Film: Finding Dory.
Directed by: Andrew Stanton.
Running Time: 103 minutes.
There is nothing like the sight of colorful sparkly fish with great voice overs to experience the majesty of the ocean and your local Signorney Weaver narrated Fish hospital/park.
Finding Dory is the much anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo (2003) that had been in the works for the past 13 years. Unsurprising as the first installment was such a hit that it’s a surprise that Hollywood isn’t already on its fourth installment instead of its second. In this installment, it concentrates on the popular character, Dory, in a collection of present moment and flash backs telling an origin story/present adventure story of Dory’s search for her family.
The film is that a lot of the old crew that made Finding Nemo such a success returned to the making of the film. Andrew Stanton, who directed the first film returned as director (paired up with relative feature film newcomer co-director Angus Macleane), and many of the voice actors returned, such as Albert Brooks the famous writer and comedian reprising his role as Marlen, and of course the queen of talk shows herself Ellen DeGeneres as Dory.
Having Stanton manning the helm of its development has kept this film on an even keel where many films that have tread the choppy waters of long term development waters to break apart (The Good Dinosaur for Example), this film has made it into the dock with a solidly made film in which you can easily believe that it has earned the $287 million worldwide gross since it premiered June 8th.
The animation had the same high quality as the first film, with some really beautiful breathtaking imagery that shows the animation teams love of the watery kingdom. Though there was less variety of colorful settings like the first film, it did utilize what was presented in the best possible way, making an ordinary public Aquarium comically (and sometimes dangerously) fantastical .
The character designs with child Dory being the precious little fish bit adorkable without quite falling into Pwecious territory fortunately, and the designs of the other inhabitants of the exhibits was enjoyably done. The strongest design tenticles down though would have to be Hank, the cranky red octopus, with the excellent voice talent of Ed O’Niell, whose design has the smart decision of using his eyes as the dominant feature of body language communication.
Some of the strongest animations recognize the importance of the expression of the eyes.
in computer animation, though there has certainly been improvements over the years, a big flaw was the phenomenon known as “dead eyes” (The Polar Express is an excellent example of this), which accents the artificiality of the world being portrayed and generally comes across as a little unsettling. This is in part because the eyes are a common body language facet of communication among humans almost to a subconscious level.
A creative team that recognizes this important facet of human relation and communication, make it the most prominent feature of a character (particularly in a computer animation) tend to be the most successful in character design, as it helps foster greater empathy with a character, as well as puts a stamp of a high quality animation for the production company, which Pixar has in spades and is not afraid to show.
It doesn’t hurt that Hank, out side of his design, was a likable character as well, and his dynamic with Dory was easily the strongest feature of the film with dialogue that felt natural, entertaining, and engaging all at once, and definitely is one of the strongest factors in carrying the film, and a character who i can see getting his own movie if there is a third installment.
The story itself outside of the characters and animation, does holdup well. The present day and flash back transitions were clever in revealing not only Dory’s origins, but also in her psyche, as well as a plot of character development and resolution.
Granted it didn’t have the grand feel of the first film, but that’s as it should be. The first film was a heroic journey film, this one was a personal revelation story at a very internal and personal level on part of Dory, which the story does.It doesn’t need the grand oceanic delights and dangers to be what it is, with the first film about finding someone, and the second about finding one’s self.
If there were any weak points in the film, perhaps Nemo’s character didn’t feel particularly essential to the film. In fact his presence highlighted why you shouldn’t bring children into potentially dangerous or unknown situations. It weakens Marlen’s parental characterization, particularly after the first film going through the trouble of developing him in that quarter. Still, the focus was on Dory, so the draw backs are minor annoyances at best.
This film swims to the top and over he expectations going into this film, with its great animation, characters, and story it is a high recommendation for your summer viewing.
If you liked this review, please consider following me on my Patreon.