Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding Dory, or "Fantastic Fish & Where to Find Them" (a seaworthy seaquel)

First off...I've been reacting to each Game of Thrones episode in Season 6, and storing the links to those as comments on this here pin.  So there be that.

Second...time to add something else to this blog! Nothing since MJ2 has felt fact, without news of more THG, life hardly feels worth living. D-'} The probability of it is what's keeping so many of us tributes going. But in the meantime, we at last have the answer to another of my prayers: the one for a Finding Nemo sequel. Time to react! {#AllTheSpoilers!}

Wore my Nemo shirt (which would include all my faves if it had Bubbles, Gurgle, & Mr. Ray), with black pants & yellow sneakers (plus yellow nails, fishy socks, Moorish Idol earrings, seashell bracelet, & other fitting touches. ;) Brought along Ilsa the hyper-realistic plush Paracanthurus hepatus (could've brought plush Gill & Bubbles, plastic everybody, the other tangs and clownfish and rays, etc.--I have sooooooo many aquatic buddies, both fish & invertebrate plus some mammals...but we would have needed the whole row of seats, at least. xD) Not that that would've been a huge problem, since it was otherwise empty.  Anyhow, I'm wearing all my fishy clothes during the last couple weeks of June in celebration!

We went on Tuesday, which is the theater's $5 ticket day, so it was no surprise that such a hit movie was going to have a bunch of other viewers. The last few times we've gone here, the audiences have been tiny--occasionally as few as one or two other people/small groups with us. I still can't get over the ONE other lady who came in very late and watched most of the Mockingjay double feature behind us. But, anyway. This time the room was maybe, oh, 1/4-1/3 filled? Not too many children, I was glad to see, but oh how I wanted to kick out the obnoxious group of teenage dumbasses who seemed to be under the impression that they were at home instead of in a public place. Of course one had to keep hacking up her disgusting lungs over and over, apologizing in a way that suggested she found it amusing. Ma & I decidedly didn't. This group seemed to, like me, know when to expect what (did they also read the reviews and reports from earlier viewers?) You could tell they were prepared to bust out laughing at the "big funny moments" and gush over baby-Dory and burble to each other about "the lesbian couple," aka two random women. But almost everyone left during the credits! I counted four who remained, knowing there was more to be seen. Now, since Pixar saved the bonus scene for the VERY end, after ALL of the credits and not just after Sia's "Unforgettable" cover, it would be kind of understandable to had they not heard?! (Like, one had said, "Oh, Piper, I heard this was cute!") Were they not interested? Did they forget? Need to leave? I'd considered letting people know that there was a post-credits bit, in case they wanted to stick around, but over the course of the film I decided that it would be far nicer to watch it in peace. Most of those turds didn't deserve to be told. They couldn't be bothered to check out the cast and notice the Tank Gang there, or figure that people toward the back of the theater staying put during the credits might well mean there's a reason to stay. Especially when one's wearing a Finding Nemo shirt and has a plush blue tang, and it's a goddamn Pixar film. XD But OH WELL, their loss. Have a feeling a few of the others who sat tight might have heard me telling Ma before it started, but the noisy ones probably wouldn't have heard over their own constant gibberish.

Most interesting trailer aside from Moana was for The Wild Life--mostly because of Pango. Who is already my favorite critter on Crusoe's island purely for being a pangolin. Scrubby the goat & Tuesday the macaw are pretty cute too. Think the annoying people were Hamilton fans because they had another little outburst when Lin-Manuel Miranda's name showed up in the Moana trailer. The lights didn't go down 'til the short started (which of course was taken by certain parties as an invitation to blab through the previews.) Piper was beyond precious, and the photorealistic animation? KEE-RAY-ZAY.

So, the movie. A seaworthy "seaquel," if not quite as perfect as the first. Dory is both hilarious and heartbreaking. All the voice casting was spot-on; the actors were brilliant, especially Ellen's exceptional performance. There were lots of big laughs, starting with Dory's repeated attempts to enter the anemone (maybe even earlier.) And there was applause both when Dory reunited with Charlie & Jenny, and at the end of the film. To me, the most emotional part was when Dory began remembering her parents, and convinced Marlin (still a pessimistic, judgmental, worrywart stick-in-the-mud and reluctant adventurer with too little trust in the capabilities of others--just finding Nemo wasn't going to change him THAT much) to help her find them. (Plus, of course, the part where Dory believes she's lost everyone and is all alone in the deep, dark sea.)

Lemmee see now...

