By now, the 3-D revolution is well underway, to the point where it feels more like an imposition, an institution, and a bad habit, depending on one’s perspective. Throughout its history, 3-D has had its uses and high points — such as Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey’s Dracula and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo — but the technology, even in its newer, improved incarnations, can seem more a diminishing force than an expanding one. Harnessed into the repressive glasses and dealing with the murky image (never mind the challenge of trying to take notes with the specs on) can make the 3-D experience feel more like 1.5-D.
On the plus side, we can point to the rare successful retrofitting of an old classic in this new mode, such as the three-dimensional retooling of Finding Nemo. This still-lovable all-ages masterpiece about an angst-ridden quest for a lost little clown fish named Nemo, a tense but resolving spin-off of John Ford’s The Searchers, was made back in the relative Pixar dark ages of 2003. Its new version in 3-D becomes its alternate undersea world.
But forget about the x–D movie math: The best reason to see Finding Nemo on the big screen again is … the precious opportunity to see Finding Nemo on the big screen again. Everything about this film feels right, then as now, from the visual flair of its color palette and literally fluid kinetics to Thomas Newman’s wondrous and orchestrally 3-D film score. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres still charm as the neurotic and absent-minded searchers, respectively, and we spark up to the implicit sneer of Willem Dafoe’s fishy role and warm to the surfer-speaking turtles.
Many another fine Pixar sensation has come down the pike since Nemo, but this marvel occupies a special place in the pantheon of computer-animated goodness. Essentially, 3-D is more the rationale than the reason to refind Finding Nemo.