Finding Nemo on DVD
Disney has released another terrific DVD with this two disc set of the Disney/Pixar
computer animated film that was such a big hit in summer 2003.
As is usual with their recent releases of animated films, Finding Nemo is a
direct-digital-to-digital transfer from Pixars computers to the DVD medium
- and as usual it shows. Video and audio quality of this THX-certified release
are superb; we expect youll be seeing Nemo in the TV/video
stores as demo material for their high tech digital TVs - and theyve
made a good choice.
While Nemo isnt Pixars best, story wise (though its still
highly entertaining), it appears to be their most ambitious technologically
as they create an undersea world teeming with life that, while obviously cartoon,
moves realistically and in numbers apparently in the hundreds.
We were dragged to Finding Nemo in the theater during its run and couldnt
wait for it to appear on DVD, where the picture quality is far superior to what
they inflict on audiences in the movie houses. Some would argue that film has
a higher resolution, and maybe it does, but theres nothing like a good
DVD displayed on a good widescreen big screen TV to do a movie justice, and
these digital-to-digital transfers are just what the video doctor ordered.
And so when Nemo arrived at our offices we couldnt wait to slide it into
our reference home theater - and, as we expected, we were delighted. The video
quality is superb, far better than at our local theater, and the audio is also
Finding Nemo, in case youve been living under a rock, is the story of
Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), a clownfish living on Australias Great
Barrier Reef whose son Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) gets snagged by a diver
and taken off to an aquarium in Sydney, where hes earmarked (finmarked?)
to be given as a birthday gift to a poisonous little girl.
The movie follows Marlins adventures on his journey to Sydney to rescue
Nemo, accompanied by forgetful fish friend Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). They run
into, around, and through such challenges as sharks, some deep sea horror, jellyfish
etc. They also run into good guys such as a school of laid back tortoise dudes
who help steer them through the currents toward their goal.
Meanwhile, Nemo is having an adventure of his own trying to escape from the
tank, aided by new friends and fellow prisoners led by Gill (Willem Dafoe).
Its a charming adventure for the most part, though as mentioned, we didn't
think it was their most charming - although it's definitely their most ambitious.
Itd be tough for us to say which Pixar is the best; wed have to
waffle between the two Toy Storys and Monsters Inc, with Nemo and Bugs
Life in runner up positions. That said, we love every one of these movies, so
while we may have been a tad disappointed in Nemo, its only a tad.
Anyway, the voice casting is, as usual, first rate, the production design is
wonderful and theyre really pulled out all the stops here to come up with
an ocean setting that looks like an ocean setting - though cartoonized. Its
totally believable yet fantasy at the same time. Okay, that sounds like it doesn't
make any sense; watch the movie to find out what we mean.
On the whole, a real tour de force.
The video is presented in both anamorphic widescreen (the original theatrical
aspect ratio), 16x9 TV compatible, and a specially cropped full
frame version thats optimized for 4x3 TVs. We, being video
snobs with the appropriate hardware, prefer the former, and it looks truly spectacular
on our 57 inch 16x9 screen. The images are razor sharp, colors are terrific,
and the whole thing has a nice 3D feel to it that makes for a spectacular home
Audio is also excellent, though the audio snob part of us would have loved
to see a dts choice added to the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. That said, the
soundtrack makes great use of all five point one channels, with sound effects
filling the room and nice, tight bass when they decide its time to kick
in the subwoofer and overall it's terrific.
And as is typical of Disney DVD releases, theyve piled on the extras
Disc one, which they label as Plunge into the Filmmakers World,
boasts the better version of the film (the widescreen one), along with some
nice added attraction stuff.
First up is the Filmmakers visual commentary track, which includes deleted
scenes and recording sessions. This is pretty neat. You get writer/director
Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich, and co-writer Bob Peterson doing a
play by play narration of the film and, as the movie plays, they illustrate
their words by using visual clips. And if you dont want to ruin the movie,
you can access the clips separately.
Theres also Making Nemo: a Special Documentary featuring
Pixars executive producer John Lasseter, writer/director Andrew Stanton
and members of the Pixar team.
For this production, they took a cue from George Lucas and had a documentary
filmmaker work alongside the crew to record the creation of the movie. Theres
stuff on such topics as the challenges they faced designing and animating characters
to be expressive without arms and legs, how to create a believable underwater
experience and a world as vast as the ocean.
