MOVIE REVIEW: Finding Dory captivates hearts

Thirteen years after Finding Nemo burst into our collective consciousness comes Finding Dory, a sequel that focuses on the regal blue tang fish who captivated our hearts.

The story is set only a year after the adventure of the first movie and takes Dory and her best friends clownfish Marlin and Nemo across the ocean to find Dory’s parents. Of course, since Dory suffers from short-term memory loss, this is a very big challenge.

There are appearances by some of the well-loved characters from the first film, including the cool turtle Crush; but also a lot of new, interesting characters like a whaleshark named Destiny, beluga whale named Bailey, and octopus named Hank.

The story is thoughtful in its portrayal of its unique protagonist. There are a lot of laughs and action sequences in the movie—which, given it being in 3D, is interesting in its portrayal.

As viewers of animation, we demand a lot, because there is a delicate balance between realism and animation; that is: it cannot be too realistic, the animation needs to come through too, yet… it cannot be too cartoon-ish either, as we have come to expect a certain level from contemporary animation. Thankfully, Finding Dory is able to achieve these, and at 3D, too. During underwater sequences, you feel as if you truly are swimming on the ocean floor.

The action sequences, many of them involving human intervention, are breathtaking and exciting, especially the scene at the Kid Zone Touch Pool.

Comedic timing is achieved with the help of very talented voice actors Ellen DeGeneres (Dory) and Albert Brooks (Marlin), among others.

The true achievement of the movie in terms of the story is to make you feel empathy for the characters, so much so that you are swept up in the search for Dory’s parents. As people, we also attribute similar feelings and emotions to the animals in the movie. Interestingly, the actual people stay in the background, as the story progresses.

There are a few references to the challenges faced by our oceans due to irresponsible garbage from humans: Dory swims around for a while with a plastic ring (something that reminds us of another animated movie, Happy Feet) and as Dory, Marlin, and Nemo explore the waters around the Marine Life Institute, you can see a lot of discarded household and commercial items. Yet, there is no statement against it in the story.

The movie could have made the most of its (guaranteed) wide audience to address the problems of pollution, but it does not. And it could have, as evidenced by the approach taken by Happy Feet.

In addition, though the characters end up in captivity and therefore, away from their natural habitat, very little commentary is made about it. Whereas, Happy Feet made a statement against taking wildlife away from its natural environment.

One cannot help draw parallels between these two stories, since Happy Feet tackled another animal (granted, from the Arctic) and captivity, as does Finding Dory.

In addition, though you are required to suspend disbelief when watching animation, the movie’s climax that involves a car-chase sequence, so to speak, is a little too unbelievable.

But all in all, the movie is fun and engaging. It truly is for all audiences. There is no doubt that parents who take their children to watch it will enjoy it all the same. And aside from its messages on family and friendship, it also instills a lesson in social savvy (or as we call it: being “maabilidad”): “There’s always another way.”

Finding Dory opens in the Philippines this Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.

P.S. It is interesting to note that one of the sketch artists who worked on the movie is a Fil-Am animator named Paul Abadilla who recently visited the Philippines.

(Read: Finding Dory animator's dream project: Doing a film about patintero, jolens and Pinoy games)






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