I do love the Pixar films, and there isn’t one I dis-like. However out of them all, ‘Finding Nemo’ is my least favourite. I don’t know why, but everyone needs to have a lesser popular film, and this is mine. I think it’s the aquatic setting; I found it a little boring at times. But 13 years later we get a fresh new take on the original idea with ‘Finding Dory’, and it works so much better for me.
There is much more land-based action this time around, balanced with a fair amount of aquatic adventure as you’d expect. This just makes the idea seem much more different to the original, with less room to accuse Pixar of recycling an old idea. Set in an around a Californian Marine Life Institute, we have lots of excuses to meet a host of new characters and see them in amusing situations that aren’t just based on swimming around.
The thing that stood out for me in this fun film is the attention to detail and the quality of animation we watch. So good, that we don’t even notice the little things that make the film feel as real as possible; be it Nemo and Marlin bobbing underwater every few seconds to take a breath when they tread water in conversation, or the ripples and light effects reflecting from the surface down below, or simply the texture and residue left by the animals where they move around. It’s these key moments that make everything so well presented and thought out, that the quality of the whole package is automatically upped and respected.
With familiar faces (and voices) from the original, Ellen DeGeneres maintains her slightly one-trick pony Dory character well and brings lots more heart to this outing than the first at times in searching for her parents. Due to the fact Dory has a mental issue, it’s even more tender and heart-breaking when you look past the bright colours and silly sounds.
There are plenty of moments especially with Dory as a child that will make you fight back your quivering bottom lip. Still, as always, there is never a dull moment and never too much focus on the emotional side that reduces children to tears, and there are plenty of visual and vocal jokes and quirky moments and comedic characters popping up to make young and old fans chuckle out loud.
We have enough action and chase sequences leaning to classic Pixar mad-cap fun, but there is also a strong character backbone to this, with each character playing an important part and easy to like from the off. We don’t have any real “villains” this time, and it’s simply a big group effort to help our fin-tastic heroes find where they need to go before time runs out.
It’s bright, it’s vibrant and it’s gorgeous to look at both under and above the ocean. The ‘Open Ocean’ setting particularly is stunning on its reveal. It's moments like this that Pixar step so close to blending animation with reality - it's hard to find the line that separates it at times. A stellar voice cast bring their lovable characters to life and so many big names pop up here and there like Idris Elba, Bill Hader, John Ratzenburger and even Sigourney Weaver.
It’s the usual top-class Pixar production that makes this sequel, to me, better than the first and different enough to stand alone from its predecessor without looking like a recycled attempt to cash in.