In 2003, Pixar introduced us to Marlin, Nemo, and Dory in the Academy Award Winning animated film, Finding Nemo. Now 13 years later, the world’s favorite forgetful fish is swimming solo and carrying her own film in Finding Dory. But with Pixar sequels, will this be as great as Toy Story 3, or just another Cars 2?
One year after the events of the first film, Dory suddenly recalls her childhood memories. Remembering something about "the jewel of Morro Bay, California", accompanied by Nemo and Marlin, she sets out to find her family. She arrives at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, where she meets Bailey, a white beluga whale; Destiny, a whale shark; and Hank, an octopus, who becomes her guide.
It’s nice to reunite characters you remember so fondly of. With Finding Dory, you feel like you’re reuniting with family you haven’t seen in a very long time. So seeing Nemo, Marlin, Dory and the rest of the characters from the first film is such a pleasure to see on screen again because it gives you well deserved nostalgic memories. The film’s inclusion of new characters doesn’t only benefit the story, but also manages to keep the film extremely entertaining. This mainly goes to Ed O’Neill who plays a cranky Octopus named Hank who slowly has a heart of gold (well three hearts of gold).
So you know how Cars 2 was really all about Mater trying to carry his own film and how much he ultimately failed to do so? The real question with this is for a forgetful character like Dory, is she able to carry her own film on her own? Thankfully the answer is yes. As much as her short term memory loss was played for laughs in Finding Nemo, in this it’s rather pretty tragic and depressing how she was born with it and how it affects others including her own parents. Its as if during the production of this, the filmmakers went back to Dory’s conditions and realized how messed up it was using her memory as a comic relief. So as they awkwardly backed away from there, they applied her memory as a way to build on a story similar to the style of The Tree of Life where each memory she gains it helps her get out of a certain situation.
Just like a lot of Pixar films, this benefits from a genuinely moving story. The emotion in this film is real and genuine. The film also challenges a good lesson for parents and people to not be prejudice with people with disabilities but instead be patient with.
As much as 2003’s Nemo was an animated gem, Dory is unable to reach those tremendous heights. The story is pretty predictable and formulaic to other Pixar films which leads to the big action sequence in the third act. With Nemo, we traveled across the entire ocean which felt like a huge adventure in a short run time. With this we’re running around one setting which feels like a short adventure in a short run time. So this doesn’t have much sense of urgency as most Pixar films has. Nevertheless this is still a good movie and better than most sequels out there these days.
The animation in this is beautiful, but since it has been 13 years, the animation is updated. The design of the new characters are stellar and the new set pieces we see in this world are incredible. the film benefits from a lot of realistic backgrounds and slicker animation on the humans and the new aquatic friends Dory makes. The only issue is that with the characters we’re familiar with, their designs and animation are unbearably brighter and less familiar to the animation in ’03. The CG in 2003 wasn’t only amazing for its time, but for how it is now. There was a sense of stable and colorfully darker animation with Nemo, but it feels that Pixar has to abide by the animation norm from CG films these days do by having everything be extremely bright and it takes some time to be conformable with it.
Though Finding Dory isn’t the perfect Pixar sequel that we wished for, reuniting with the characters that we know and love with the addition to new ones and a very thought out story and style makes this journey unforgettable.