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Finding Dory (Blu-ray Review)

Finding-DoryAs most probably expected, Finding Dory became the year’s biggest film this summer.  Following one of Disney/Pixar’s most successful, beloved and heralded films of all time was sort of a no-brainer in the wondering of who’s going to go see it.  This time they would focus on the fish with the short term memory loss, Dory, who was voiced by Ellen Degeneres.  The whole crew from the first film returns for this adventures as well as adding in some new friends voiced by character acting favorites.  I recently covered the digital release for the film, this is the one that covers the Blu-ray release (Which indeed includes the digital version as a bonus as well as the DVD edition of the film).  Its coming November 15th, so there’s still time to get your pre-order in and have it waiting for you on release day.

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Film 

When Dory, the forgetful blue tang, suddenly remembers she has a family who may be looking for her, she, Marlin and Nemo take off on a life-changing quest to find them … with help from Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Bailey, a beluga whale who’s convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark.

Like Revenge of the Creature, Jaws 3-D and more recently Jurassic World before it, Finding Dory sees itself heading to the amusement park/public spectacle type place for its locale.  For the series, this is a big step forward, opening itself to a larger host of sea creatures, environments and obstacles for the characters to overcome.  Yes, the ocean itself is a big enough setting, but where the focus of the previous film lied, it was very limited and kept to a smaller collective.

For the first act, there’s a severe worry that Finding Dory is going to be a complete repackage of the first film, just done bigger.  While I guess one could argue that it kind of is, its really beyond that and completely its own thing to behold.  There’s a different sense of adventure and mission on this trip.  The mystery of it all isn’t so much of will Marlin and Nemo find Dory as much as will Dory be able to receive the answers she seeks and will it be enough to satisfy the hole she’s had for her entire life.  This adventure goes beyond a dentist’s office and sees a parade of much larger characters and environments to toe tape through on Dory’s quest to find her parents.

As per usual with Pixar, the voice talent is on point.  They bring in some rather large names for even the smallest of roles.  Idris Elba shows up for just a couple lines in a little joke part.  Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks return to form as if they just stopped playing the roles yesterday.  Breathing a little bit of new life and different degrees of humor to the film are Ed O’Neil, Kaitlin Olson and Ty Burrell.  They each brings a different shade and type of silly to culminate as one little collective of fun.

Is Finding Dory better than Finding Nemo?  Eh, I’m not so sure that even really matters.  What it is, is complimentary to the first film.  It doesn’t really leap above or tread water with it, but it manages to extend the story, add to it and expand the brand without really doing any harm, but at the same time not rising above or taking it to the next level.  Its just some really enjoyable bit of “more”.  In all honesty, its a really interesting kind of situation in terms of where it stands here that we don’t see quite often.  What is certain, is that its very good and was one of the best films of this past summer easily.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Finding Dory is a pretty significant jump in quality from its digital counterpart (Which is why I’ll never go digital only).  This image is sharper, bolder, providing much more depth and confidence.  The colors are much more striking as well.  The image features all the good detail of the animation, displaying how crisp and clean it is.

Depth:  This was both a 3-D film and animated, so its kinda all set.  The separation, spacing and distance for all the characters in the ocean is fun and impressive.  Even the above land stuff does very good work.  Movements are smooth and clean.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and deep.  They provide good coloring, outlining and shading.  No crushing witnessed on this view.

Color Reproduction:  Colors see a good uptick.  Nice bold looking colors, especially strong and varied blues (like, duh right?).  Reds, oranges and yellows all fill the screen strongly.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  Finding Dory’s 7.1 track is quite the leap from the digital copy version I reviewed last week.  Immediately you get some fun playfulness among channels as you hear the baby Dory going from speaker to speaking looking for her mom and dad.  The rest of the film is not too shabby either.  Foley effects sound rich and fully realized.  Its an immersive, full sounding track that engages the room and sounds loose, free and balanced with great moments from the score as well as solid vocals.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer provides a good rumble for engines, water wooshing around, things crashing or big crates sliding.  Its not thunderous like some movies, but it more than gets the trick done.

Surround Sound Presentation:  As mentioned before, right off the bat, this movie starts having some fun with its 7 channels.  Throughout the film an accurate representation of the room is provided with accurate movements and plenty of fun to go all round.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clear with all points of diction coming through.

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Extras 

Finding Dory is 3-Disc set that comes with a DVD edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.  There are 2-Blu-ray discs, one with the feature (inlcuding bonus material) and one specifically dedicatied to bonus material.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Andrew Stanton, Co-Director Angus MacLane and Producer Lindsey Collins

Piper (HD, 6:04) – The short about birds on a beach that ran before Dory in theaters featuring insanely impressive animation.

Marine Life Interviews (HD, 2:03) – Characters from the film are interviewed about Dory. It has a sort of old 1980s science class type aesthetic.

The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar (HD, 9:04) – Apparently Hank was quite tough to animate and really pushed the technologies and systems at Pixar.  The animators talk about their challenges and ideas.  Ed O’Neil and others also talk about where the character came from and some discarded ideas about him as well. We also get more on the research it takes to come up with these characters.

Casual Carpool (HD, 3:46) – A silly video about Andrew Stanton, Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy and Ty Burrell carpooling to work and forgetting Ed O’Neil.

Animation & Acting (HD, 6:56) – Andrew Stanton and some of the cast (Ellen DeGeneres, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy, to name some) as well as some animators talk about the voice recording process and how its all put together.  Features a lot of video of Stanton directing and the performers recording.  The animators also get a spotlight where we really see how they get it done.

Deep In The Kelp (HD, 3:19) – A girl from some Disney Channel show guides a little piece about how Finding Dory animators and production designers studied the Monterey Bay Aquarium to cultivate environments and craft accuracy for the film.

Creature Features (HD, 3:02) – Some of the cast give fun facts about the type of fish their characters are in the film.

Disc 2

Behind The Scenes

  • Skating & Sketching With Jason Deamer (HD, 4:14) – After giving a little background on how he broke into Pixar through meeting some people via skateboarding then starting as a furniture mover, he goes over his artistic process, comparing things to skateboarding and visual cues that help him draw the characters.
  • Dory’s Theme (HD, 4:56) – Andrew Stanton sits with composer Thomas Newman and one of the music directors on the themes in the film.
  • Rough Day On The Reef (HD, 1:10) – A series of outtake clips where the rendering computer made a mistake or glitch that looked humorous.
  • Finding Nemo As Told By Emoji (HD, 2:46) – Its exactly what the title says it is.
  • Fish Schticks (HD, 3:34)

Living Aquariums

  • Sea Grass (HD, :38) – Seriously…a video of just sea grass.
  • Open Ocean (HD, :34) – Just fish…swimming around
  • Stingrays (HD, :34) – A video of a group of stingrays swimming by.
  • Swim To The Surface (HD, 6:00) – A video that slowly goes from the ocean floor to the surface of the water.

Deleted Scenes – These scenes all feature an introduction with Andrew Stanton who discusses what their original goal was along with why it ultimately was cut and how it better serves the story.

  • Introduction (HD, :53)
  • Losing Nemo (HD, 5:03)
  • Sleep Swimming (HD, 3:00)
  • Little Tension In Clown Town (HD, 7:31)
  • Meeting Hank (HD, 3:25)
  • The Pig (HD, 2:05)
  • Dory Dumped (HD, 5:47)
  • Starting Over (HD, 22:16)

Trailers

  • Sleep Swimming: United States Trailer (HD, 1:37)
  • Theatrical Payoff: Japan Trailer (HD, 2:07)
  • Can’t Remember: Spain Trailer (HD, 1:21) 
  • Journey: Russia Trailer (HD, 2:30) 

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Summary 

Finding Dory is pretty worthy sequel to the original.  Pixar seems to have a good handle on their follow ups.  It helps they take so many years in between.  On my viewing, this digital version of the film streamed very well with no interruption or dip in quality.  The extras on this thing come aplenty, but there are some worthless ones that just feel like padding found in the “Etc.” section.  This is definitely one to pick up…but I can’t recommend just going digital.  I’m old school and a purist.  Buy the Blu-ray edition and that will come with a digital copy code that includes this.  You’ll also get a superior performance in both audio and video with the disc.  This is very good though if you’re a streams and digital copy only person.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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