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Featured 3D Blu-ray Review: Finding Nemo

December 3rd, 2012

Finding Nemo - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray Combo Pack or 3D Combo Pack

Finding Nemo came out nearly a decade ago and earned nearly perfect reviews. This fall, it became the latest Pixar film to earn a 3D re-release. Is it as good as most critics said it was? And does the 3D add anything to the film?

The Movie

The film begins with a pair of clown fish, Marlin and Coral, looking at their new house and marveling at their 400 eggs, which are just days away from hatching. The happy times end very quickly when a barracuda attacks. Marlin is knocked out and when he comes to, Coral is gone and only one egg is left, which he names Nemo, because that's what his wife wanted.

We flash forward to the first day of school. Nemo is super excited about going to school, but the trauma of the barracuda attack has left Marlin more than a little cautious. That's an understatement. He is so bad that he embarrasses Nemo in front of his new friends on the first day of school. To retaliate, Nemo decides to do something dangerous in order to prove he's not a coward like his father. He swims out to the open ocean to where a boat is. While on his way back, Nemo is caught by a scuba diver and the boat leaves. Marlin chases after him, but he's just a fish and they are traveling by boat. It isn't long before he's lost sight.

Fortunately, Marlin runs into another fish, Dory, who also saw the boat and knows what direction it went and offers to lead the way. Unfortunately, Dory has serious memory problems. They aren't traveling much more than ten seconds before she forgets meeting Marlin and thinks he's just some strange fish following her. His great disappointment quickly melts away and is replaced by even greater terror. Bruce, a Great White Shark and he's inviting Marling and Dory over for a party.

Meanwhile, we look in on Nemo, who we learn was caught by a dentist and now lives in his fish tank at his office. However, he won't be living there for long, as Nemo is going to be Darla's birthday present. In fact, he won't be living for long, because Darla is a notorious fish killer. Gill, the leader of the fish tank, promises to not let Nemo suffer that fate. He will bust Nemo out of the tank. He has a plan that will get them all out of the tank.

At this point, we run into some pretty big spoilers, so we will end the plot summary now.

For a long time, Finding Nemo was Pixar's biggest box office hit, and it is easy to see why. The film has an amazing adventure story at its center, but it also has a ton of heart. It has the saddest opening for any Pixar movie, until Up came along. It also has arguably the best emotional core. The trauma of the opening scene sets up the central conflict, which is the over-protective parent and the child rebelling under that weight. I think that's a conflict nearly everyone has some experience of. The peril and the emotionally weighty scenes are balanced out by the humor. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres have amazing chemistry together and the character driven humor is supplemented by smaller throwaway gags. "Mine!"

Also, I had forgotten how gorgeous this movie is. I never thought to myself, "That scene hasn't aged well." On the other hand, there were more than a few scenes when I got caught up staring at the animation.

The Extras

This massive five-disc box set includes a ton of extras, including some that are new to this edition. The new extras begin with a CineExplore picture-in-picture track. I love these, and frankly they should be easy to do for animation, so I'm not sure why there are not more of them. Take the audio commentary track and add in early animation in the picture-in-picture and you have the perfect bonus feature. Up next is an 18-minute filmmakers roundtable. Reinventing the Submarine Voyage is a 15-minute featurette about the renovation of the Submarine Voyage and how Finding Nemo influenced it. There is an Alternate Opening in storyboard form. It runs three minutes, with an intro by Andrew Stanton. A Lesson in Flashbacks is an eight-minute featurette with Andrew Stanton, this time discussing how in the original draft, the film had a lot of flashbacks that were then dropped.

The 3D combo pack also has a 3D aquarium. ... Why? Having an aquarium on a DVD or Blu-ray is something you have on in the background. I don't think many people watch these intently. However, in order for it to be 3D, you need the glasses, which means it is no longer a background thing.

As for old extras coming over, there's Knick Knack, the old short film, and a 2-D aquarium. There is also a complete second disc with a ton of extras from featurettes, interactive games, deleted scenes, promos, and more.

Moving onto the technical presentation... this film is flawless. It is 100% reference quality material. Like I said above, there were times I got caught up in the amazing animation, and that's saying a lot since I've seen the film many times before. The 7.1 audio track is just as strong as the transfer with crystal clear dialogue, plenty of ambient sounds, dynamic effects, a solid bass, everything you would expect.

The film also has some of the best 3D effects. The movie has a lot of depth, as much as you can expect given the nature of the film. There are a lot of shots in the open ocean where there's very little to see beyond the foreground. There's also not a lot of things breaking the plane. Granted, depth is more important, but having things fly (swim?) at you is also very fun. Finally, there's never a problem with ghosting.

As for the price, the Blu-ray combo pack is $23, which is acceptable for this type of release. It is a catalog title, but there are exclusive extras and the technical presentation is incredible. The 3D combo pack is $28, and paying $5 more for 3D is on the low end of the average price.

The Verdict

Finding Nemo is Pick of the Week material. It is as simple as that. Whether you buy the Blu-ray Combo Pack or the 3D Combo Pack, it is a must have.

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Filed under: Video Review, Finding Nemo, Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, LuLu Ebeling, Alexander Gould, Barry Humphries, Elizabeth Perkins, Andrew Stanton