One interesting thing about this is that the documentary, though shot in 4x3,
is presented in anamorphic widescreen, so theyve added their own black
bars to the sides of the picture. This is kind of neat, and though it doesnt
help the potential burn in situation with 16x9 TVs, it does let you watch
the program without having to stretch and/or zoom it (in fact, if you do, the
black bars remain).
Both discs also include virtual aquaria, which turns your TV into a big tank.
Theyre interesting, but wear thin quickly.
Here are other features:
DESIGN GALLERIES - you can review The Art Of Nemo, narrated by the artists,
and you can listen in as Pixar artists guide you through a collection of pre-production
artwork that inspired the final computer-generated images.
You can also look at the maquettes (small statues used to guide the artists)
and pre-production drawings used for each character.
Color Script - is a collection of over 300 images created by production
designer Ralph Eggleston designed to inspire the films lighting by outlining
the storys colors, moods and time of day.
Disc two, which is subtitled A Voyage of Family Fun is more aimed
at the kiddies. It includes the full frame version of the movie, specifically
reframed by the filmmakers to minimize picture loss through cropping and, as
with the widescreen version, digitally mastered from Pixars original source.
And there are plenty of extras here, too.
However, we were appalled at Exploring the Reef with Jean-Michel Cousteau.
This short film, created exclusively for the DVD, sees famous undersea explorer
Jean-Michel Cousteau harassed incessantly by Nemo characters as he supposedly
takes us on a dive into Australias Great Barrier Reef, the real-life
setting for Finding Nemo. According to the press blub: All he wants
to do is finish his documentary, but things get complicated by the surprise
appearance of Dory, Marlin, and Nemo.
Alas, things get even more complicated by a liberal agenda. What we get isnt
so much a dive onto the Great Barrier Reef as a piece of global warming propaganda
that spouts unproven science as fact and made us want to throw something at
the TV screen, except that then we would have had to buy a new one. We know
Disneys a liberal company, so we probably shouldnt be surprised
at his blatant attempt at trying to control the minds of kids by feeding them
such dogma - but we still dont like it and it's totally out of place here.
Andwe dont really learn much of substance about the reef other than the
fact that humans are destroying it. We might as well just watch the movie to
find out about the wide variety of life there, even though it's cartoon life
Of course, they could have just not included this documentary (
"documentary" in the Michael Moore vein where truth is irrelevant to the agenda)
rather than beat kids over the heads with such dubious material, but I guess
that would have cost them an opportunity to move their agenda forward.
Which is why we dont mind taking time out from a straightforward DVD
review to refute it.
At this point, where Disney abandoned all pretense of presenting objective
science or of merely entertaining us, is where we abandoned all pretense of
objectively going through the extra materials, rather than risk shattering our
expensive big screen - so well just list the rest of them, culled from
the press material.
Except for one thing we must mention: we were delighted to see Disney/Pixar
include the classic Pixar short Knick Knack, a wonderful toon we
saw many years ago on its first release. Its as funny today as it was
then, and theyve done it justice with an anamorphic widescreen release
and very good sound.
The other material includes (as mentioned, this is copied from the media release):
LEARNING FUN ENCYCLOPEDIA
Nemos very own teacher guides you through an encyclopedia that comes to
life! Learn all about the real fish that inspired the characters of Finding
PLAY FISHARADES GAME
Crush hosts a game of underwater charades with your favorite school of fish.
As they form shapes, its your chance to guess what they are before they
finish. This game lets you play alone, or with another player.
Enjoy an all-new, read-along adventure with Nemo. Meet all his fun teachers
as he spends a day at school.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Made especially for future animators, and hosted by the voice of
Nemo, Alexander Gould, this hilarious behind-the-scenes tour journeys from story
department to final film review and everywhere in-between!
A comical interview with Nemo, Marlin, Dory and Bruce, featuring all-new animation.
See Finding Nemo trailers, special Fishy Facts trailers customized
to Bruce, Crush and Nigel, and explore a Print Gallery of posters, billboards,
lobby cards and bus shelter displays.
Finding Nemo, from Walt Disney Home Video
100 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1, 16x9 TV compatible)/Full Frame (4x3),
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem
Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush
Produced by Graham Walters
Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds, co-directed by Lee
Unkrich, directed by Andrew Stanton
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