Directed by Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane Starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence, Idris Elba, & Sigourney Weaver Film Review by Chris Olson
If audiences were going to trust any studio to do a long-time-coming sequel to a beloved classic it is going to be Pixar. Cars 2 aside, the animation studio has frequently proven itself as a fervent deliverer of fantastic stories even if audiences already know the characters. Whilst they are one of the biggest profiteers from merchandise and repeat marketing, their films cannot be accused of "cashing in" when they take 5 years to make and involve such huge levels of commitment and investment (see the never-ending credits). Given the huge success of Toy Story and Monsters Inc, both of which had popular sequels, it's unsurprising that Pixar would continue the franchise for everyone's favourite fish - Nemo. Finding Nemo had such a rich world of characters and depth, not to mention massive global popularity, that a new storyline would not have been difficult to conjure. So...is Finding Dory the strong swimmer sequel? Or the bottom-dwelling bungle? As the title suggests, Pixar are throwing their weight behind everyone's favourite forgetful fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) for this outing, which was both a bold and safe move - her zany antics as a side character being very popular with audiences, but could it withstand a full film? Unlike the disappointing Minions dilemma, Finding Dory manages to extend the shallow appeal of Dory's character into something far more fulfilling and enriching. Her backstory and arc are fleshed out with plenty of emotional gravitas, whilst keeping the familiar, perilous style of storytelling that made the first film such a hit.
This movie tells the story of Dory searching for her parents, whom she lost when she was young and ventured off into the vast ocean. Remembering only snippets of her youth, Dory struggles not only to remember her parents but also with her own guilt about her affliction and how it affects others. This leads her on an adventure which involves a rescue centre for fishes and plenty of dangerous escapades, whilst Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and his dad Marlin (Albert Brooks) attempt to keep up with Dory, and bring her back to safety. Beautifully crafted and visually stunning, this animated movie is another impressive outing from Pixar, that serves up endless frames of gorgeous scenery and vibrant characters. But far from being a pretty screensaver, Finding Dory is created from a palette of super characters, a witty script and touching, emotive themes. The movie is layered with so much detail and artistry that audiences can take as little or as much as they like, and still feel as satisfied as a sea lion on a rock on a hot day (Idris Elba performing this role amply).
The only real fault with the film is a slight tendency to get carried away. There are a few scenes where the believability levels are too tested, and the exhaustive nature of the opening section could put some viewers off if they are not overdosing on sugary treats. That being said, the film quickly settles into a steady rhythm and Dory's chaotic nature is toned down considerably. In a summer of reboots, sequels and comic capers, the Pixar guys and gals have stepped up as one of the most reliable deliverers, a worthy achievement considering the expectations of a film like this. Families will be pleased with the continued spirit from Nemo's adventure and the added plot for Dory was a worthwhile endeavour done with charm and care. A third film, whilst probable, would need to deviate more so from the familiar structure, but with the right story and same love and attention it would surely be another hit.