Finding Dory movie full length review - Did We Really Need A Sequel To Finding Nemo? No. Am I Glad That It Exists? Yes.
Finding Nemo was love at first sight. It was a breathtaking, bewitching & beautifully balanced underwater adventure that didn't just dazzle viewers around the globe with its e
motionally rich tale about parenting, friendship, trust & determination but also cemented Pixar's position as a pioneer of quality cinema and a powerhouse of originality, creativity, imagination & groundbreaking computer animation. Add to that, it is still counted amongst the greatest achievements of animation filmmaking.
In all honesty, I never wanted a sequel to Finding Nemo. That classic is perfect in every way, and I believed its sequel to be an unnecessary risk that would end up denting the legacy of the original. And yet, a part of me is pleased that it exists because Andrew Stanton has crafted this follow-up chapter with same passion, heart & dedication with which he crafted the first one. By all means, Finding Dory is no match to the original but then it also is no cash-grab sequel like Cars 2 was. There's a sense of déjà-vu in this tale but it also brims with just enough freshness to qualify as a welcome successor to a beloved masterpiece.
Set one year after the events of the first film, the story of Finding Dory follows Dory, the regal blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss who starts having fragmented dreams & flashbacks of her life before she met Marlin & Nemo, and ultimately decides to find her family. Heading to the place where she vaguely remembers having seen her parents last, Dory is caught by volunteers of a Marine Life Institute and is put into the quarantine section where she meets a seven-legged red octopus named Hank, who agrees to take her to her loved ones in exchange for something. Meanwhile, Marlin & Nemo try to get into the institute in an attempt to rescue Dory.
Co-written & directed by Andrew Stanton (best known for Finding Nemo & WALL?E), Finding Dory opens with a flashback segment that introduces us to our titular character as an infant, covers her separation from her family, and then follows her journey over the years until she finally meets Marlin for the first time. And this opening sequence wonderfully sets the stage for the rest of the picture as Stanton sensibly addresses the themes of family, separation & identity, returns to Dory's childhood whenever possible, and although it results in some sort of fractured narrative, it also influences the next set of events that unfold afterwards, thus working in favour of the story.
The screenplay is brilliantly penned down as well, for it retains the heart, soul & wit of the original, while adding more emotional weight & depth to our forgetful fish. While it is more melancholic than its predecessor, that element isn't overused and the story remains a fun-filled entertainer throughout its runtime. The oceanic life is revisited only briefly since majority of its plot unfolds in a marine institute, and yet the fauna beneath the sea is gorgeously rendered & meticulously detailed. It also adds an ample amount of new characters with Dory promoted to lead role while both Marlin & Nemo settle for a seat behind a couple of fresh arrivals amongst whom Hank leaves a lasting impression.
Jaw-dropping 3D animation has always been Pixar's default setting from the start and this aspect remains unchanged with Finding Dory as the animators have done a terrific job once again, whether it's the underwater backgrounds, character designs or overall rendering of even the most minute details. Camera is splendidly utilised, images make use of all the vivid colours available in the palette, while pixel-perfect lighting gives it a more vibrant appearance. Editing skilfully interweaves Dory's past & present into an easily accessible storyline although the trimming of a few slow patches in the middle would have resulted in a more rigid narrative structure as well as improved pacing.
As always the case with Pixar films, the voice cast for new characters is wisely chosen while the reprising cast exhibits no trouble in immersing themselves into their given roles. Ellen DeGeneres was easily the standout in Finding Nemo and she is easily the standout in Finding Dory, for her character gets to play with deeper emotions this time without discarding her good-hearted, optimistic & delightfully charming persona. Rest of the supporting characters, both reprising & new play their part convincingly, And last but not the least, Thomas Newman contributes with a calm, touching & emotionally resonant score that stays within the realm of the original.
On an overall scale, Finding Dory is undoubtedly an accomplished sequel despite falling short of matching the greatness of its predecessor. Stanton's decision to go for a fresh & organic storyline instead of rehashing the same stuff is commendable and although not every attempt at humour works out in its favour, it remains a joyful ride from start to finish that will amuse both kids & adults alike. Did we really need a sequel to Finding Nemo? No. Is its existence justified? Somewhat. Am I glad that it exists? Yes. It doesn't take away anything from the original but it strengthens Pixar's position by a great deal, while simultaneously conveying to us that it is still capable of churning out sequels that are more than mere cash-grabs. Nostalgic, poignant & hilarious in rhythmic doses, Finding Dory marks yet another win for Pixar Animation Studios on critical, commercial & emotional scale. Highly recommended.