Finding Nemo: Collector's Edition Review
Since its release early last year Finding Nemo has gone on to become the highest grossing animated feature of all time, finally ousting The Lion King from its near decade long perch. The fifth feature-length computer animated film from Pixar Studios is another work of brilliance from the same creative minds who since 1995 have delivered hit after hit from the excellent Toy Story and its sequel, to A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc.
From the kaleidoscope of colours on the coral reef to the stunning underwater effects, Finding Nemo is the most visually outstanding film Pixar have created so far. They have made a fantastic underwater environment that does a simply wonderful job of transporting you into that world. But this wouldn’t be a Pixar movie if they didn’t have a decent story to back up the breathtaking visuals.
At its heart Finding Nemo is the story of Marlin (Brooks) and his son Nemo (Gould). Due to a devastating past experience Marlin is a rather overprotective father who does not believe his son is quite ready to venture beyond the protective reef they call home. But on the first day of school Nemo tests his fathers will by swimming out into the depths of the ocean where a scuba diver captures him leaving Marlin distraught.
For the rest of the film Marlin embarks on a massive quest across the ocean to find his son. Along the way he is helped and sometimes hindered by the forgetful Dory (DeGeneres), a fish who suffers from short term memory loss but finds out where Nemo is by reading the ‘property of’ details on the divers mask that was left behind. On discovering that Nemo is in Sydney, Australia the pair set off on a journey which sees them encounter vegetarian sharks, a shoal of deadly jellyfish and thrill seeking surfer dude turtles.
With its ocean full of colourful characters, Finding Nemo is the perfect moulding of comedy and genuine emotional sentiment. It is an excellent film that appeals to both kids and adults alike.
Finding Nemo boasts an excellent THX certified 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has been taken straight from the digital source. The resulting image is wonderfully detailed allowing the multicoloured sea creatures and various environments seen in the film a chance to shine. There does appear to be some mosquito noise around the characters (as Michael mentioned in his R1 DVD review), but I am happy to say I don’t think this is as bad on the R2.
The disc houses both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 5.1 surround audio tracks. This is a very natural sounding mix that does a brilliant job of recreating the effect of being in the underwater environments seen in the film. While there are not many impressive sound effects moments when they do happen the bass is very effective while the dialogue is always clear and Thomas Newman’s score works very well with the film. In the UK we have the bonus of a DTS mix that seems to be more powerful and is a welcome addition giving UK consumers a choice over which format to listen to in comparison to the R1 release which only has the Dolby option.
Before we begin it is worth noting Buena Vista’s decision to once again forego the option to include subtitles for the hearing impaired on the bonus content found on this set. This really is a poor show considering the heavyweight nature of both the film and publisher in comparison to other titles being released today complete with subtitles on all features.
Packaged in a dual amaray case with a shiny outer cardboard sleeve this is a good looking set. The same care and attention has obviously gone into the menus which are quite impressive featuring various underwater locations complete with background animation such as fish swimming around and plant life swaying in the water. A nice touch is having the voices of the main characters prompt you to make a selection should you be taking your time.
Directors Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich offer a brief one-minute introduction to the first disc and are then joined by co-writer Bob Peterson for the visual commentary track where they provide a lively banter and plenty of laughs along the way. The comments they make throughout the duration of the film are always informative from discussing various aspects of the production, from the story and casting to technical problems that were encountered during filming.
At certain points within the commentary you will be shown additional materials via seamless branching technology. These materials consist of deleted scenes, featurettes on the underwater lighting process, animation tests, footage from the recording sessions, a brief isolated music and effects score demonstration, and finally a short clip of the director pitching his original ideas for the film.
Rounding out the features found on disc one is a sneak peek at Pixar’s next computer animated feature film, The Incredibles, and seven Virtual Aquariums which allow you to turn your TV into a screensaver. This is certainly a novel feature and whilst ultimately fairly pointless the images are very colourful and are nice to have on in the background.
Directors Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich are back for another brief one-minute introduction to disc two which features a variety of bonus features.
Making Nemo - This is a fairly decent making of documentary that covers everything from storyboarding to research, character design and modelling to simulation and animation. There is a particularly impressive split screen sequence that compares live footage from a dive the animators went on to the computer animated version, where it really is difficult to tell which is real and which is the computer.
Design Galleries - Consisting of three sub-sections you will find artwork from the film in Art Review that can be viewed with music playing in the background or with audio commentary from the artists who created the drawings. A Characters section includes brief design work on most of the characters seen in the film while Environments looks at the three main locations seen in the film (the reef, ocean and Sydney harbour). Colour Scripts are used to inspire the film’s lighting by outlining the stories colours, moods and the time of day, and there are plenty here to demonstrate exactly how this is done.
Studio Tour - Presented by Alexander Gould, the young actor who provides the voice of Nemo, this is a short tour around Pixar to see how the animators brought the films characters to life.
Character Interviews - Included here are some short, specially created interviews with Marlin, Dory and Nemo.
Publicity - In this section there are four trailers for the film, a Robbie Williams music video for “Beyond the Sea” (this is exclusive to the R2), three fishy facts about Sharks, Turtles and Pelicans (these are basically TV spots) and a gallery of the various poster and print campaigns that were used to promote the film.
Exploring the Reef with Jean-Michael Cousteau and all your Nemo friends (7mins) - This is a little film from the experienced French underwater explorer who tells us all about the reef. In it he is joined by several characters from the film who continuously interrupt him with hilarious results.
Knick Knack - This classic Pixar Animation Studios short was attached to cinema prints of Finding Nemo when it played in cinemas last year. Created back in 1989 (six years before Toy Story was released) the short has undergone some changes since, namely the blonde girl featured has had her breasts reduced in size. You can find out why exactly by listening to the optional audio commentary by writer, director and animator John Lasseter and technical director Eben Ostby.
Mr Ray’s Encyclopaedia - With Nemo’s school teacher Mr Ray as your guide you will learn about the real life sea creatures from the film complete with footage of the creatures in their natural environments.
Fisharades’ - A fun little game where you have to work out what the fishes are creating from the images given at the bottom of the screen. You have to choose the correct one using your remote before the jellyfish reaches the top of the screen.
Story Time - This is an interactive story feature that has been designed especially for the kids. They can either follow the story with a narrator or they can choose to read it at their own pace.
Virtual Aquariums - As with disc one you will find more Virtual Aquariums to display on your television.
Easter Eggs - There are four hidden features spread across the two discs that give you access to an advert for the tank cleaner seen in the film or simply prompt Dory to swim across the screen spouting silly things.
Finding Nemo is an excellent film and DVD that has two superb audio tracks (in the UK we get DTS), stunning visuals straight from the digital master and an extras package that just like the film has something for everyone.