Pixar was back on a roll last year when they released Inside Out which earned them yet another Best Animated picture Oscar, granted it went downhill a bit with The Good Dinosaur, but I still thought that was a decent movie, as anyone who read my review will attest to, but the one thing I commented on in that review is that it was rather interesting that these were the first 2 original Pixar films in the last several years with the previous years entries from the studio being sequels to their previous films. They all had something in common, with the exception of the Toy Story sequels, they all sucked! Seriously, not one of these ever got it completely right, or actually even close.
Ok, first off, we have had a sequel to Cars and 2 spin offs to it, why? Cars is widely regarded as the worst Pixar movie, why would you want to follow up on that! Then we have Monsters University, which was a prequel to Monsters Inc. and it also sucked, mainly because, unlike the original film, there was absolutely no imagination to it, it’s just your typical College buddy movie, that’s it, I could just have easily watched Animal House, I don’t need to see Pixar do that. Pixar also announced that two of their next few films will be sequels to previous entries. One of them, which will be coming out in 2019 will be Incredibles 2, one Pixar film I actually wanted to get a sequel because I felt that that series of films had enough to work with and expand upon and I am really looking forward to seeing it and the other one is today’s film, finding Dory, a sequel to the mega hit Finding Nemo. I really remember going to see Finding Nemo in the cinema and it blowing my expectations even for the age I was at the time, I was about 12 or 13, I can’t remember, it came out in 2003. Though I will say that I didn’t think Finding Nemo needed a sequel, I thought it was concluded, it was a pretty set story, the characters developed I wasn’t sure there were many places for it to go, so I was disappointed to hear that this sequel was coming out. Also, Dory is a side character and I didn’t think pushing her to be the main character was the best idea. Those were my initial thoughts, but that being said, the trailers look great and since this film was released a month earlier in America, I was hearing really great things about it so my expectations went up for seeing the film.
The film has been co-written and co-directed by Andrew Stanton, the director of the original Finding Nemo who has also directed Wall-E and this is first directing job since the disastrous flop John Carter, incidentally the film is also co-directed by Angus MacLane who directed the Toy Story shorts that followed on from Toy Story 3, which I won’t claim to have seen, but I have heard good things about. So I thought the film was in good hands and I also heard a lot of interviews with Stanton talking about how passionately he felt about the project and how he wanted to go back to the world and finish off a few ideas he hadn’t managed to get in the first film, let’s see if that was all worth it.
The plot of Finding Dory takes place a year after the events of Finding Nemo. Dory (played by Ellen DeGeneres) is suddenly starting to remember that she lost her parents due to her short term memory problems and now wants to set out to find them. Having remembered that they are probably in California she sets off with Marlin and Nemo (played by Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence). They are picked up out of an Aquarium where Dory meets an Octopus named Hank (played by Ed O’Neill) and together they set out to explore the Aquarium to find Dory’s missing parents. Ok, if you are going in with the mindset that this is going to be a carbon copy of Finding Nemo, leave that mindset at the door, this film has a plot and identity of its own. I would still, however, recommend that you watch Finding Nemo again before you watch this film. This film does succeed where other Pixar films have done in the past, there is a very good main character, lots of decent jokes, a plethora of colourful side characters with a lot of quirks and the plot is very strong, having a good mix of drama and comedy. It does sound like a good mix, and for the most part it really works, it’s a really nice, fun, family film. The plot runs at a decent smooth pace and I can’t complain about its pacing or story telling, the dialogue is pretty good delivering decent lines and despite my apprehension, Dory a good main character. There’s not a lot to complain about with this film, in fact many of the running jokes from the previous film that I thought they were going to run to death in the sequel are that absent, the ‘just keep swimming’ song is only in the film once, thank goodness and there are very little references to the previous movie, in fact many of the characters, like Nigel the Pelican and the fish from the Dentist’s tank are entirely absent from the film, which I am rather grateful for because frankly there is nothing more to do with these characters. The only characters that briefly make a re-appearance are the Manta Ray teacher whose name I can’t remember and Crash the Turtle and again that is one of the weaker parts of the film because it is basically the same joke as last time, Marlin doesn’t like riding at high speed.
