, along with other studios' digital offerings like Shrek
or Jimmy Neutron have racked up big dollars at the box office.
Meanwhile, many of Disney's own traditional animated offerings from the
same time period, including Atlantis, Treasure Planet, The Emperor's New
Groove and others, have barely rippled the waters.
Finding Nemo has arrived from Pixar and Disney like a gigantic
exclamation point on the phenomenon. This
is a visually spectacular, wondrously imaginative adventure that takes us into
incredible little-seen worlds the way only animation could, while making them as
vivid and dimensional as only a computer realization can.
only does it simulate underwater experiences like no standard ink and paper
renderings could, but it tells a terrific story of love, courage and hope, while
foraging through with delightful unbridled comedy.
Each time I think Pixar will never be able to top themselves, they prove
is the tale of a clownfish named Marlin (Brooks), left alone with his only son
Nemo (Gould) at the beginning of the film after a tragedy claims the rest of
their family. Marlin is nervously
loving and overprotective of his small offspring, who in turn is easily excited
and adventurous, despite his malformed fin that makes swimming difficult.
day, little Nemo swims too far into the open sea and gets netted by a diver.
Now Marlin, who has never ventured far from his sea anemone home, faces
the impossible task of trying to get his son back.
It's a big ocean out there, but fortunately (maybe), he finds
companionship in Dory (DeGeneres), a sweet, enthusiastic fish with a poor
Marlin and Dory find adventure in the forms of sharks engaged in some kind of
twelve step program, a trip to the dark bottom of the sea, a frantic rip current
and a belly-of-the-whale sequence, little Nemo ends up in a dentist office
aquarium in Sydney, Australia. He
makes new friends there, but it may not be enough, once he learns he's to be
given as a gift to the doctor's horrific little niece, in whose care fish
never survive (the theme from Psycho actually plays when she
father and son actually find each other against such odds?
You can probably guess the answer, but no matter...getting there isn't
half the fun, it's ALL the fun. As
mentioned, this is a film of never ending visual wonders, and the skilled
artists at Pixar really capture the way the world looks underwater, including
how menacing shapes can suddenly seem to materialize out of the murkiness.
But over and above that, their undersea world is a full realized three
dimensional arena filled with colors, action, danger, and of course, comedy.
One of the aspects of the movie that may amuse adults is how
scientifically accurate it usually is...granted, fish don't talk or have
expressive eyes, but the portrayal of jellyfish, sea anemones, starfish and
seagulls are quite dead on. Frankly,
if gulls could talk, what would they say apart from "Mine!"?
voiceover actors are all superb choices. Albert
Brooks brings the right amount of humor and emotional resonance to Marlin, while
Ellen DeGeneres is a rib tickling delight as Dora.
Also featured are the likes of Geoffrey Rush and Willem Dafoe in
memorable smaller roles. Every
voice lends an aura of real personality to the characters, and that in turn
makes the story more engrossing.
animation has taken the art form in new and exciting directions, and much as in
the early days of traditionally drawn features, the possibilities seem
limitless. As I said, one can only
wonder if we're seeing the end of one kind of art form giving way to something
newer and fresher. The box office
dollars are a big indicator that might be so.
Finding Nemo was a huge success like the Pixar films before it.
No longer a novelty, computer animation is becoming the norm.
a digital-to-digital direct transfer, Finding Nemo is a breathtakingly
glorious viewing experience on DVD. This
is a bright, vivid, colorful and incredibly detailed presentation where not one
iota of information gets lost or distorted.
Absolutely flawless...nothing more to say, except opt for the anamorphic
widescreen presentation over the full frame one for fullest visual pleasure.
5.1 listening experience is just about as good, with plenty of action, ambient
underwater sounds, and music to keep your surround system humming.
Dynamic range is plenty strong, while spoken words are clean and clear.
Crossover action is frequent and smooth as signals flow one to another
effortlessly for maximum realism. Big
action scenes pump up the volume and get the subwoofer cranking.
discs' worth of bonuses are included, with material to please both young and
One contains the widescreen version of the film, plus a unique filmmakers'
visual commentary. While they talk
about the movie, it will occasionally cut away for extra behind-the-scenes info,
such as computer tests, sketches, deleted scenes, recording sessions and more,
before returning to the feature. It
takes a little longer to watch the movie this way, of course, but any cutaway
can be skipped over with one click of the remote.
But it's worth going through in it's entirety at least once because
there are plenty of treasure to be found in it.
There is also a documentary on Making Nemo, art galleries narrated
by the artists themselves.
Two has the movie's full frame presentation, along with the remaining extras.
Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Nemo friends explore the real coral
reefs with you, while "Mr. Ray's Encyclopedia" will give you trivia and
real video footage of the fish the characters were modeled after.
An interactive "Fisherades" game will entertain the kiddies, while
everyone will enjoy the classic Pixar short "Knick Knack" and a sneak peek
at the next Disney/Pixar feature The Incredibles.
A storytime session will let kids hear a story or read it themselves.
There is also a tour of the Pixar studios, along with four trailers and
four "fish facts" interstitials.
discs feature ‘virtual aquariums' that will turn your TV into a computer
animated fish tank of your own choosing. There
are also introductions to the movie on both discs, and some Easter eggs to hunt
for (nothing significant, but mostly fun).
Animated menu screens with character voices are a nice final touch.