Finding Nemo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Like every other Pixar Blu-ray, Nemo provided another excellent image.
Sharpness seemed immaculate. At all times, the movie remained crisp and detailed, and not a single instance of softness or fuzziness occurred. The image stayed detailed and distinct from start to finish.
No signs of jagged edges, moiré effects or edge enhancement appeared, and the movie also was totally free of any source flaws. As with the other Pixar flicks, they created the transfer straight from the original computer files and used no print at all. This ensured a presentation completely devoid of any defects.
The ocean setting of Nemo offered a nicely bright and varied palette, and the disc reproduced the colors wonderfully. From the many hues of sea critters to the vegetation to the other natural elements, the movie demonstrated a terrific variety of hues, all of which seemed terrifically vibrant and lively. Black levels also looked deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly dense. If any problems appeared, I couldn’t find them, as Nemo presented a simply outstanding picture.
While not quite as strong as the picture, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack of Finding Nemo nonetheless fared very well. The movie featured a surprising amount of directional dialogue that helped contribute to the feeling of realism. The ocean setting offered a lot of opportunities for a nice sense of atmosphere, and the movie delivered them well.
Quieter scenes presented good ambience, and the louder ones kicked the action into gear nicely. To be sure, the movie featured a lot of chances for that. From the explosion of the mines to the fish attacks to the rush of the current, the track featured a great deal of material that maintained a feeling of place and setting. The elements seemed well placed and integrated cleanly. The surrounds added a lot of unique audio and helped accentuate the sense of place. The rear speakers behaved as pretty active partners and were quite effective.
Audio quality seemed solid. Speech was distinct and natural, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems with intelligibility. Music was bright and dynamic, as the score sounded concise and full. Effects also sounded tight and accurate. The various elements were well defined and detailed, and they presented fairly good low-end response, with consistently deep, rich bass. Overall, this was a fine soundtrack.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2003? Audio was broader and more dynamic, with tighter low-end. Visuals seemed more detailed and vivid, with richer colors and greater accuracy. While the DVD was excellent for its format, it couldn’t compare with the brilliance on display here.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. Disc One’s main attraction comes from Cine-Explore. This combines a traditional audio commentary with some additional material. For the chat-only portions, we hear from director Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich, and co-writer Bob Peterson. Their track provides a lot of great information and it neatly melds technical and creative elements.
We learn about the film’s origins and path through production as well as many aspects of the character and story development. We hear about changes made to both and also find out about work with the actors. In addition, we goe notes about the many technical challenges and other design elements. The three demonstrate a nice chemistry and provide some funny moments during this lively, educational and enjoyable commentary.
As for the visual components, “Cine-Explore” adds art and photos as the film progresses. These reflect the content of the commentary. We see concept art for characters and other early designs as well as photos of cast and crew. We also get some test footage and quick video chats with various filmmakers. (Unfortunately, the Blu-ray doesn’t always credit the on-screen interview subjects.)
The “Cine-Explore” option adds a little kick to the standard commentary. It certainly isn’t revolutionary, but it gives you more content as you watch. This is a nice touch. I tape commentaries and listen to them elsewhere, partially because it’s more efficient, but also because it’s so dull to stare at the screen for two hours. “Cine-Explore” provides added material that brings more flair and involvement to the usual film discussion.
For a classic Pixar short, we head to Knick Knack, a clip from 1989. Computer animation has certainly become radically more sophisticated over the last 23 years, but this three-minute and 37-second cartoon remains fairly amusing.
A new segment, Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable goes for 17 minutes, 37 seconds and features notes from Stanton, Unkrich, Peterson, producer Graham Walters, technical lead Oren Jacob, and production designer Ralph Eggleston. They all sit together to discuss aspects of the film’s origins and development, story/character subjects, design and visuals, research, cast and performances, and a few other areas. After the informative “Cine-Explore”, we don’t get a ton of new material here, but it’s nice to hear the filmmakers look back at the movie and give us a retrospective viewpoint.
Reinventing the Submarine Voyage lasts 15 minutes, five seconds, and includes comments from Stanton, Pixar’s Roger Gould, and Imagineers Kathy Mangum, Tom Fitzgerald, Bob Gurr, Rick Rothschild, Kevin Rafferty, Tony Baxter, Alfredo Ayala, and Susan Dain. We learn about the original 1959 Disneyland submarine ride as well as its modern Nemo-based update. To some degree, this feels like an ad for the new attraction, but it’s still pretty interesting, especially for big Disney park fans like myself. We get a nice overview of the original ride as well as the challenges involved in the new one.
Next comes a Deleted Scene. “Alt Opening” occupies three minutes, four seconds and lets us view an unused sequence through concept art and storyboards. Stanton also contributes an introduction. It’s not a great segment but it’s interesting to view.
With the eight-minute A Lesson in Flashbacks, we hear from Stanton. He discusses the film’s original flashback-based story structure and lets us know why he changed it. Again, we learn a little of this elsewhere, but Stanton delivers a more detailed discussion of the choices.
An Aquarium offers a virtual display. Let it run and you’ll view a CG underwater scene. I don’t find this to be an interesting extra, but others may enjoy it.
Disc One opens with ads for Peter Pan and Monsters University. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Sofia the First, Disney Parks, and Planes.
