'Finding Dory' is a beautiful animated voyage

Finding Dory (Pixar)

Finding Dory
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG for mild thematic elements
Recommended to: Those looking for a solid and very enjoyable animated sequel.

(KUTV) Synopsis: Dory, a blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss, is separated from her family. Years later, with the help of Marlin and Nemo, Dory sets out on a mission to find the one thing she hasn't forgotten, her family.

Review: Pixar is in the unenviable position of being held to a higher standard than most studios (animation or otherwise).

Between 1995 and 2010, they released a series of films that rivals the quality and box office success of Walt Disney's early years. It wasn't until "Cars 2," a film that was a shameful look to cash in on merchandise that went well beyond the Ewoks of "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" that some of the luster was worn away. In the wake of "Cars 2" Pixar was scrutinized in a way that they hadn't been before. The goodwill of the "Toy Story" sequels was replaced by the traditional cynicism that comes with many sequels. Sure, "Monsters University" was a decent film, but it wasn't until "Inside Out," an original work, that really reminded audiences and critics what Pixar was capable of.

"Finding Dory" isn't on par with "Up" or "Wall-E," but it is light years ahead of "Cars 2" in that it feels like a natural extension of the story that was told in "Finding Nemo." The action picks up six months after Nemo was reunited with Marlin, his father. The focus shifts to Dory, the short-memory-impaired regal blue tang from the first film, as buried memories rise to the surface reminding her of the family she lost years before. Dory, with the help of Nemo and Marlin, travels to Monterey Marine Life Institute, "the jewel of Morro Bay, California."

I enjoyed "Finding Dory."

The visuals are astounding. We're reaching the point where I firmly believe that Pixar is fully capable of producing photo-realistic images. The colors, textures and general attention to detail is unmatched. The story, however, doesn't have the emotional weight that I was expecting. Whereas the finest Pixar films have a way of grabbing you early on and continue to hold you on through the end, "Finding Dory" is simply good entertainment. That's hardly a bad thing.

It should be noted that "Finding Dory" isn't an overtly political film. It doesn't completely skirt the issues raised by films like "Blackfish" surrounding marine mammal parks and oceanariums, but it also doesn't go out of its way to be preachy or make it a focal point. Also, regarding that rumor that the film would prominently feature a same-sex couple, it's been completely overblown to the point where you'll really have to stretch your imagination to identify the scene in question.

Follow Ryan on Twitter for entertainment and movie news: @ryanMpainter

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