FINDING NEMO 3D. Voiced by Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, and LuLu Ebeling. Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich. Rated G (Some scenes may frighten young children). 107 min.
This is a return of the same film that was released almost ten years ago. It is the latest movie that Disney has brought back to cinemas in 3D form, and it is the first 3D movie released by Pixar which produced the original version. The original film won the Academy Award in 2003 for Best Animated Feature, and was the second highest grossing film that year, behind “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”. It is also the fifth highest-grossing animated film ever made.
It tells the story of an overprotective clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks), who sets up home with his wife Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Their brood is attacked, and all but one of his children-to-be, along with Coral, are killed by a marauding Barracuda. The sole-surviving egg is Nemo, who as a young fish (Alexander Gould) rebels against his father’s caring sternness. He foolishly escapes, and begins a series of adventures that take him down south. Desperate to find his son, Marlin teams up with Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who is good-hearted fish, but who suffers from short-term memory loss. Their interaction is wonderfully scripted, and Dory’s forgetfulness creates some great comic moments, that are laugh-aloud funny.
Nemo is netted by a scuba diver, and Marlin and Dory read an address on the diving mask he left behind, which gives them the clue to Nemo’s whereabouts. They set off for Sydney harbour, hitch a ride on the back of a friendly sea turtle, and catch the East Australian Current. The turtles spread the story of their plight, and the animals of the ocean carry the message to Nemo, who has reached Sydney. However, Nemo is trapped in a dentist’s fish tank. There, with the help of his fish friends, he narrowly avoids the clutches of Darla (LuLu Ebeling), an aggressive child, who has a reputation for being overenthusiastically nasty toward goldfish.
Eventually, a whale, that has swallowed Marlin and Dory, expels them into Sydney Harbour. Thinking Nemo is lost to him, Marlin heads back home, but he and Nemo are re-united with the help of Dory, whose memory recovers for a short while. The final scenes of the movie show Nemo heading off to fish school with his Dad. Marlin now knows that Nemo can look after himself, and he needs to respect that.
This film combines the nostalgia effects of seeing a wonderful movie again with the extra realism that the 3D format provides. The movie as a whole is a veritable cascade of different adventures with colourful characters, lively action, and wonderful reef scenery, all vividly enhanced by the depth-of-field that the 3D process provides. The quality of animation, typical of Pixar Animation Studios, is outstanding. Everything is brightly coloured, sharply delineated, and the movie is almost perfect for the 3D format, which captures the imagination of the original film in an intensely vivid way.
The question one has to ask is whether this is a movie worth seeing again in the new format. The answer to this question is an unqualified “Yes”. The 3D version is worth the return trip, and the extra price of the 3D ticket. The original classification of the film gave the advice that “Some scenes may frighten young children”. This consumer message has been maintained, but in the 3D format, those scenes are scarier, as killer sharks, marauding fish, snarly-toothed Darla, and swooping pelicans project themselves out to you, seated in the cinema. But that shouldn’t be a problem to parents, if they are sitting by their young children to capture their enjoyment. The positive messages of this film about father-child bonding and caring parenting overwhelm any scariness along the way.
This is a delightful film, which benefits greatly from 3D animation. Those who enjoyed it back in 2003 will live through that enjoyment again with extra delight.
Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Walt Disney Studios.
Out August 30th. 2012.