director Andrew Stanton
viewed: 09/15/2012 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
As I’ve stated here in the past, I’m not a fan of 3-D, and so this whole retrofitting of 2-D films with 3-D technology (a la The Lion King (1994)) and releasing them to theaters to make not just “more money” but to make more money by over-charging for the whole thing really sticks in my craw. I balk at 3-D at every chance I can. So, when Finding Nemo (2003) was being re-released in 3-D, it wasn’t high on my list of things to do.
But we’re going through one of those “down” periods for films with kids in the cinema, and a Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do rolled along and we found ourselves in West Portal, making up our day as it was going. Luckily, the early show at the Empire Theater wasn’t even in 3-D, so it was just revisiting a film that I remembered, but the kids didn’t really know all that well. Clara had seen it in parts. Felix didn’t remember his first time seeing it (unsurprisingly).
Finding Nemo has worn well in its near decade since release. The animation and design still looks lush an beautiful, particularly the underwater worlds. It hasn’t set as well with me over time as a story. It’s very emotional, yanking at the heartstrings throughout, from the very get-go. But its charms and its merits are all still intact as well.
Albert Brooks voices Marlin, a single father clownfish who loses his wife and all but one of his offspring before the title sequence comes onscreen. So, in over-protective kvetchingness, he coddles his little child in a fear of the ocean (the world that they live in). And when the little guy, Nemo, gets snatched in a net by a diver, the unlikely adventure begins, which takes Marlin out of his element and into the rest of the world in an adventure that proves his love and dedication to his lost son.
The characterization is great, particularly the character of Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, and Bruce, the vegetarian shark (Barry Humphries) is a signature creation. And the animation, sequences, characterization…it’s all that top of the line work that has defined Pixar as a studio, the gold standard in the digital animation industry.
Director Andrew Stanton would go on to helm WALL-E (2008) and this year’s box office bomb John Carter (2012). WALL-E and Finding Nemo are now part of Pixar’s cache of “classics”, able to re-capitalized on, sequelized, retrofitted technologically, and re-shown. The fact is that it’s a good film, a very nice, albeit emotionally heavy-handed, kids film, still very intense and scary and dramatic for tykes, still a good film for most.