Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Finding Nemo (2-Disc Collector's Edition)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Albert Brooks as Marlin
Ellen DeGeneres as Dory
Alexander Gould as Nemo
Willem Dafoe as Gill
Barry Humphries as Bruce
Eric Bana as Anchor
Erica Beck as Pearl
Brad Garrett as Bloat
Allison Janney as Peach
Vicki Lewis as Deb/Flo
Austin Pendleton as Gurgle
John Ratzenberger as Moonfish
Stephen Root as Bubbles
Geoffrey Rush as Nigel
Andrew Stanton as Crush
Erik Per Sullivan as Sheldon

Special Features:

Disc One: Filmmakers' World

Visual commentary with deleted scenes & recording sessions

"Making Nemo" documentary

"The Art of Nemo" narrated by the artists

Virtual aquariums

Disc Two: Family Fun

"Exploring the Reef" a new short with Jean-Michel Cousteau and your Nemo friends

Pixar short Knick Knack with commentary

A peek at the next Pixar film, The Incredibles

Fisharades game

Read-along storytime

Learning fun encyclopedia

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Pixar Studios hosted by voice of the Nemo, Alexander Gould

More virtual aquariums

Other Info:
Full Frame (1.33:1) Ė Specially reframed for televisions
Widescreen (1.78:1) Ė Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
French and Spanish Language Tracks
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Synopsis:
Marlin is a clown fish living in the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. After having lost his wife and most of his kids in a barracuda attack, heís extremely protective of his only surviving son, Nemo. Nemo and Marlin love each other, but Nemo has been frustrated by his fatherís overprotectiveness. Unfortunately, when Nemo defies his father and sneaks off on his own, heís caught by a diver. Nemo is taken as a pet fish and placed in a dentist office aquarium in Sydney with a variety of other fish. Led by Gill, the aquarium fish are trying to make their own escape.

Meanwhile, Marlin desperately chases after his son, but soon loses him. Dory, a fish with a short-term memory problem, helps him try to find Nemo. Thanks to left behind clues, they know where he is. The only problem is getting to him. Together they face the dangers of the ocean including sharks, jellyfish, fishermen, seagulls and more in order to rescue him. However, Marlin can only find his son if he learns to let go and trust the friends he meets along the way.

Finding Nemo is rated G.

The Movie:
Iím a big fan of Pixarís films, so I was greatly relieved to see that Finding Nemo was not a stinker. After a long string of hits, they are definitely due for a bomb, but this isnít it. If I had to rank it among the other Pixar films, Iíd place it on par with Monsters Inc. (Toy Story 2 remains my favorite.)

What really makes Finding Nemo unique is the whole fishy setting. The backgrounds are stunning and filled with life and motion. The characters are bizarre, beautiful, eccentric, cute, scary, and amusing. You get a real sense of discovery watching the film. It seems like an alien world, but itís all very based in reality. The beauty of the marine environment makes the sterile dentist office and aquarium all the more unappealing. The stunning animation by Pixar really brings it all to life. While I didnít like the murky look of the ocean at first, it did end up standing out in stark contrast to the crystal clear aquarium of the office. The lighting, texture, and detail on all the characters is amazing, even when theyíre caught out of water.

Iíve always loved the ocean and sea creatures. Iíve even kept a saltwater tank with a clown fish and anemone. Based on that familiarity, I think I was even more open to the sea life jokes than others might be. The seagulls, hated by many, are a reoccurring joke through the film as they annoyingly squawk, ďMine!Ē A group of sharks, led by a Great White named Bruce (and voiced by the guy that is Dame Edna), form a support group for those addicted to eating fish. Some of their side comments are really hilarious and culminate with a feeding frenzy to make Jaws proud. A shrimp maniacally cleans the scum out of a tank while children tapping on the glass terrorize other fish. You also learn that life in an aquarium either drives fish insane or teaches them a lot about dentistry (just in case you ever wondered what they thought about while floating around watching you). Itís all really amusing, and if you know any marine biologists, theyíre going to get a real kick out of this film.

Not all of the jokes are about the sea, though. There are some funny jokes about dentists in the movie, surfer lingo, and more. Thereís even a fantastic chase sequence between Nigel the pelican and a group of the annoying seagulls. It culminates with a hilarious fight scene in the dentistís office.

The cast is fantastic. Albert Brooks is perfectly cast as Marlin. His frantic behavior is perfectly captured by Brooks. Ellen DeGeneres is great as the absent minded Dory. While Iím no fan of DeGeneres, I canít think of anyone better than her to play the character. Willem Dafoe is good as Gill, another fish taken from the sea and raised in an aquarium. His drive to escape is made believable by Dafoe. Barry Humphries is funny as Bruce, the Great White shark. I had no idea this was the same guy that acts as Dame Edna. Hulk fans may be interested to note that Eric Bana plays Anchor, one of his shark support group members. Brad Garrett returns to a Pixar role as Bloat and John Ratzenberger keeps his role as the Pixar good luck charm, this time as a school of Moonfish. Geoffrey Rush is also hilarious as Nigel, the pelican who seems to have a problem spotting windows. Together, they all make this a fun film and they really bring their characters to life.

On a side note, keep an eye out for the traditional Pixar Easter Eggs through the film. Youíll spot Buzz Lightyear in one scene, Mike from Monsters Inc. during the credits, and references to Psycho and The Shining. Also, be sure to stay through the credits to see a funny bit at the very end.