The biggest problem that I have is despite the fact that they actually have some really good side characters including a Whale Shark called Destiny (played by Kaitlin Olson) and a Beluga Whale called Bailey (played by Ty Burrell), I don’t think people will grab onto these side characters, for the lack of a better term, the same way they did in the previous film. They do have out there eccentric personalities, but not to the same degree I think the first film did, though clearly judging by his time in the film and the marketing Hank is clearly intended to be the main supporting character of the film. He was in all the posters, in all the trailers and outside Dory he probably gets the most screen time in the film. The problem with this though is that he just doesn’t have much of a character. It’s not a bad character per-say but it’s very clear that Pixar was counting on him being a big hit and I don’t think he will be. His character arc is rather artificial and doesn’t really feel like it comes full circle, it’s just kind of there because he needs a supporting character. Likewise the sheer number of supporting characters isn’t an issue, there are no more than there was in Finding Nemo, the difference between this and Finding Nemo is that I think Finding Nemo did a better balancing act with the main characters and the side characters and it felt like everyone had a reason to be there. In this one, it doesn’t quite work out, only because it’s detracting from one of the characters in the worst way possible, mainly Marlin and Nemo, they really don’t have that much of a reason to be here other than brand recognition, they don’t contribute all that much to the plot and not much of a character arc. on fact Marlin has kind of gone back slightly between films, he’s not the same neurotic character he was in the first film, but it’s hard to ignore a lot about it. The film also wisely ditches the Ocean setting for an Aquarium setting. The first film did pretty much everything that could be done with the Ocean setting so the change is very welcome and allows for a new variety of jokes and plot points. It also gives a reason for there to be human characters around, although none of them have faces, or at least not many of them do, so there’s no real human characters per se. Those are most of my nit picky issues.
What do I like about this film?
There’s not much to talk about with the cast. The cast feels more celebrity orientated than the previous film and with the Aquarium being set in California, it does mean that there is a lot more of an American cast whereas the previous cast were largely Australian, though I suspect the California setting was also put in place to gain a product placement for the famous Monteray Bay Aquarium that must have fallen through or not be in the film’s budget for whatever reason. As to be expected, Ellen DeGeneres is the best performance in the film, she really throws her all into playing Dory and she hasn’t detracted between films. Albert Brooks is still pretty good as Marlin and I think he delivers what he needs to do in order to give a good performance, but I think his part isn’t as well written as the first film. Likewise, Hayden Rolence is still pretty good as Nemo. I really liked Kaitlin Olson as Destiny and she gets some very funny deliveries. The performance that I was rather surprised didn’t make me laugh though was Ty Burrell of Modern Family Fame, who incidentally is the most recognisable voice in the cast list since he is just basically playing a Whale version of Phil from Modern Family, though he does get a few funny lines to do with him discovering his echo location. There are also a couple of weird small roles and cameos. Idris Elba and Dominic West both play a pair of Sea Lions and get a couple of funny lines every so often and the latter of which I didn’t realise was in the film until I checked IMDB and there is a really weird cameo of Sigourney Weaver playing herself as a voice over welcoming people to the Aquarium, but mind you, her presence in playing herself is one of the funniest parts of this whole film. We also get some scenes with Dory’s parents in flashback who are played by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy, again they deliver really good performances and I wasn’t aware it was them, which is rather surprising considering I am a bit of a Eugene Levy fan. Incidentally, while I am on the subject, I think Idris Elba and Margo Robbie are competing to see who can appear in the most films this year! Don’t those two ever sleep! Incidentally, great cast, and none of the performances really sink it. I think the best performance is Ellen DeGeneres, though Ed O’Neill is putting his effort in as well as Hank and you can really tell he puts his all into it. The cast also really deliver on the funny lines and I will be honest, I laughed a lot when I was in the cinema.
As for the animation, well here is where things get a bit tricky. I would have liked the animation to have been updated a bit, but that being said, I still think the animation in Finding Nemo holds up which is why it doesn’t appear that things have changed much in the 13 years between films, incidentally this is evident by the fact that one of the early scenes of the film is actually a direct scene lifted from Finding Nemo which has only received a few retro active updates. The Aquarium setting, really suits this animation style and it still works. The character designs still look pretty good and they deliver very good facial expressions which is kind of difficult to do on fish when you really think about it, even harder on an Octopus without making it look like squiggly diddley. If there is one thing that has gone down in the animation, it’s the human characters. The uncanny valley is definitely an effect with some of these guys. Luckily we don’t see that many of them, so it’s not really that important.
I saw the film in 3D and you know what, for once, it was actually kind of good for a change. There are a few scenes that are decently shot for the 3D format and the animation style really makes certain objects appear in the foreground and background really well, plus it gives an extra amount of depth, no pun intended, to several of the shots. I don’t think it is essential to see it in 3D though I do think a few of the shots will look kind of jerky if you see the film flat. If you can afford to see it in 3D then do so, it’s worth the extra expense.
Finding Dory can best be summed up as a good sequel. It’s very nice, charming and it’s a good afternoon out with the family. It’s not the best family film I have seen this year, it’s not the best animated film I have seen this year, but I still enjoyed myself. There are some very good jokes, the animation hasn’t received too much of an update, but still works and the characters are still nice and really likeable. The plot is very good and has a nice running character arc for its main character, though it’s slightly at the expense of the side characters and the performances are all round pretty decent. The hope going in was that this would be more Toy Story 3 than Cars 2 and they are absolutely right. It’s definitely one of the better sequels that Pixar has brought out. I still don’t think it’s as good as Toy Story 3 and I would be lying if I said that I thought this would be in my best films of 2016, but you know what, considering I saw this a week after Ice Age Collision Course, frankly, this was a breath of fresh air. Take the family to see this and if you can, watch Finding Nemo before doing so and if you liked Finding Nemo you will enjoy Finding Dory.
