Finding Nemo Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: The Art of Letting Go

A story of love and parenthood.
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Released in theaters in 2003 and now available on Blu-ray, Finding Nemo is the fifth feature produced by Pixar.  Critically acclaimed and a smash at the box office, like much of the studio's output, the film delivers impressive artwork and animation, but the story, accessible to both adults and children, is main reason for its success.

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After the loss of his wife and a number of his children, Marlin (Albert Brooks) the clownfish is understandably an overprotective father towards his son Nemo (Alexander Gould).  During Nemo's first day of school, he gets embarrassed in front of his new classmates by Marlin.  During an attempt to show off and impress the other kids, a scuba diver (later revealed to be a dentist named P. Sherman) catches Nemo and places him inside his office aquarium.  Marlin then begins a quest to find his son. 

As his journey begins, Marlin meets Dory (Ellen DeGeneres, but don't tell the idiotic One Million Moms group), a blue regal tang with short-term memory problems whose ability to read reveals the diver is from Sydney Harbour, Australia.  Along the way, they encounter many dangers of the ocean: sharks, an anglerfish, jellyfish, and a whale. 

In the office aquarium, the other fish in the tank welcome Nemo; however, they grow concerned after learning Dr. Sherman is going to give Nemo to his niece Darla, who has a poor track record keeping fish alive.  Gill (Willem Dafoe), a moorish idol and leader of the tank, has a plan to get them all back into the ocean, but it's tricky and dangerous.

Not only does Marlin need to find Nemo, but the story also suggests he needs to find things within himself, such as strength and acceptance. He has allowed a parent's reasonable caution and concern become a constant state of worry and fear about everything that can harm Nemo.  But protecting Nemo from life will keep him from living one.   

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at 1.78:1, and the image looks consistently brilliant.  There's a wide range of colors that come through in bright hues.  Blacks are deep and inky.  Objects are well defined and reveal great detail throughout as seen in the texture of the fishes' bodies.  Focus is sharp unless it is purposely softened.

There are a few audio options with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 option being the standout.  The track offers an immersive experience, which is needed considering much of the time the characters are immersed in water.  There is equally good surround ambiance in both the ocean and the aquarium.  Objects are positioned within the soundfield and noticeably move through channels.  Dialogue is always understandable.  The subwoofer augments massive explosions and a descending submarine.  There's a wide dynamic range and a balanced mix of elements.

The Collector's Edition Blu-ray comes packed with extras, many from the 2003 Collector's Edition DVD.  On Disc 1, they are all in HD, and SD on Disc 2, except where noted.  Both discs offer screensavers, one on Disc 1 and six on Disc 2.

Disc 1 extras start with the kid-appropriate version of the 1989 short Knick Knack (4 min).  Everything else on this disc has been created for this release.  CineExplore is a Picture-in-Picture commentary with director Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich, and co-writer Bob Peterson discussing the film and documenting its progress through items like concept art, storyboards, and pre-viz animation.  In newly created "Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers' Roundtable" (18 min), the three are joined by producer Graham Walters, production designer Ralph Eggleston and technical lead Oren Jacob for a discussion.  Fans of the Disney parks will enjoy "Reinventing the Submarine Voyage" (15 min), which shows how Nemo and the gang became a part of the attraction.  "Deleted Scene" (3 min) shows an alternate opening considered.  Stanton explains how he learned "A Lesson in Flashbacks" (8 min) while working on the story.

Lesson In Flashbacks - Extended

The Disc 2 extras are all repurposed.  Eggleston, character art director Ricky Nierva, and shading art director Robin Cooper offer an "Art Review" (HD, 9 min) of pre-production material.  "Making Nemo" (26 min) is a behind-the-scenes documentary.  Jean-Michel Cousteau can be found "Exploring the Reef (7 min)" with "help" from Dory.  Alexander Gould takes viewers on a short "Studio Tour" (5 min).  Under the headings Old School (9 min), Outtakes (2 min), Deleted Scenes (6 min) and Publicity Pieces (13 minutes) are a number of very short featurettes offer brief glimpses at different aspects of production.  "Mr. Ray's Encyclopedia" shows videos of different creatures from the film. 

Finding Nemo offers an enjoyable adventure and the Blu-ray offers a pleasing audio-visual experience.  It should find a way into your library.

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