I loved this film, but I didnít rate it as high as the other Pixar films. It slowed down a bit in a few spots and caused the kids to get antsy. The pacing alternates between frantic chases and slow, emotional, dramatic moments. The trailers and commercials also show practically all of the best moments in the film. There are very few surprises.

Parents might want to be aware that there are some scary moments. For example, while the sharks are more or less good characters, Bruce does go into a frenzy and tries to eat our heroes. Seeing a Great White with black eyes, rows of sharp teeth, a loud voice, and a massive charging body is an awesome sight. Some kids with us werenít fazed by it while others cowered and hid their eyes. Your kidís reaction may vary. Marlinís wife and kids are also all eaten in a rather scary moment. Though it happens off screen, it might be too intense for some kids. Then thereís the basic plot that is about a child being kidnapped. As if kids didnít have reason enough to be afraid of being snatched, this might play on those fears. Fortunately, itís buried in enough comedy and animation to not be obvious.

Finding Nemo is a movie both kids and adults will enjoy. If youíve enjoyed the other Pixar films, youíll love this one.

The DVD looks absolutely fantastic. It is a direct digital transfer straight from the original source. You canít get a better image than this. Even better, both the wide screen and full screen versions are included in the 2-disc set. Take your pick. And Pixar even went the extra mile by expanding the original image to fit the whole screen. Nothing is cut off. In fact, youíre technically getting more of the movie than you did in the theater. Throw in spectacular THX sound and you have a wonderful home theater experience.

The Extras:
As you would expect from a Pixar DVD, the extras here are first rate. You not only get a look at the making of the film, but you get a lot of other fun items as well. Here are the highlights:

Visual commentary with deleted scenes & recording sessions Ė This is your typical movie commentary by the creators. However, at certain points in the film, the movie will stop and kick into a short documentary. These cover deleted scenes, rare shots of the cast recording their dialogue, making-of featurettes, and more. Even better, you can watch the extras totally separate from the movie. This way you donít have to sit through the entire film to see the extras. Overall, itís a great DVD feature.

"Making Nemo" documentary Ė This is the highlight of the extras. Itís a fun behind the scenes look at the making of the film. A documentary crew followed the creators around for the full production of the movie and itís all here. From the research trip to the Great Barrier Reef to the concept meetings to the final production, you see the making of the movie every step of the way. You gain new appreciation for the fine attention to detail in the movie. This documentary also makes Pixar look like a really fun place to work. The only thing missing is footage of the actors voicing their characters. I wish there was more of that.

"The Art of Nemo" narrated by the artists Ė Rather than having your typical gallery of production artwork from the movie, the artists actually provide commentary for the pictures as they go by while music plays. Itís a much better way of seeing the art and you gain a greater appreciation for it as they point things out you might not have otherwise seen.

Virtual aquariums Ė On each menu you have the option of turning off the menu selections and just watching the backgrounds loop endlessly. Itís like having an aquarium in your living room. Theyíre not terribly entertaining, but itís a clever feature. As a side item on the menus, I like the fact that they display the running time next to each feature. It helps you decide what you might want to watch with limited time.

"Exploring the Reef" a new short with Jean-Michel Cousteau and your Nemo friends Ė This is probably one of the funniest extras on the DVD. The son of Jacques Cousteau introduces what initially appears to be a documentary on coral reefs. Among live action underwater shots, Dory suddenly appears and starts clowning around in front of the camera. She starts annoying Cousteau who, in a hilarious way, eventually loses it and explodes. After regaining his composure, Marlin and Nemo also appear for a discussion on the conservation of coral reefs. With the original characterís voices, this ends up being a really funny short. It concludes with Cousteau shaking his head and saying, ďPapa never would have been upstaged by fish.Ē

Pixar short Knick Knack with commentary Ė In typical Pixar tradition, they attach one of their early short films to this feature. Knick Knack tells the tale of a snow globe snowman trying to escape from his dome. Of course, hilarity ensues. Itís very funny and a great footnote in Pixarís history.

Fisharades game Ė In this game the school of fish from the movie will partially form pictures of various objects. Your job is to guess what theyíre forming before they complete the picture.

Read-along storytime Ė This is a video storybook geared towards younger viewers. In this story you follow Nemo and his schoolmates around the reef as they visit with characters from the film. Rather than featuring CG animation, this is told with 2-D stylized depictions of the characters.

Learning fun encyclopedia Ė This is a short video encyclopedia hosted by Mr. Ray. In it you can find live action footage and trivia about the main fish seen in the movie. Learn about the Great White Shark, the clown fish, the ray, and more.

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Pixar Studios hosted by voice of the Nemo, Alexander Gould Ė This behind the scenes tour is more geared towards children. While it does explain the moviemaking process, thereís a lot more clowning around (no pun intended) than in the first documentary. Itís actually very funny and both kids and adults should get a kick out of it.

Easter Eggs Ė There are a couple of Easter eggs on the DVD. They arenít really that special, but it is fun to try and find them.

The Bottom Line:
The Finding Nemo DVD has something for all ages. Technophiles will love the animation and DVD presentation. Movie lovers will get a kick out of the story. Kids will love the DVD extras and the cartoon characters. Overall, itís a required addition to anyoneís DVD collection.

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