Film Review – Finding Nemo 3D
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
Pixar’s fourth feature length film was also one of its biggest successes. Finding Nemo (2003) dominated the public eye, earning both critical praise and huge monetary returns. It set the bar in terms of quality storytelling, a standard that would become commonplace from the studio. The appeal to both children and parents was key, and would result in an Academy Award for Best Animated Film. As of today, the film ranks with Toy Story 3 (2010) as Pixar’s highest grossing movie. With Disney/Pixar’s latest trend of 3D conversions of their past work, it would only make logical sense (business-wise) that Nemo should get the latest treatment. But does creating a third dimension add anything new to this wonderful story? Is the already-beautiful animation helped or hindered by this new element? Let’s find out.
The plot itself is just as great as you remembered it to be. Andrew Stanton (along with co-director Lee Unkrich and writers Bob Peterson and David Reynolds) knocked it out of the park with the story of Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish who goes on an epic journey to save his lost son Nemo (Alexander Gould). Along the way, we are introduced to a number of colorful characters, including a far-out, laid back family of sea turtles, a trio of fish-loving sharks, and an aquarium full of trapped fish plotting to make an escape. Last, but not least, is the forgetful sidekick Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who happens to bump into Marlin and unknowingly joins his quest to Sydney, where Nemo finds himself a prisoner in (of all places) a dentist’s office.
It’s amazing to think that this film was released almost a decade ago, and yet has not aged a day. In fact, as I have gotten older, my appreciation for it has also grown. What works so perfectly is the balance between the messages aimed at both kids and adults. Through Marlin’s terrible tragedy in the beginning, we learn why he has become so protective of Nemo and why he is constantly worried for Nemo’s safety. In return, we understand Nemo’s predicament and self-consciousness over his underdeveloped fin, and his reluctance to do something out of his comfort zone. Their journeys help them discover what they are capable of, and what they can accomplish if they face their fears and bravely go to places they’ve never dared venture to before. The theme isn’t subtle: this is all about parents allowing their kids to grow up and be their own person, and kids having the strength to do what they strive for. It’s an age-old theme, no doubt, but defined naturally within this world.
I was reluctant when I heard that this was going to have a 3D conversion. The original 2D animation was already beautifully rendered when first released. Colors were bright and vibrant; little details such as specks of dirt and the glow of being underwater really made the visuals something to enjoy. What I can say about the 3D is that it isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen. The loss of focus around the edges of the screen was not there, and for the most part I didn’t get the fuzzy, “double-vision” effect that I would in a lesser 3D movie. With that said, though, the specially-made 3D glasses (which are absolutely horrible to wear over regular glasses) did dim the picture quite a bit. This darkening affected the amount of detail one could see. The colors lost their vibrancy, and what tiny little elements were visible before have now disappeared from view. Children may not even notice (or even care) about these trivial criticisms, but knowing the amount of effort and artistry that was originally put into making this world feel tangible and real, the added dimension does not feel like an upgrade to me.
Before closing out, I do want to talk about Pixar’s latest attached short film, Partysaurus Rex (2012). Directed by Mark A. Walsh, the short features Rex (Wallace Shawn), the lovable and neurotic dinosaur from the Toy Story films, and his eagerness to show that he isn’t a nervous party pooper, but an outgoing, fun-loving toy. The story leads Rex into the bathroom, where he helps a bunch of water-based toys refill the tub and have an all-out, over-the-top water party. Now, this is a fun a little time, but a part of me feels as though Pixar needs to move on from their Toy Story franchise. We’ve seen three feature-length films and a handful of shorts already; they may have dipped into the well one too many times. Short films are a great way to express some very interesting and creative ideas, and they’ve done so with work such as Day & Night (2010) and the fantastic La Luna (2012). Partysaurus Rex feels like a step back, as though they are relying on established success instead of stepping out and attempting to give us something different.
In terms of story and character, you really can’t go wrong with Finding Nemo; it is a standing accomplishment from one of the best studios working today. While the 3D is nothing to write home about and the short film is enjoyable but forgettable, the feature itself is an experience that an entire family can be entertained by, and actually learn a little something from, as well.
The film: A
The 3D conversion: C+
Partysaurus Rex: B-