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Disney In Depth: Blu-ray Review: Finding Nemo
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Finding Nemo Blu-ray cover

Finding Nemo
3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD l 5-Disc 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital
Directed by Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Starring Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Stephen Root, Geoffrey Rush, Vicki Lewis, Austin Pendleton, Joe Ranft
Disney-Pixar
Release Date: December 4, 2012

Ready to return to the Great Barrier Reef? Nearly one decade after its initial theatrical release, Finding Nemo 3D swam onto film screens, and now film fans can possess this in their Blu-ray libraries. Mine!

For my thoughts on the brilliant fifth feature from Pixar, read my original review of the movie here. This review is dedicated to all of the special features to be found on the latest version.

BONUS FEATURES

Disc 2

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable serves as a fantastic seventeen-minute look back into the development of the 2003 feature, featuring Ralph Eggleston (Production Designer), Andrew Stanton (Director), Bob Peterson (Screenwriter), Graham Walters (Producer), Lee Unkrich (Co-Director) and Oren Jacob (Technical Lead). “We all know nature’s a predatory world,” Stanton says, in describing the sudden death of Marlin’s wife, Coral, the set-up of the movie. Ironically, it seemed like for a while that the film was the “prey” of many critics. Some predicted Nemo to be Pixar’s first flop, not as “sexy” as the forthcoming The Incredibles feature by Brad Bird, but obviously those naysayers were wrong.

The production focused on attending to detail, as crew members visited Monterey, California and Hawaii to go scuba-diving, in an effort to capture the feel of the underwater environment. They surely conducted their research, as evidenced in heading to a sewage treatment plant. Stanton and friends discuss Ellen DeGeneres’ and Albert Brooks’ participation on the project, including some cut lines. The anemone was quite a technical challenge to accurately replicate, on top of capturing the feelings of the featured sea creatures, which in reality, do not visually demonstrate much emotion. Yet they pulled through, and very successfully at that. “I know I’ll never work on anything that will be as long-lasting and in the zeitgeist as Nemo was,” Stanton says. The effects of Nemo have seeped into the culture, from the seagulls’ “mine” line to kids shouting “Nemo” at the aquarium.

Aquarium displays the “home screen” of the Blu-ray disc, a tranquil, non-stationary shot of Nemo’s reef, free of other visuals or music.

Dory, Squirt and the turtles listen to Marlin's epic journey

Cine-Explore allows viewers to watch Finding Nemo along with commentary by its filmmakers and additional visuals accompanying the feature. Think of this as watching multiple movies at once, an absorbing, if not overpowering experience. Don’t attempt to view the Pixar film as the primary practice, but instead a treat that supplements the bonus material. The content, supplied by Stanton, Unkrich, Peterson and others, flows from topics as varied as lighting and voice storytelling techniques. Though this commentary caries over from the original DVD version, the picture-in-picture format works to enhance the experience.

Reinventing the Submarine Voyage presents the challenging situation in bringing back the subs to Disneyland after many years’ absence, in this excellent fifteen-minute feature. Imagineer Bob Gurr shares the background of Walt Disney’s classic attraction back in the late 1950s, whereas Tom Fitzgerald, Kathy Mangum and other Imagineers discuss its reimagining. The archival footage and photographs of the original lagoon’s construction is a sight to be held. Viewers can also appreciate the historical connection to the real ship that took voyagers to the North Pole. I love the crisp shots of the old Submarine Voyage attraction, including the temporary inclusion of “actual” mermaids. After its demise in 1998, the Imagineers considered reviving it with an Atlantis: The Lost Empire theme, but unfortunately that idea never came to light. Amazingly the original Disneyland submarines were preserved, with the hopes that they could one day be used again. And then Nemo opened and became a sensation. Hit! Imagineer Roger Gould said creating the Finding Nemo version was his biggest attraction challenge. To avoid paint fading from the chlorine and sunlight, the Imagineers implemented natural-looking colored glass. Many elements of the original attraction, including props and audio, were maintained for this version. Now I want to see an entire 90-minute documentary based around this conversion.

A Lesson in Flashbacks involves Stanton presenting the difficulties behind detailing a back-story via storyboards. In the eight-minute feature, viewers see these segments involving Coral’s and Marlin’s first encounter, their initial search for a home, her pregnancy, watching their eggs and the tragic sequence. Stanton wanted something different than the typical “A-B” structure, but ultimately the intermingling of flashbacks did not prove effective in making Marlin likeable. He then approached the film much more linearly to help the audience connect with the father clownfish.

Deleted Scene: Alternative Opening shares how Nemo may have started had director Stanton not changed his vision to reflect a more cohesive picture. This three-minute clip shows a colored storyboard sequence of Nemo’s first day of school, complete with scratch footage.

Knick KnackTheatrical Short showcases the four-minute 1989 film with Knick the snowglobe-trapped snowman and the bikini-clad beauty he yearns to reach.

At first Marlin and Dory fear Bruce, a Great White Shark

Disc 3

Aquariums transform the television screen into a virtual scope into the sea.

Art Review, featuring narration by some of the Nemo crew, platforms dozens of pastels, sketches and other imagery in the span of eight-and-a-half minutes. Stunning work and great insight.

Making Nemo also carries over from the DVD, passing along insight into the film’s creation, from developing ideas during road trips to capturing the water’s murky appearance. Though the Filmmakers’ Roundtable featurette serves much the same purpose, at least viewers can check out this twenty-three minute “documentary,” too.

Studio Tour involves Alexander Gould, the voice of Nemo, exploring the cool and kinetic Pixar grounds (circa 2003). If only all workplaces allowed staff to ride scooters life would be more fun.

Old School brings a bunch of miscellaneous, little extras.

Deleted Scenes hold a collection of scrapped storyboard sequences, each charming but not essential to the finished product.

Publicity Pieces is rather self-explanatory, full of shorts to promote the feature.

Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia allows viewers to learn more about the real-life fishy friends found in the film.

Outtakes are very short clips of various vocal performances, each under one minute, and pretty insignificant.

Exploring the Reef is a fun seven-minute mockumentary with ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau attempting to cover environmental issues, to no luck, due to Dory, Marlin and Nemo constantly interrupting him.

PRESENTATION

As one could expect, Disney-Pixar delivers in offering an absolutely terrific visual presentation with perhaps the most colorful classic in its library. The crystal blue ocean sparkles with majesty whereas the intimidating submarine-set scene chills with dim delight. This could not be a better-looking Blu-ray, and its unmistakably clear audio harmonizes it all.

Film: A
Bonus Features: A-
Presentation: A+

Overall Grade: A

Marlin and Dory ride along the East Australian Current with their new turtle friends

Without reservation, if you do not already own this tremendous feature on Blu-ray, get a copy right away. No home video collection is complete without Finding Nemo, so keep on swimming until you have a copy of this masterpiece.

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Return back to Disney In Depth next week for even more Disney-themed fun, and be sure to receive updates of new editions by following me on Twitter. Have a good week!

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