“Finding Dory” — A Film Review

*No worries. This review is entirely spoiler-free!*

I don’t know about you, but I vividly remember seeing Finding Nemo on the big screen back in 2003. I was eight years old at the time. Thirteen years later, it’s still one of my favorite animated films and is, in my opinion, one of Pixar’s best efforts. And here we are now with its long-awaited sequel: Finding Dory.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. Normally, I’m pretty good at predicting whether a movie will be good or not by watching its trailer(s). But even after watching multiple promos and trailers for this movie, I couldn’t tell which way it would swing. I was equally skeptical and hopeful. I would just have to wait and see.

Well, I waited. And I saw it. Now it’s time to review it!

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The story, of course, centers around everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory. It’s been a year since the events of Finding Nemo, and Dory finally remembers that she has a family out there somewhere. With the help of Marlin, Nemo, and a cast of other characters both old and new, she sets out to reunite with them.

Overall, I found the story to be well-done and engaging. The opening scene is very strong, pulling you right in and making you feel things (one of the things Pixar is best at). After that, though, things do get choppy and uneven for a while. One minute the movie is fast-paced and fun, and the next it gets lost in some awkwardly written dialogue scenes. Thankfully, the movie does get better as it goes on, but I did find it a bit unstable here and there. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but I think it was a combination of some of the dialogue needing to be ironed out, some pacing issues, and some trouble on the writers’ part figuring out how much they needed to re-establish the characters that we already know.

Most of those problems happen in the first act and (for the most part) diminish as the film goes on, thankfully. And in the end, I was satisfied with how the whole story played out. There were laughs, and there were also tears. The film has a great message about overcoming weaknesses, specifically disabilities; Dory, of course, has short-term memory loss, while other characters have a missing tentacle or nearsightedness. I do think the message could have been better-integrated into the plot, but as it was, it worked. I found the flashback scenes with Dory’s parents to be particularly touching, watching them do their best to care for their daughter and teach her to do things on her own despite her memory problem.

So, no, I don’t think the story is as good as that of Finding Nemo, but I do think it works well in its own right, despite a few problems.

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One of the film’s strongest elements is its characters. Dory is obviously a standout, both funny and endearing — more so the latter than the former in this film. Marlin is as great as ever, but sadly, Nemo doesn’t really have much to do in the story. He’s just kind of . . . there. It’s unfortunate, because one of the best things about the first film was how well it balanced its two plotlines: Marlin and Dory searching for Nemo, and Nemo’s experiences in the fish tank. Here, the focus is on Dory, and the parts that center around her are good, but whenever the film switched to a character moment between Marlin and Nemo, I didn’t find it to be particularly interesting.

On the plus side, though, we get some great new characters that are definitely worth remembering: Hank the octopus (er, septopus), Destiny the whale shark, and Bailey the beluga are the main standouts. They were great fun in different ways, and they stack up well with the memorable side characters from the original. Oh, and then there’s Gerald. Gerald is arguably the best part of the movie. Be sure to stay after the credits for more of Gerald. And hey, Pixar? How about Finding Gerald for the threequel? Please? Can you make that happen? I need more Gerald!

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The movie is visually stunning, as one would expect from Pixar. The water, the diverse ocean life, the movements of the characters, the lighting, the vivid colors . . . it all comes together in a beautiful package, doing a wonderful job of immersing you into its world. It sounds great, too, from the lovely score by Thomas Newman to the more subtle things like how the characters’ voices echo underwater. Great stuff.

So. That’s actually pretty much everything I wanted to say about this film! In conclusion, Finding Dory is a solid sequel. It sometimes has trouble finding its footing, but when it works, it really does work. No, it’s not as good as Finding Nemo, at least in my opinion. It’s not as moving, it’s not as funny, and it’s not as well-rounded a film. But it’s a good movie all the same, and one that is absolutely worth seeing. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts! What did you think of the movie? Leave me a comment!

Next time, I’ll have some reactions, thoughts, and general discussion about all the new information we got about the new Zelda game at E3! Until then!

