For the past few years, Pixar has been making very un-Pixar movies. Movies that felt like they were trying to fit into the industry rather than carve their own unique identity. Cars 2, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Brave were all very great attempts, and also good movies, but they were lacking something. The gut-wrench, the vortex of emotions, the staccato bursts of laughter, characters that stood strong in face of adversity. They were lacking Pixar’s secret ingredients. They were lacking the Pixar Touch.
The Pixar touch is this extra whiff of world that Pixar puts into its movies, be it the environment, the physics or the story. It makes you feel in the world of the movie, be it the Monsters world in Monsters Inc. or University, the Ocean of Finding Nemo, or even Finding Dory, the Post-apocalyptic Earth in Wall-e or the Paradise Falls in Up. Pixar makes the representation of the physics so accurate, and imagines the world with such honesty and unrestraint, the world feels tangible, real. Hence, the characters feel real.
But since 2011, all Pixar movies have had lacked the Pixar Touch, and other movies, like How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Kung FU Panda 2 & 3 stole the title of best animators in the industry away from Pixar, if only for short while.
But with Finding Dory, Pixar has reclaimed their throne and proven that there is a reason they are the best in the business. Finding Dory is one of their best movies to date, even better than Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. This is their redeemer, the movie that cements that Pixar’s lack in form was transient, and they’re back!
Oh where do I start? Where should I start? Oh I guess I’ll just start with the ocean where we will journey across to find Dory. The second time around in the ocean is just as magical, imaginative and awe inducing as the first. And with new technologies, so much better. The ocean is grander and more vast and varied than the last outing. There is more attention to detail and the edges are smoother. The flowing sea weeds seem so natural and the way the fish swim and jump out are so non-turbulent. Smooth. A new Marine Institute, the primary setting of Finding Dory is so sharp and clear and beautiful, it feels nothing less than the ocean. And everything inside the institute as well. So, so amazing. The aesthetics of this movie will leave you drooling.
But just as for games, graphics and looks aren’t everything. The graphics and technology would all go to waste if the movie lacked a storyline to back it up. And this time around, Pixar does.
Finding Dory has such a simple premise. Dory remembers her parents and convinces Merlin and Nemo to help her find her parents, somewhere in the vast ocean. Dory gets flashbacks about her life before she drifted into the vast ocean. We see where she lived, how her parents taught her and how her short term memory loss has haunted her since birth, and eventually, how she got separated. And in those scenes, the little Dory, SOOO CUTEEEEEEEE!!!! Dory was so cute back then and I remember half the hall going AWWWWW over Dory.
Now back to the topic, Dory convinces Nemo and Merlin to help her find her parents, and after some obvious initial reluctance by Merlin, they eventually set out to find her parents, across the vast ocean. Now I will not be divulging any more of the story as it is for you to experience.
Like I said, the movie has the Pixar Touch. There are several new characters that I will refrain from discussing. But the new characters will be some of the most memorable characters in any Pixar movie. Making a mark stronger than some leads in various animated movies.
The old characters shine so well in this movie. Nemo becomes a teenager. He talks to Merlin like a grown up, even showing Merlin the error in his ways and gives him amazing advice. Grown up Nemo feels organic. Old enough to cover Merlin’s flaws but still a kid who is not as resilient. Merlin is still ol Merlin though. Scared, worrier, but who has the courage to do the right thing and not be too arrogant to listen to other people. And most of all, Merlin gains confidence and backbone, even in the most perilous of situations.
Dory though. Dory. Dory is the character who sees a lot of evolution during the story. She is changed from just a comic relief sidekick type character who doesn’t really have a lot of story and feels incomplete to a whole fleshed out hero. She becomes brave, strong willed (enough to convince various characters who themselves have strong held beliefs), confident. But most of all, Dory remembers. Dory stops forgetting. All this combines to give Dory an aura of such great confidence that Dory finally feels whole. Just like Dory at the end of the film, we all know who Dory is now. No more holes in the memory, why she got here, what will happen to her, will she remember ever again. Pixar never answers these explicitly, but just looking at Dory, all of this is answered clearly.
This movie is truly a worthy sequel to Finding Nemo. It makes you feel much the same way most Pixar movies do, and some other animated movies as well. While it is not the best Pixar Movie, or in my top five of the best Pixar movies made, it is still one hell of a ride. And many people will find this movie creeping up into their lists of “Best Pixar movies” or “Best movies of 2016”. Beautiful, amazing, heartfelt, but most of all, Classic Pixar.