Few movies are as highly anticipated as Pixar’s, with good reason. And of all Pixar movies, Finding Dory may be the most highly anticipated one yet. That’s a lot of expectations to live up to.
Sequels are difficult to get right. While everyone wants more of their favourite movie, often it turns out that what you get isn’t what you wanted at all, for example the endless sequels of Ice Age. All too often, it’s just plain best to avoid anything that has a big fat number 2 in the title. Luckily enough, Finding Dory does not have that problem. It’s still a sequel though, and that always comes with some problems.
Most people will still remember Finding Nemo, the search of clown fish Marlin, voiced by Albert Brookes, for his lost son Nemo, voiced by Hayden Rolence and Dory, Marlin’s travel companion. She’s a Pacific Regal Blue Tang, and probably the friendliest fish in the ocean. What makes her so unforgettable is her short term memory. She will forget conversations in the middle of them, and sadly, she can’t even remember her own family. So when she finds Nemo and Marlin, she decides to stick around, and they become her new family.
Dory is just as surprised as everybody else when she wakes up one day and actually remembers something about her past. Being Dory, she also immediately forgets it again, but luckily she’s got Nemo and Marlin to help her remember. They decide to set off on a journey to find Dory’s family. But when Dory gets separated from the group, it’s not just about finding Dory’s old family, it’s also about finding Dory, before she forgets her new family too.
Dory is the obvious choice for a sequel. Nothing is known about her past. She’s voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, who has been waiting years for the chance to lend her voice to the little blue fish again. With Dory’s disabilities, and Pixar’s impressive ability to handle these flaws in characters, it’s no surprise that this movie has been eagerly anticipated for years now.
Let’s get the obvious things out of the way first.
Sea Kelp is Beautiful
The animation is stunning. It’s not easy to get that underwater feeling right, but they did it in Finding Nemo, and now, thirteen years later, it looks even better. It doesn’t have the amazing scenery that dominated The Good Dinosaur, but it turns out sea weed can look just as pretty as a mountain range. I almost feel bad saying this, but it’s the prettiest sea kelp I’ve ever seen. I don’t think sea kelp is this pretty in real life. The only place you’re going to find better animation is in Pixar’s short film Piper, which is shown just before Finding Dory. But we all know that Pixar is the king of animation, so this is really just expected.
Finding Dory is not just about finding oneself, but also overcoming personal difficulties, such as Dory with her short term memory loss, Nemo with his tiny fin, or Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a whale shark who has very poor eye sight. Nearly everyone has some kind of disability, large or small, but they don’t hold anybody back. The story and characters are handled beautifully, with each character given room to grow and learn over the course of the film. Often, films struggle just to get the main character to grow up just a bit. But again, this is something Pixar has proven time and time again.
Great animation, characters and storytelling. These are things most Pixar movies have, if not all of them. But there’s something the really great Pixar movies have, that is much rarer. Movies like Up, Wall-E and Finding Nemo are special, because they have a sense of greatness about them. It’s small people, accomplishing great things. Marlin travels across a whole ocean to find his son, and Wall-E manages to save mankind with the help of a cricket.
Sometimes Less is More
Finding Dory is a wonderful film, that I believe adults and children alike will enjoy a lot. But it lacks this greatness, and while it’s hard to describe what exactly it lacks, there’s one thing I can pinpoint it to. Finding Dory is set in an aquarium. That’s right. No endless ocean, giant whales and deep sea fish. The film starts of with a stunning stingray migration, and then dumps us squarely in the Marine Life Institute. While Finding Nemo had a vastness about it, seeing all the people cram around a fish tank doesn’t just make Hank (Ed O’Neill) the octopus feel a bit anxious, it also makes me feel rather suffocated. In general, there’s just a lot happening. While many scenes in Finding Nemo got along just fine with three characters, and nothing in the background at all, Finding Dory can sometimes feel stuffed with things. There are prams, trucks, people, babies, and all kinds of other things, but there’s little room to breathe. There’s one scene, that’s set between the sea kelp that I adore so much, that just has Dory and a single white seashell in it. In this moment of calm, Pixar proves that it could easily have produced a sequel that’s just as good as Finding Nemo. Sadly, they just got sidetracked by all the pretty shiny things on the way.
Finding Dory is still a wonderful movie, that will not disappoint any fans of animated movies. It’s one of the few movies that can entertain anybody. But compared to what I know Pixar can offer, it falls just that tiny bit short of greatness.
Finding Dory will be in cinemas from the 29th of September. You shouldn’t miss this one.