Is this fishy update of John Ford's The Searchers Pixar's crowning achievement?
Poor Andrew Stanton. An Oscar-winning writer and director in animation, he took his first step into the larger world of live-action in 2011 only for Disney to change his movie’s title, enact a shoddy and dull marketing campaign and then proclaim their own film a colossal flop when it had only been on general release for a week.
John Carter certainly had its flaws – a po-faced script, a story so elemental it inspired some of the biggest blockbusters ever and now felt tired and uninspired in return – but was visually lush and keen to entertain.
Yet its failure, and the subsequent revelation that Stanton would be returning to Pixar to produce a Finding Nemo sequel, felt like an admission of defeat from a masterful, Oscar-winning storyteller.
Then again, maybe Stanton's following an aphorism he wrote – just keep swimming. If you're dropped to the canvas, get back up and deliver a knockout blow in the form of a follow-up to your biggest hit (and, the Toy Story movies aside, the best film Pixar have made yet). The 3D re-release of Finding Nemo serves as a reminder that Stanton is a wonderfully talented filmmaker, able to tell a tale that genuinely captivates the young and old, without sacrificing wit or ambition.
The plot of Finding Nemo’s become a meme since its release ten years ago, so odd does it appear on paper – 'a man's wife is brutally murdered by a serial killer and his son is left physically disabled. In a twisted turn of events, his son is kidnapped and the father has to chase the kidnapper thousands of mile, with the help of a mentally disabled woman.’
But becoming the butt of an online joke hasn’t diminished the simple power of Stanton’s story. The overprotective paranoia of single father and clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) was borne out of the director’s own nervy parenting and, just as young viewers seeing the film for the first time will be just as enraptured as their 2003 counterparts, so will parents find the same emotional resonance.
Nemo’s (Alexander Gould) undersea world and frantic pace would seem a natural fit for a 3D makeover but, as with the similar re-releases of Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., it’s an experiment with fine but negligible results. Marlin and Dory’s attempt to flee a shark who’s fallen off the fish-eating wagon has greater jeopardy when we’re more immersed in the scene, while the beauty of Marlin and Nemo’s multicolour home is certainly richer in 3D. By and large, however, the effects of 3D aren’t noticeable – how could they be when this film was visually near-perfect as it is?
But this is a krill-sized quibble. This is film of imagination, beauty and heart, with a story that’s simple and timeless but also inventive enough to include a clownfish who can’t tell a joke, a shark support group, a surf-dude sea turtle and a misguided attempting at speaking whale.
It doesn’t need a makeover – but a reminder of Andrew Stanton’s talent wouldn’t go amiss.
As funny, smart and touching as ever. But was 3D really needed to polish a diamond this bright?
Complaints about 3D are churlish. This is a classic – bring on the sequel!