When we head to Disc Two, we find more Virtual Aquariums. We see six in all, and these feature anemone, jellyfish, plate coral, reef, sandy reef and “school of fish”. Yawn.
Art Review runs eight minutes, 38 seconds, and presents many design and conceptual drawings from the production. It comes with commentary from Ralph Eggleston, character art director Ricky Nierva, and shading art director Robin Cooper; they give us a nice look at the material and their work. A traditional still gallery would’ve been nice, but this remains a good reel.
Next we find a documentary called Making Nemo. This 25-minute and 35-second program features Stanton, Unkrich, Peterson, Eggleston, Nierva, Walters, Cooper, Jacob, director of photography Sharon Callahan, supervising animator Dylan Brown, art director/characters Ricky Nierva, professor of physiology Dr. Adam Summers, executive producer John Lassester, story supervisor Ronnie del Carmen, editor David Salter, sculptor Jerome Ranft, production supervisor Marcia Jones, animator Karen Kiser, and directing animator Mark Walsh. They cover a mix of relevant topics. We learn about the research behind the film, realism vs. make-believe in the settings, underwater tests, the evolution of the story and script, use of storyreels, use of colors, the depiction of the fish, building the characters, dealing with movement, breaking the tension in the office, animating the characters, and other technical issues.
“Making” moves somewhat too quickly and never feels like a terribly comprehensive examination of the film. However, it touches on many interesting topics and benefits from the liberal use of shots from the production. We get some great material from the studio and learn many useful points, so “Making” feels like a success overall.
After this we move to Exploring the Reef, an attempt at a documentary with Jean-Michel Cousteau. However, our friends from Nemo soon interrupt the proceedings and slowly aggravate the host. The seven-minute, one-second piece is moderately educational and fairly entertaining.
Studio Tour runs five minutes and 24 seconds as young voice actor Alexander Gould takes a look behind the scenes. It gives us a very quick examination of the filmmaking process and plays it mostly for laughs, which makes the “Tour” moderately amusing.
A variety of components appear under Old School. “El Capitan Pitch Selects” (0:52) shows Stanton’s attempt to sell the movie to distributors; he acts out the story on stage. “School Progression” (0:38) lets us see a few seconds of the film in different stages of animation completion.
“MA Reference” (0:53) gives us commentary from Stanton, as he shows/tells us of references to elements from his home in Massachusetts. “Whale Mouth” (2:19) features studio tools developer John Anderson and CG artist Martin Nguyen as they discuss complications related to the CG animation of water. “International Mine” (0:22) dubs the seagulls’ “mine” into a variety of different languages.
“Pelican Animation” (0:52) includes notes from Dylan Brown as he discusses how they brought the pelican to life. “Glenn McQueen Tribute” (2:46) comes with an intro from Lasseter before we get archival shots of McQueen, an animator who died during the production of Nemo. “Aquascum 2003” (0:32) boasts a fake ad for the aquarium product featured in the film. Though brief, all of these clips add value. (Note that they appeared on the original DVD as part of a branching feature or as Easter eggs.)
Four pieces arrive via Outtakes: “Chickenfish” (0:28), “Dory Muttering” (0:27), “Rove McManus” (0:18), and “Albert Brooks Punch Lines” (0:20). All take us to the recording studio for various takes. These are fun (and also come from the old DVD’s branching elements).
Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of . We get “Crush the Hippie” (1:10), “Shark Volleyball” (0:51), “Frantic Dad” (0:26), “Scent of Lavender” (0:23), “Sewage” (0:30), “Prologue Bedtime Story” (0:56) and “Soap Opera/Gill Lies” (1:11). All of these come as story reels, so don’t expect any final animation; they mix vocals by the final actors and temp work from animators. “Sewage” also includes commentary from Unkrich and Stanton, but the others lack that material. None of these offer anything significant, but some interesting moments appear.
Within “Publicity Pieces”, we find a smattering of elements. We find a teaser trailer and three theatrical trailers. Fishy Facts (3:09) advertises the film with movie clips and tidbits about various creatures. ABC Stunts (0:23) offers three very brief bumpers featured on the ABC TV network, while DVD Stunts (0:39) shows little bits of animation that appeared on the old DVD’s menu or as Easter eggs. All are fun to see.
Some educational components appear in Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia. This gives us basic information about the different critters found in the flick. When viewed via the “Play All” option, it lasts seven and a half minutes. This piece runs through the 13 organisms pretty quickly and often plays the comments for laughs, but it proves to be reasonably entertaining and likable.
Does the Blu-ray omit anything from the DVD? Yup – it drops “Character Interviews”, a game, a story, and some still galleries.
A third disc delivers a DVD Copy of Nemo. This comes with a few extras like the “Filmmakers’ Roundtable”, so it’s a decent addition.
Finding Nemo provides a gentle and amusing movie. It doesn’t rank among Pixar’s best efforts, but it seems consistently likeable and enjoyable, and based on its enormous box office success, it clearly appeals to a wide audience. The Blu-ray presents excellent visuals along with very good audio and a nice mix of supplements. While this will never be one of my favorite Pixar films, it remains pleasant and enjoyable.
To rate this film, visit the Collector's Edition review of FINDING NEMO