Reviewed December 9th, 2003 by Brian White
Apparently John Lasseter has sold his soul to Satan. Pixar, the animation studio that he heads, has put out five very successful films. All of them have plenty of heart, are a joy to watch, are funny and have made scads of cash. There hasn’t been a dud in the bunch; and one has to worry about the poor man’s afterlife.
Finding Nemo is the latest hit in Pixar’s repertoire. It is testimony to Pixar’s strengths to call this a fantastic, entertaining and funny movie, while conceding that it is probably the weakest in Pixar’s library. Monsters Inc. seemed to have far more humor, while maintaining the sincerity. Nemo is great, but is not up there with Toy Story and Bugs Life either. Despite its place on the Pixar ladder, one can only recommend that everyone with a DVD player pick up Finding Nemo.
Finding Nemo is the story of a lost child, and the lengths to which his father will strive to bring him home safely. Like all Pixar films, the movie is rich with characters, and humor. Unlike Shrek, Pixar films do not find their humor in the cynical but in sincerity. Sincerity is much more difficult to successfully put on screen, and Pixar is always capable of involving the audience and drawing you into the characters’ dilemmas.
Other than being entertaining and funny, Finding Nemo is a gorgeous flick to behold. All of the color, lighting and underwater stuff is very cool. Pixar are masters of their art, and this movie goes to show what is possible in computer animation. On the commentary track, director Andrew Stanton says that the animators were able to make the water and fish look too realistic, and had to pull back to remind the audience that this is a cartoon.
A note must be made about Ellen Degeneres’ performance as Dory. She is very funny throughout, and can pull at the heartstrings when necessary. As per usual, there are some great stars contributing voices to this movie. William Dafoe plays the embittered, but still hopeful Gill, Geoffrey Rush is Nigel, and Albert Brooks makes you want to find Nemo as much as his does his Marlin.
As for video quality, Pixar has always provided us DVD geeks with some great eye candy. Nemo is a direct digital transfer, so it looks much better than any filmed movie that has been transferred. Clarity and color are top notch. Being such a beautiful film to look at, it is great that the DVD shows off all of the magic so well. A 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is present on disc one, while a “reframed” full-screen version of the film is available on the second disc. The “reframed” version is preferable for those without widescreen televisions because Pixar went to great lengths to allow the viewer to see everything without seeing black bars.
In terms of sound, Nemo does not disappoint. A THX Certified 5.1 EX mix has been included on the DVD, and it sound every bit as fantastic as you might expect from a Pixar film. Bubbles, waves, and all forms of effects fill the room.
For extras, there is a feature-length commentary on the disc that also branches off to behind-the-scenes information about subject matter being discussed by the filmmakers. Also, there is a “Making of” featurette, some games, a “virtual aquarium” feature and some educational stuff. Now, this all seems like a lot, but somehow the extras seem thin. I suppose there’s only so much time that can be spent watching computer guys at their computers. It would have been nice to see more of the actors laying down the voice tracks and discussing their characters. The work that goes into the “reframed” transfer makes up for any short-coming.
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