Finding Dory (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) Review- Come on in, the water's fine!
Finding Dory wowed us all when it set a record for the animated movie with the highest grossing premiere. It was a worthy successor to Pixar’s Finding Nemo, following everyone’s favorite forgetful fish on her journey to find her parents. It was not only a fun romp through the ocean, but a touching story about the strong bonds of both family and friendship. It also contained a positive message about accepting disabilities, not as something to overcome or something that must always be cured, but as an important part of who some people (er, fish) are and that it doesn’t make them less capable or competent.
Such a solid movie deserves a solid DVD release, and I’m glad to say that the Finding Dory (Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD) set is as solid as it gets. It’s bursting with genuinely interesting extras, enough to warrant a whole disc. Pixar fans should definitely find themselves satisfied with the amount of special features in this purchase.
The extras include the absolutely adorable theatrical short that originally aired with Finding Dory, “Piper” which tells the tale of a baby sandpiper braving the threat of the ocean for the first time. The short is entirely silent, but tells a complete story with its beautifully rendered and tooth-achingly cute visuals. It’s one of Pixar’s best shorts yet.
The other short included was an all-new mini-short called “Marine Life Interviews”, which is just an interview with various characters in the movie about their experiences with Dory. It’s not terribly memorable, being just a short comedic bit, but it’s amusing enough.
The deleted scenes content is where the features really shine the most. There is a LOT that was cut out of this movie and a lot of it was actually pretty good stuff. Particularly notable is the “Tank Gang” deleted scene, which is actually a fifteen-minute-long full storyboarded subplot starring the gang from the dentist office fishtank in Finding Nemo. If you were disappointed about these characters not getting a big role Finding Dory, this is definitely worth checking out. It’s actually a really funny, complete and cohesive storyline, where the gang appears as a sort of fish A-Team who unflinchingly take on any mission, which causes them to conflict with the cautious Marlen. It was taken out of the movie because it distracted too much from Dory’s story, but as a standalone sequence it’s full of great bits and character interactions.
Another really meaty deleted scene feature was “Starting Over” which showed several different scrapped prologues for the movie. It’s a full twenty minutes worth of content and is a fascinating look at the creative process. Director Andrew Stanton gives detailed commentary on what worked and what didn’t about each introduction. This sequence and a few other scenes give a look at a scrapped plot where Dory’s parents also had short-term memory loss. The creatives wisely decided this would get annoying way too quickly and scrapped it, but it’s cool to take a peek into what could have been.
There are quite a few other scenes included, including the fully animated “Sleep Swimming” scene that was featured in early trailers for the movie.
Any graphics enthusiast will also be happy with the special features. The “Rough Day on the Reef” feature showcases amusing and grotesque computer animation mistakes. “The Octopus that Nearly Broke Pixar” feature goes into how fiendishly difficult it was to animate the octopus character Hank- though at the feature notes, he’s actually a “septopus” which only has seven legs, because they felt that eight would have really broken the crew. Even for someone not familiar with computer animation, it was full of interesting trivia and really impressed on me how much work goes into animating a character. There’s also a short that focuses on character design and features lots of great concept art.
There were also features that covered the writing and acting side of things. “What Were We Talking About” talks about the difficulties of having a main character who forgots what they were doing constantly. It actually cleared up some things about the movie, like clarifying the fact that while Dory loses her memory, she never really loses her “emotional” memory and if she loves someone, that feeling stays. The “Animation and Acting” short showed the voice actors at work, which is always cool to see.
“Deep in the Kelp” continued the Disney DVD trend of having a Disney Channel child star with no connection to the movie giving viewers random trivia, but it was worthwhile in that it gave a good look at the real aquarium the one in Finding Dory was based on. The weakest feature by far was "Casual Carpool", which simply focused on a few of the cast and crew of the movie carpooling and having awkward banter…and that’s it. It was a painfully boring, unfunny skit that didn’t give us any new information about the movie or even the people behind it.
But the multitude of other features more than compensated for these weak points. Additional shorts included one focused on the music of the movie, one focusing on facts about fish and one that highlighted all the Easter Eggs hidden in various scenes. They were all reasonably informative.
For the language geeks out there, there are trailers included in Russian, Japanese and more. The audio commentary is also worth a listen. The commenters were the directors and producer of the movie, so they give a lot of insight into how it was made and provide a lot of cool facts.
All in all, there’s really a lot packed into this set. It definitely gives you a bang for your buck and is a worthy addition to any Pixar fan’s collection. The digital code also lets you access the movie and features online whenever you want, which is very handy. So if you’re a Dory-lover, don’t be afraid to dive in and grab up this DVD! And remember- just keep swimming!