The first time I saw Finding Nemo, I was a recalcitrant spectator. A movie about a bunch of fish under the sea just didn’t seem quite appealing. The marketing push was equally uninspiring. It was the era of the Pixar behemoth, where Disney lost its grip on animated features. Yet, the trailers for Finding Nemo were as bland as any Disney movie at the time. Had Pixar lost its knack for innovation? Toys coming to life – that’s cool. Fish that swim – been there done that. Surprisingly, the world (including myself) was proven wrong when Nemo took the screen. The story of a clownfish and his lost son was an inspiring tale, masterfully depicted through a vibrant ocean frontier – the likes of which had never been captured in a theatrical release. Finding Nemo was a skillful accomplishment of animated prowess, intelligent storytelling and a whole lot of Ellen DeGeneres comedy.
Almost a decade later, Finding Nemo gets its first Blu-ray release just after it returned to theaters for a limited time in 3D.
I have watched Finding Nemo several times since its theatrical release. However, when watching this film in standard definition, it’s easy to forget the color depth Pixar was able to capture in this wondrous aquatic world. From the moment Marlin and his son swim out onto the reef together in HD, the picture is nothing short of exquisite. The fish-school scene captures a broad spectrum of colors, which quickly brings life to what would otherwise be a mundane blue world. Red, marine blue, ping, orange, green and yellow colors pop instantaneously without feeling overtly saturated. Throughout the film, when new aquatic creatures are introduced – such as the jellyfish or the sea turtles – the same vivacious color palette continues to standout.
There is something really amazing about watching a film that is set almost eighty to ninety percent underwater, but yet each scene looks wholly unique. Some areas are completely devoid of life, depicting the ocean as a barren wasteland. This stands in sharp contrast to the opening school scene, which feels more like a bustling urban city. And both of these are starkly different from the salt water tank Nemo finds himself a prisoner in.
Then, there is the East Australian Current. It’s really just a current, with wave lines carrying the sea turtles, Nemo and Dora. However, the animation team worked did a brilliant job with color separation to contrast this scene with earlier scenes. When the turtles finally enter the rapids section of the EAC, it feels like a horizontal waterfall. It may sound crazy, but one section of water having a different look from another section of water is an accomplished feat. It works well with the jellyfish scene. The water is a lighter color, which makes everything feel less dangerous. But you quickly realize that Dora and Nemo are in an extremely dangerous situation.
The sound has been upgraded to 7.1 Dolby. Vocal tracks don’t feel drowned out by ambient sounds or music tracks. Underwater explosions are as explosive as they should be and help to intensify the subtle thrills in Finding Nemo. There are a few special features on the Blu-ray release including a retrospective with the production team.
Overall, Finding Nemo is a remarkable Blu-ray release. The HD upgrade is welcome and definitely worth it even if you already own the DVD.