Finding Dory (3D) (2016) (Review)

On the search for Nemo back in 2003, one loveable, amnesiac yet unforgettable sidekick captured audience's hearts. 13 years later, she managed to find herself in a sequel, Finding Dory, this time taking the starring role. Of course, the picture is the seventeenth in Disney Pixar's filmography (a studio renown for its quality - check out my ranking of every Pixar film here), and everyone's hopes were incredibly high for the sequel as Nemo remains one of the highest-grossing films in the studio's history, along with it being the highest selling DVD, ever, worldwide. Pixar have experienced both ends of the 'sequel success' rating, but is Finding Dory closer in quality to Toy Story 2 or Cars 2?

Amnesiac fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) begins to remember elements of her childhood, including her parents, whom she was separated from when she was young. Determined to find them, she begins her adventure across the ocean but gets separated from Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (the newly-cast Hayden Rolence). Now wanting to reunite with both families, she meets a whole host of new friends at the Marine Life Institute to help her along the way, including Hank the Octopus (Ed O'Neill), Destiny the near-sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson) and Bailey the beluga whale (Ty Burrell). With a rousing tale that teaches of friends, family, overcoming adversary and love, this is quintessentially Pixar and another jewel in their crown.

As with Finding Nemo, Finding Dory is swimming in heart and charm, capturing the same level of depth as its predecessor with lovely ingenuity and a multitude of touching moments, without ever feeling like a retread. Manoeuvring between beautiful set pieces and locations, the film is continually moving and evolving towards the resolution, while being completely engaging from beginning to end: even when we follow the two different stories, they cross beautifully and you are invested in each equally. While it may not feel as fresh as Finding Nemo did (which, in many ways, pushed animation to places it had never been before, following in the footsteps of Toy Story), Dory definitely wins on the humour side, proving to be relentlessly amusing, from Dory's forgetfulness to the new character's individual quirks that ensure they are as memorable as those from the first film; in fact, that's another area the film excels in - the voice cast are magnificent, bringing to life the characters and ensuring they suit their traits. DeGeneres is, of course, an absolute joy as the titular character and whilst I doubted whether the character could truly be the 'star', she proved me wrong, by making Dory as endearing as she was the first time. The charm certainly hasn't worn off. Baby Dory (Sloane Murray) is also incredibly adorable and makes you fall in love with Dory in a new way completely.

On a technical note, Dory also soars; the colour palettes used throughout are gorgeous and, despite being set in the water for the vast majority of the time, each scene has its own slight deviation in the blue-green colour scheme that ensures it does not morph into one, keeping it exciting and innovative. The attention to detail is thorough and carefully crafted, from the precise movement of Hank to the individual crafted bubbles - the screen is full to the brim of absolute wonders to be amazed at and behold, making this arguably one of Pixar's most stunning films to date. The way in which the ethereal haze defines the past from the present is dazzling, as well as the transformation between these two times, managing to connect the two events coherently.

When you really have to think of elements to improve, it suggests that you have something special on your hands. While some scenes strongly echo the original more than they probably should, it feels lively enough and radically different to the original in many others areas, despite an abundance of factors remaining the same (characters, cast, general template of the story). It sometimes makes some pretty big leaps in the story to get the characters where they need them to be but that can be forgiven considering the otherwise brisk movement of the plot. It also doesn't feel quite as inventive as the original did, but animation has evolved so drastically because of Pixar that they have already done enough with their earlier offerings.

Whilst the gorgeous animation, impressive voice cast and technical skill are all incredibly important and central to the film's overall success, it is the subtlety in its inspiring themes that make Finding Dory work so profoundly. The plethora of messages - home, identity, love, family - gives something for all the family to appreciate, and learn from, without ever feeling heavy-handed or out of place. Finding Dory is evidence that it takes multiple elements to make a film successful and Pixar pass each of them with flying colours. I can nit-pick and go searching for flaws but at the end of it, Dory's own determination reflects that of Pixar's to craft another incredible tale and, like the theme song suggests, it really is unforgettable.


Summary: Finding Dory is swimming in heart, warmth and charm, with stunning animation, incredible technical skill, a solid vocal cast and a touching story, offering yet another superbly crafted film and a new jewel to wear proudly in their crown.

Highlight: The inspiring themes, the beautiful tale and the gorgeous animation/technical skill are all up there... I think I need to watch it again to decide...

3D: The 3D goes along way in enhancing the beautiful landscapes and animation and whilst it probably works just as well without, this is one worth the extra money.