 

The Next Adventure: Zelda at E3 2016

Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog, you may or may not know that I’m a big fan of the Legend of Zelda series. Ever since I played The Minish Cap on my little Game Boy Advance when I was nine, I’ve been hooked on the sweeping, epic quests filled with monster bashing and puzzle solving that have been going strong ever since the original came out in 1986.

Naturally, when the next big installment in the series was first announced at E3 (that’s Electronic Entertainment Expo for you non-gamers who may be reading this) in 2014, I was pretty excited. Okay, really excited. I may or may not have let out a couple of squeals of joy.

That trailer, despite having a lot less information about the game than I was hoping for, was still more than enough to get me pumped. The new aesthetic style instantly appealed to me, and I relished the idea of more nonlinearity and an even bigger world to explore. At the time, 2015 seemed like a long wait. Luckily, later in 2014, Nintendo surprised everyone by showing some new footage from the game at the Game Awards — check it out!

Naturally, this only got me more excited. This was looking so good! I couldn’t wait to play it. 2015 wasn’t that much father away, was it?

Well, no, it wasn’t. But the problem was that the game got delayed to a 2016 release instead.

My first reaction was something like: Dangit! Why, Nintendo? Why must you make us wait longer? WHY?

My second reaction was a bit more reasonable: Well, I’m sure they have good reasons for it. They said they just need more time to develop ideas they’ve come up with as they’ve been working on it. I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

For a while after that, news about the new game was pretty much nonexistent . . . up until late April this year, when Nintendo announced that the new Zelda was being delayed a second time. To 2017. And it would be released on both Wii U and the new system, currently codenamed “NX,” which is also releasing in 2017.

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I have to admit that I was kind of ticked when I heard that. I still feel kind of conflicted about it. On one hand, they’re taking their time, so it (hopefully) means the game will be really, really good once it’s (finally) finished. On the other hand, according to my knowledge, every major Zelda game in the past has been delayed at least once, so I can’t help but wonder why Nintendo can’t seem to get an accurate idea of what timeframe they can finish a game in.

But hey, I’m far from an expert on how the video game industry works, so who am I to talk? All I can really do is just wait and see what they give us. And when they announced the most recent delay, they also announced that this year at E3, they’ll be focusing a lot on the new Zelda — in fact, it will be Nintendo’s only playable demo at the expo. That makes me happy, because it means (I hope) that we’ll be getting a LOT of new information about the game.

Here’s a a quick rundown of what I’m hoping for!

  • A title. I’m really, really sick of calling it “Zelda Wii U.” I’d like to know the final title, whatever it may be. I enjoy my Wii U and my games for it, but let’s face it: “Wii U” is pretty much the dumbest console name ever.
  • A full trailer. I want to see the characters. I want to get an idea of the story. I want to see many, many more examples of what is going to make this game awesome and what is going to make it stand out in the Zelda series.
  • Lots and lots of quality gameplay footage. I want to see this game in action. I don’t want to see TOO much for fear of spoilers, but I want to get a good idea of what it will feel like to play this game.
  • A music sampling. This will hopefully come with the trailer, but I’d like to hear some of the music from the new game! The Zelda series is well-known for its excellent music, and I can’t wait to get an earful of yet another amazing soundtrack.
  • Reassurance. This is basically a summary of all of the above. After hopefully getting to see and hear all of this, I want to be reassured that the wait will, indeed, be worth it.

That’s about it. Obviously, I’m not entitled to all of this just because I’m a Zelda fan, but at the same time, we’ve had two delays and very little news about the game ever since it was first announced. So, I think it’s about time we get the real scoop on what this game is going to be. Can’t wait!

Are you excited for the game? What do you hope E3 will bring? Leave a comment to let me know. And don’t forget that Nintendo will be streaming their press conference live from E3 on June 14th, 9 AM Pacific Time!

See you guys later! My next post will most likely be a review of the long-awaited Finding Dory. Stay tuned for that!