It’s impossible to watch Finding Dory and not be at least a little charmed by it. It’s a feel good family animation that continues with elements of the same big-hearted magic that made Finding Nemo such a classic. It may not be quite as good as the 2003 aquatic adventure, but it does a good job of following it up with a solid return for the much-loved characters and their new pals.
The overarching story of Dory getting enough of a memory jolt to remember her own long-lost family is a credible rationale for the sequel, but the setup for it all feels clunky in parts. It gets there eventually, but it makes for a slightly manatee-flippered intro to it all that could have been much smarter and more well-crafted than it is.
Ellen DeGeneres is as Dory as Dory can be and while there are a few lines that don’t work so well as others, she covers for the script blips pretty well. It’s a similar story for Albert Brooks as Marlin, and Hayden Rolence picks up the reigns pretty well as the new voice for Nemo. The little clown fish gets much less air time in Finding Dory than in his own adventure back in 2003, which is a bit of a missed opportunity, but it is good to see him back in the mix.
The new characters that are introduced in the film work pretty well with some good scenes featuring Destiny, a near-sighted whale shark played by Kaitlin Olson; Hank, a grumpy octopus voiced by Ed O’Neill; and Bailey a malfunctioning beluga whale voiced by Ty Burrell. If we’re being brutal, it doesn’t make any sense for a whale shark to be kept in captivity whatsoever, due to their immense size and dietary requirements, but then there’s obviously much bigger belief suspension required for other elements of the film, so we’ll let it slide.
As unexpected as it is, Idris Elba (Thor: Ragnarok) provides some of the best comedy moments from the film as sea lion Fluke, helped by his rock hogging buddy, Rudder, played by Elba’s The Wire co-star, Dominic West. The south London accents are pretty incongruous, but it makes for some good laughs when they show up at their Californian coast home.
The animation is stunning, but Finding Dory doesn’t really do much to focus on or revel in the quality of the artwork and CGI genius that went in to making the film. It would have been nice for a couple of slow pans or heightened perspective to highlight it more, but that doesn’t take too much away from the impact.
The creation of Hank, the seven-legged, self-centred hermit of an octopus, is particularly intricate with as much lifelike movement as the real thing. With camouflage skills thrown in for good measure, it’s definitely the most impressive individual character animation that we’ve seen in a long time .
Overall, Finding Dory is a great watch that will be a go-to family film for years to come, especially with the close time frames between the first movie and its sequel. It’ll make for a sweet double-header to bring a little fun to the greyest of rain-swept weekends, so you might want to add this to the DVD collection. The film is also available on Blu-ray, but having seen the difference, we’re not convinced the extra resolution adds enough to warrant the extra.
Finding Dory DVD review: 3.8/5