The Deep End of the Ocean, by Tyler Smith
I should start out this review by stating that I am innately suspicious of 3-D. I feel that very few movies use it well, and I’m very aware that it costs more to watch a movie in 3-D than regular ol’ meat-and-potatoes 2-D. My wariness grows when I hear about previously existing films being retrofitted for 3-D and re-released. Everything about it just smells like a naked cash grab. I mean, really, was anybody clamoring for Beauty and the Beast to be in 3-D?
Often I find myself thinking that a movie studio need not go to the trouble of retrofitting an older film. If you re-release Titanic in theaters, people will go. Not because people are expecting to see something new, but rather to see something as it is meant to be seen. Movies are meant to be on the big screen. When we watch them in our homes, regardless of the size of our TVs, we are compromising. Give most people the opportunity to revisit an old favorite in theaters and I think they’ll take you up on it.
So, when I heard that Disney was re-releasing Finding Nemo in 3-D, I initially rolled my eyes, as I do anytime a studio announces a 3-D re-release. But, after a moment, I started to wonder. While I instinctively bristle at the idea of a film that was never meant to be in 3-D suddenly being released that way, I thought that perhaps Finding Nemo could be different.
When used properly, as in James Cameron’s Avatar, 3-D can create a world of depth that can envelope the viewer and make us feel almost as though we are characters in the film. Finding Nemo takes place in the depths of the ocean, teeming with life. At times, it can be clear and blue and refreshing; at others, dark, murky, and paranoid. You never know what lurks just below you, or behind you, or above you. That’s what’s so perilous about the ocean; danger can come from any angle. Perhaps 3-D could help bring us further into a world already fully realized.
I’m happy to say that this is exactly what Finding Nemo 3-D is. Never has the ocean seemed so vast and merciless. The true nature of Marlon’s quest to find his son becomes crystal clear. I’ve seen this film countless times and I don’t think I’ve ever realized quite how small Marlon is. Somehow, by adding a third dimension, we are able to finally see how seemingly insurmountable his task is. Like Lawrence staring out over the Devil’s Anvil, the future is sprawling and impossible.
This is not to imply that the 3-D only serves to highlight the depth and breadth of the open ocean. It also manages to create claustrophobia in the smaller, confined areas. Where Marlon treks his way through the murky depths, Nemo is stuck in a small fish tank. And the dimensions of that tank, along with the various brik a brak contained with in, are clearly defined. The small of the Nemo’s world never used to bother me. In 3-D, however, I was very aware of how confined it was. Truly, if we lived in this place, we would want to get out just as badly as the other fish.
As for the film itself, it certainly holds up. The story itself is simple, yet powerful. And, oddly enough, after watching Pixar’s Brave earlier this year, I’ve come to appreciate just how fully realized the character arcs in Finding Nemo are. By the end of the film, both Marlon and Nemo have grown to genuinely appreciate the other one’s motives and desires. In Brave, lip service is paid to a mutual understanding, but it’s mostly one-sided.
In its story, characters, and visuals, Finding Nemo reminds us of how remarkable- and poignant- a well made family film can be. And, in 3-D, Disney manages to draw us in, inviting us to share in these characters’ emotions and experiences. Even if, like me, you’ve seen the film easily a dozen times, it is worth your money and your time to see it in 3-D. Unlike most retrofitted films, Finding Nemo not only wears 3-D well, but it feels like it is now finally complete. Like it was always meant to be seen this way.