Summer Movie Showdown: "Finding Nemo 3D" Review

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A clown fish named Marlin living in the Great Barrier Reef loses his son, Nemo, after he ventures into the open sea, despite his father's constant warnings about many of the ocean's dangers. Nemo is abducted by a boat and netted up and sent to a dentist's office in Sydney. So, while Marlin ventures off to try to retrieve Nemo, Marlin meets a fish named Dory, a blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss.
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Summer Movie Showdown: "Finding Nemo 3D" Review

-- Rating: G
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure/Comedy

When Disney began releasing some of its classic films in 3D to coincide with the films' return from the Disney Vault, it stood to reason that there would be at least one Pixar release planned.With the tenth anniversary of "Finding Nemo" conveniently falling within the 3D release timeframe, it made perfect sense for it to be the first 3D Pixar conversion.

Since this was a rerelease, the underlying film remained largely untouched. There were no added scenes or plot changes to be found, though a few small errors that made it into the original film were touched up during the conversion process. The story and characters are still as endearing as they were when the film was first released, so the real question is whether the 3D conversion adds to or takes away from the "Finding Nemo" experience.

Watching the movie, you're immediately reminded of what made the film so enjoyable in the first place. It's a tale of a family and the lengths that one would go to keep that family together. Depending on your age, it's easy to relate either to Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) or Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould); one is the parent watching in fear as his child tries to make his way in the world, and the other is a child struggling to enjoy the world around him. Marlin's overprotective nature clashes with Nemo's desire to go to school and be just like all of the other children, and you can almost feel Marlin's heart break when he finally lets Nemo go.

The remainder of the film is split between Marlin trying to find his way to Nemo with the help of Dory (voiced memorably by Ellen DeGeneres) and Nemo trying to find a way to escape an aquarium with the help of a few new friends. Marlin and Dory outwit sharks, navigate a jellyfish maze, and learn to take it easy with the help of some current-riding sea turtles, all while Nemo learns to have faith in himself and confront his fears and weaknesses. By the time the family is reunited (and grows larger with the addition of Dory), the characters have learned that sometimes there are things that you've got to do even though you're afraid.

Fortunately, the 3D experience doesn't diminish the impact of the film at all. Unlike some quick 3D conversions that leave movies dark and looking like so many cardboard cutouts, the 3D conversion for "Finding Nemo" was done with all of the reverence the film deserves. More importantly, since the movie was created digitally using CG software, the animators were able to go in and directly convert the source files to 3D. This hands-on conversion allowed them to determine how much depth different objects in the movie would have, thereby creating a realistic 3D effect that completely eliminated the cardboard look of some conversions. The end result shows that a lot of care was put in to making sure that the movie looked just as good, if not better, than the original release.

Given how much empty space there is in the oceans of "Finding Nemo," the 3D effect actually adds quite a bit to the movie. By giving the characters and set pieces more depth than the seeminglyendless ocean background, it really pulls those elements forward and makes the ocean around them seem that much more realistic. Some scenes that were fairly breathtaking in the original release take on a whole new life in the conversion due to the way the animators used the differences in depth, especially scenes such as the minefield, the jellyfish forest, and the voyage with the turtles. Even the more subtle scenes seemed to take on a new life with the addition of 3D, making small details more noticeable without relying on the in-your-face tactics that some companies use when doing 3D conversions.

While it isn't possible to say that 3D is the definitive way to watch "Finding Nemo," the 3D effect really does add a lot to the movie. It remains a Disney/Pixar classic either way, but if you really want to have an immersive experience, then the 3D version is definitely worth a shot. It's a much better 3D conversion than many contemporary releases, and the ocean setting and the way the animators played with depth makes it an even better experience than previous Disney conversions.

Rating: 4 out of 5