-"One year later." Okay, I noticed the lines cut out of the Dory-smacking-into-Marlin intro scene from FN the way I notice lines cut from "I Love Lucy" on commercial-addicted modern television. ;P But more than that, it seems to me that FD picks up not one year from the end of Finding Nemo, but one year from that initial meeting. That's what I'm goin' with because it makes more sense.
Because strangely, it didn't feel strange to me that Nemo and his classmates had grown so little. Assuming that animals in "Disney/Pixar/Animation-World" age a bit more slowly than ones on our plane of existence seems safe.

-The stingray migration was a predictably beautiful scene, BUT. Was it just me, or did it look as if they simply copy-pasted a shit-ton of Mr. Rays together? It's fine if all the spotted eagle rays migrate together, but then...why wasn't he with them? His job prevents him from joining in? Couldn't they have been more varied? Ah well.

-Yes, the trio got across the Pacific PDQ. Main reason I don't complain about that is that it IS believable...mostly they're passing through open water, sped along by currents, so there must not have been a lot to show that would've compared with the action inside the institute. (Thanks, Sigourney!! It's okay, Sigourney Weaver is going to help us. =D) Additionally, it legitimizes the conclusion that the Tank Gang HAD to have been transported rapidly across the Pacific somehow, in order to have gotten from Australia to California. I still call bull shark shit on them being in those algae-coated bags, which must have at least had small holes by the time they reached the coast. For real--all the ways they could have just gotten those damn things open and made it to the Great Barrier Reef already (Bloat's spines, Bubbles' scalpel, Jacques' claws, any sharp object they could have pushed them into, aid from pelicans or friendly sharks...) And we get another "Now what?" plastic bag joke. *screams into shirt for ten solid minutes* ...Okay. I can deal. Just because I've wanted to see the gang adjusting (or readjusting, in Gill's case) to reef life for 13 consarned years now, doesn't mean I couldn't laugh. Right? It's clearly a setup for a short (to be titled "Tanked," perhaps?) Tank Gang hightails it out of the institute, makes their way BACK across the Pacific, reaches their little buddy "Shark Bait" and family. Good stuff. PLUS, there is no possible way to believe for five seconds that any of them could survive inside a plastic bag for a year or more. So obviously, their passage across the ocean occurred shortly after their escape from 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. They were then "treated/rehabilitated," got back into the ocean, and eventually wound up at the GBR. Frankly I would have simply added them to the final scene with Hank, Destiny, & Bailey, as a wonderful surprise every audience member would have seen and adored...but once again, I'm left with only one possible conclusion: We have not seen the last of this story. Also, Gerald was once again fabulous post-credits.

-Dat giant squid was one scary cephalopod. Reminded me of the glorious Megasquid from The Future Is Wild.

-Can I forgive the lack of ANY Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) or cow/box/trunkfish sightings in the kelp forest? No. I cannot. ='[ (And not even a leopard shark in the backdrop or anything else?) Here we go with my BIGGEST GRIPE (and this is exactly what I was afraid of): not enough variety, not enough species. You had coral reef scenes, you had a whole bunch of aquarium exhibits. I should have seen TONS more species of fish (including shark and ray) and invertebrate. The sunfish was good. The "purple Peach" sea star in the touch tank was awesome. The chatty oyster was cool, and did remind me of Audrey II (probably would have even if I hadn't seen a reviewer compare them.) The garden eels sticking out to warn of "Poker's Cove" were great (and also reminiscent of those creepy-as-shit slimy black slug things in FernGully, during the "If I'm Gonna Eat Somebody" song!) Then in the glorious Open Ocean tank ("Rainforest Cafe!!"), I took note of Red-Faced Chevron/Hooded Butterflies (Chaetodon larvatus), and the parrotfish who looked to be the same species as the one from Nemo's class (probably supposed to be Scarus bleekeri...) During the kelp-forest credits, I was pretty sure I was seeing butterflyfishes--specifically Chaetodon ulietensis, the double-saddled. The movie poster'd had me ready for some Chelmon rostratus (Copperbands!), but what I THINK I saw during the credits as well were...well, it's tough to pinpoint. You'd have to pause the video. Possibly could've been based on Parachaetodon ocellatus, or Chelmon muelleri, or Chelmonops truncatus, or Coradion of these very similar, mostly darker species all closely related to the Copperband.
So those were all lovely to notice. I just...there could have been dozens, scores, hundreds more. (Oh, I think I just spotted a Threadfin butterfly on the poster along with all the generally-based-on-striped-butterfly-species ones. Which remind me of my favorite fish in Lisa Frank's Skedaddle Squad image, except that EVERY fish in there is a made-up species, and I've assigned each made-up or variant LF fish a realistic name anyways. The Fantastic World of Lisa Frank can have those, fine, but why does the animated world encompassing Disney/Pixar/etc., etc. need them?)

