by Bobby Blakey
With every Disney / Pixar film fans are typically eager for a sequel, but for some reason that doesn’t always happen. When Finding Nemo was a smash hit in 2003 it was one of those that of course fans wanted to see more of the characters, but didn’t really need a sequel. Now 13 years later the follow up Finding Dory is here and brings back not only some of the original cast but a whole new group including Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Dian Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, and Sigourney Weaver, but can it capture the same underwater magic as the first or will it sink before it gets a chance to swim?
Finding Dory follows the wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents as a child. With help from her friends Nemo and Marlin, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save mom and dad from captivity. When returning to a world of beloved characters there is a thin line between it being worth the time and feeling like it was just a cash grab. Thankfully this latest underwater adventure not only lives up to its predecessor it surpasses it in many ways. The story is great and offers up even more heart and fun than the first as well as takes it to a bigger a better place overall. The Dory character was always fun, but with her running memory loss played up for laughs in the first it could have grown really old here, but they use it more than a joke here. Throughout her story her issue is still funny and keeps the character the way you remember her, but also causes her emotional struggles as well as triumphs. This is a character that felt one dimensional with the first outing, but thanks to some clever storytelling makes her so much deeper and interesting to watch. DeGeneres clearly loves this character and her voice work is perfection as she steps back into the deep to bring her to life once again.
The rest of the cast all do a great job as well with Brooks bringing his overprotected Marlin right back to the side of Dory and while it’s her film is still a character that remains front and center alongside Nemo this time voiced by Hayden Rolence. It’s always fun to see what new characters join these kinds of movies and this one offers up plenty with each more entertaining than the next. Ed O’Neill is grumpy, fun perfection as an octopus with an agenda who brings some of the most visual fun that any character in this series has to date. There are a couple of others that are awesome as well, but don’t want to be too detailed since they offer up some plot details that may or may not ruin some of the story, but rest assured they are great fun additions to this world. Visually the animation is perfection as expected from anything Pixar, but they took some brave detailed directions that really helped this film feel bigger and better than the first. There is plenty of out of water adventure that’s ridiculous, but still a lot of fun and expands the world created in the first film by miles. While this stuff is fun to watch it is still the underwater world that is the most engaging to witness. There are the usual designs you expect from the first film, but there are moments in pipes and varying dirty water that is really impressive with the dark detail and dirty algae filled water. The murky look is dark and grimy, but gives the perfect visual to what they are dealing with. Have no fear it is not all this way there is plenty of bright vibrant colors that keep the lighthearted fun intact, but there is so much more depth and hear this time around the film is just overall bigger and more effective.
Finding Nemo was a visual treat and still holds up as a great film, but Finding Dory has the rare treat of being so much better and more than the first. There is so much to make you love, laugh and cry that it makes it perfect for all ages and one that you will likely want to see more than once. The 3D doesn’t do much other than add more depth, but it is one of those films that will be so much better seeing the sea life come alive on the big screen. We may or may not get another adventure with these characters in the future, but this film works to not only tell the other side of the story of Dory, but also brings everything full circle to make for the perfect two film series that doesn’t need much past there should they end it.
In addition to this fun underwater adventure, this release also includes bonus content including deleted scenes, commentary, theatrical short “Piper”, and a ton of featurettes that take you deeper behind the magic of bringing this wonderful world to life like only Pixar can. Join Dory on her quest with Finding Dory available now on Digital HD, Disney Movies, Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand.