By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
It has been 13 years since the release of Disney’s Pixar Finding Nemo and this year, I finally got the chance to watch the sequel Finding Dory. I was completely blown away by the storyline and the magnificent voice cast which gave life to each character in the film. The studio deserves the praise in coming up with a compelling story that is worth the wait and a must watch for the whole family.
Finding Dory picks up where Finding Nemo left off and it shows that Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is helping Marlin (Albert Brooks) look after Nemo (Hayden Rolence) after their big adventure in the first film. Dory accompanies Nemo to school and during a lesson about migration; this jolt Dory’s memory that she finally remembers that she has a family too. In a series of flashbacks, the audience begins to learn about Dory’s past as a baby regal blue tang and her struggle with short term memory loss. It is encouraging to see her parents being so patient and showering their utmost love in getting Dory to work round her short term memory loss.
Despite attempts to convince Dory not to leave the reef again as her home is across the ocean, Nemo convinces Marlin to agree in helping Dory reunite with her parents again. It is the kind of reciprocal love that tugs at the heart strings of the audience throughout the film. Dory also meets some special and helpful characters along the way in the form of an octopus, whale shark and beluga whale. It is a journey that puts Dory, Marlin and Nemo in various situations but more importantly, it helps us to understand Dory better. Despite her short term memory loss, Dory is shown to be courageous, witty and resilient in always thinking of creative ways in dealing with seemingly difficult situations where there does not seem to be any solution in sight.
Dory manages to track her parents last known location down to the Marine Life Institute in California but is unable to find them. Back in the ocean, she comes across a trail of shells that her parents have been laying out at the seabed in the hope that Dory will follow and remember their significance. Some scenes were very emotional through the dialogue of the different characters. There is definitely much more Dory development in this film which gives more back-story and serves as a fitting tribute to Finding Nemo which is equally just as great and compelling.
The one main aspect that I like about Disney and Pixar films are that they always make every character which they introduce count into the plot. This is an area which not many studios are capable of doing due to running time considerations. The film also puts the spotlight on conservation of ocean life-forms which I think is important and a timely reminder to care for the reefs and the oceans. Director Andrew Stanton has definitely made the film with the best ingredients which is humour, emotional driven dialogue and personality development that makes the film such a joy to watch.
It is true that fishes and especially whales are meant to belong to the wild and not held captive for entertainment purposes as it puts stress on their well-being. This was alluded to in the film where Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a whale shark and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale manages to escape from their small enclosure into the ocean. It is a good reminder that wild animals should not be trapped from their natural habitat to be used as an attraction.
In light of the film, marine advocates are also urging fans of the movie to not buy the regal blue tang on impulse which is Dory as they are directly caught from the ocean and the chemical cyanide which is needed to catch the fish is causing coral bleaching and damaging the ocean’s ecosystem. Therefore, fans should be moved to defend Dory and to think about rehabilitation and putting these creatures back into their natural habitat.
Finding Dory has lived up to my expectations from having such a great voice cast, soundtrack, storyline and it will appeal to anyone of any different age groups and more so die-hard fans of Finding Nemo. In the post-credits scene, the Tank Gang from Finding Nemo which is led by Gill reaches California after a year of floating across the Pacific still in their plastic bags. They are rescued by the volunteers of the Marine Life Institute which opens possibilities of a third film or a spinoff involving the Tank Gang which I would like to see put in development. In the words of Dory, just keep swimming Disney and Pixar, animated films will only get more sophisticated and better in capturing the hearts and imagination of movie-goers.