I don't even care if they mix up species native to all different areas, because hell, there are no fences or walls or any sort of divisions between oceans! And natural waterways would ultimately lead there. So it's cool if they want to get creative and design one or two "Pixarian" species that don't really exist (same as I didn't begrudge Lisa Frank her right to invent or recolor some of her own, especially when they're clearly based on real species or families), but it truly takes me out of the story to watch some realistic animals living in this basically realistic world...mixing it up with made-up ones who look as though they were designed by SpongeBob artists. (Not knocking SpongeBob. And thumbs up to that discus in the Kuddly Krab!) I just don't understand. Hundreds, thousands of gorgeous species up for grabs. Another opportunity to be (semi-) educational. I didn't mind this issue of only certain "extras" being realistic/identifiable so much in the first one because a) I was just mindblown and grateful to see a fish geek's dream-movie, starring a clownfish and a regal blue tang...and b) the Tank Gang (plus little examples such as Blenny) made up for "random unreal background fish." The mostly gangless Finding Dory would've benefited immensely from throwing in as many fish as they could pull from my reference books. 

-Hank the curmudgeonly, impatient, PTSD-affected septopus was, as anticipated, my favorite new character. Nice development on him. Sure, he was kinda similar to Marlin, and the way he bonded with Dory wasn't dissimilar. But it sure was sweet. Loved her little speech to him in the back of the truck, finally convincing him to return to the sea with her instead of shipping off to jolly old Cleveland. (Why was I expecting one more reference to the three hearts? Something along the lines of, "Now I know I've got three hearts, because two of 'em are breaking." XDD) Plus, Hank was essentially the antithesis of Gill at first, as far as his goal. One wants to escape the box; the other WANTS to live in one.
Destiny and Bailey were awesome, too--as well as the sea lions (GERALD!!), and Becky the loon. xD I swear, Marlin's attempts at communicating with Becky sound like (a much less melodious, tone-deaf version of) my dog's "singing."
Other delightful things: Otter blockade/cuddle-party. "MINE MINE MINE" seagull flock cameo. Brain coral "doghouses" (fishhouses?) Speaking Whale to a whale shark. The best echolocation joke (i.e., "It's eating her!") "Free Destiny." Dory navigating while Hank steers--whether it's a stroller or a truck. And finally, the whole crew--well, family of misfits living together on the reef...except the Tank Gang, ffs, which is a major problem that must be corrected asap. -_- Short? Another feature? I don't care, but let's get on it--or at least, make with the assurance that the gang did NOT end up in bloody Cleveland!! Or even worse...separated. Nopenopenopenopenope.

-'Cause we really couldn't have expected to see EVERYONE again, right? I guess Bruce, Anchor, Chum, & Nigel could have potentially worked into it in some way, but the ones we REALLY needed to see more of and get some closure for were the gang!! And it better turn out to be a setup, because they require much more than some throwaway gag!

-What else did I like? Well, I wanted the little swimming blue tang toy from the gift shop tank (can join my swimming purple spotted eagle ray, Leroy, from Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN.) And the little girl's Destiny plush. 

-Hope none of the fish on board that truck actually wanted Cleveland over the ocean, lol. And hope none of them spread too much disease around (lookin' at you, snotty-sneezy fish who spit out the two smaller ones...hahaha. I shall call you Rustopher, after another dog of mine--the one afflicted with the permasnot nasal condition.) What a wonderful world, indeed...~w~

-"We see the undertow and we say, 'OH HAIL NAW!'" Was Alexander Gould the guy who said, "We are so fired?" Because speaking of forgetfulness--I plumb near forgot I was watching a PG movie, and expected him to say they were fu¢ked. XD Anyway. Sorta seemed as though Dory's parents picked a spot dangerously close to the pipes as their territory, didn't it? Well, I guess they already lived there when she (and other, less needy kids?) came along, and there certainly isn't infinite turf in an exhibit.

-Most reviews had warned that the "madcap third act" was almost to over-the-top to be believable...and nuts as it got, I prepared by deciding to always keep an eye out for the little details they surely must have employed to keep it grounded. Things that would make it plausible for all the slapstick, improvised insanity to actually work out so well for the characters. And y'know what? For a story that requires an octopus (sorry, septopus) to drive a truck off a highway into the sea, they did a pretty good job of that. Hell, this is Pixar we're talking about, after all. That's why I had faith and take the films this seriously in the first place.
All in all, it stirred many fond memories of public aquarium visits, and made me want to go back to one--or snorkeling, or diving. Finding Dory might as well be called "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them"...because, fish, man. Short of dogs, there's no more fantastic beast on this earth.