Now time to discuss what films I saw between this and Ghostbusters. We have more than I was expecting this week, though this was down to the fact that there were a few extra screenings that I wasn’t aware were happening, so I took advantage of this.
The films I saw this week included, Ice Age Collision Course, The BFG, Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne. I did go and see RWBY Volume 2 in cinemas but I am not going to count that one because it’s not a film and more of an entire season being shown in one go, though I am absolutely in love with the series and I would recommend you go out and buy all 3 seasons on Blu Ray, you can watch them on YouTube if you don’t want to purchase them and also on roosterteeth.com and you will gain them some money on the ad revenue.
Let’s start with “Ice Age Collision Course”, I already briefly alluded to that in my summary of Finding Dory. Ice Age Collision Course is a terrible movie. There is nothing more to explore with these characters, in fact most of the characters are just there out of necessity than actual reason to be in the plot. There are too many comic relief characters the Scrat the squirrel bits, which I normally find really funny aren’t funny anymore because they made the unbelievable idiotic decision to send him into space, I AM NOT JOKING. The lines aren’t funny either and the cast list is unbelievably stupid including Jesse J for some reason, who by the way, can’t act. The animation is still not great and the thing is just constant noise and things going on, it never lets up for 5 minutes, it’s made worse by the fact that it is so unnecessary. This should have gone straight to Netflix and I could have ignored it. Avoid at all costs and for goodness sake, we are 5 movies in at this point. Let this franchise end!!! By the way, anyone reading this expecting it to be part of my worst films of 2016 list, don’t count on it, Norm of the North was still way worse and that’s the only thing that saves it from that list.
“The BFG” was really good. It’s a nice, charming film and it’s Steven Spiellberg at his best. Mark Rylance does an excellent motion capture performance that does an excellent job taking over from David Jason’s who previously occupied the role and while there is not that much to it and it does kind of pad out the source material it’s a really nice charming family film that everyone can enjoy. This is the kind of film that should be played at Christmas because every one of the family will get something out of it and I had a smile on my face after seeing it and I laughed a lot more than I was expecting to and this film even got me to laugh at ‘fart’ jokes and that is damn near impossible for me. It there is one thing holding it back, the Roald Dahl enthusiast will claim that it’s not an incredible animation. Considering this is my favourite Roald Dahl book I really thought it knew what to take out, what to add and what to change to fit the 2 hr running time. It’s really worth a watch, check it out.
“Star Trek Beyond” was much better than I was expecting it to be too. I actually re-watched both of the previous JJ Abrahams films prior to seeing this and while I was expecting it to be a rather dull filler film, it is actually pretty dam good. I think the biggest strength of the film is the writing to which one of the co-writers is Simon Pegg and I think people forget what a decent writer he is. I have heard a lot of Star Trek fans complain that is not within the spirit of the original show, but I really think they should get over themselves because as it is, it really works and frankly I thought it was very good. I do admit, though, that I am not a huge Star Trek fan and I can get where the Star Trek fans are coming from, but as a good summer blockbuster, I think it really works. I certainly liked it more than Into Darkness which I felt spent way too much time trying to replicate scenes from Wrath of Khan instead of being its own thing. This one for the first time felt like a simple, good, Star Trek film which is what I wanted. Once again special props to Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as Bones, both of whom are, once again, the best part of these films.
Finally, “Jason Bourne”. If you liked the Bourne films you are probably going to be disappointed with this one. It’s not a bad film, it’s a pretty decent action film aided by a fantastic performance once again by Alicia Vikander who I think now has become one of those actresses I will want to see in anything she is in because she delivers an excellent performance every time. It’s just really a paint by numbers action film, not something I would have said about any of the other Bourne films. Granted I think it’s better than Bourne Legacy, but I think the franchise could have concluded with the Bourne Ultimatum. There isn’t much to explore with Jason Bourne’s character. Now it’s not to the same degree as the Ice Age films but, still, I don’t really feel like there was much too shed light on in this film and if anything it feels rather unnecessary. Given that the original director has returned to direct the film, it’s still well worked and I would say that those action scenes are worth the price of admission alone and I am not saying it’s a bad film, but the other films did a much better job with this premise and more unfolded like spy novels more than action films. This one feels much more like an action film and that is coming from someone who wasn’t much of a fan of the Bourne films to begin with.
“So what are your thoughts of Finding Dory or any of the other films I have mentioned. Please leave a comment. I welcome all opinions. Did I get them right or not?”
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Remember, our post-diagnostic support group meeting is in a few days and I am going to be doing a Pokemon Go session with anyone who wants to join in. I am looking forward to it as I haven’t played the game in Crewe and I am hoping I won’t have to catch the same Pokemon over and over again.
Next week we are getting a DC double bill. I will be reviewing 2 films based on stories about the Joker. So I will be giving my rather late thoughts on “Suicide Squad” and DC’s latest animated movie “Batman The Killing Joke”.
Thanks for reading my review. I hoped you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and I’m going to the aquarium to look for some water Pokémon.
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