Finding Nemo (Region 1 2 Disc Collectors Edition DVD)

Walt Disney DVD 30078, USA Region 1
DIsc 1: 100 minutes main feature, 72 minutes extras
Disc 2: 100 minutes main feature, 48 minutes extras

Finding Nemo has already proven to be one of the best films of 2003 and one of the best animated movies ever made, with its great story line which both children and adults can adore, and on top of that, impeccable animation that is stunning yet beautiful. I saw it just a few weeks ago when it was released at cinemas in the UK (and here in Manchester, we got it a week before anyone) and was very impressed by the whole film. So much so, that when I heard the USA Region 1 DVD was coming out in November, I thought it well worth a pre-order.

The plot of the film is this: Nemo is a young clown fish, looked after by his sometimes overprotective father Marlin. Marlin is a lone parent as his wife fish was eaten by a barracuda, and all but Nemo were eaten too. One day Nemo decides to explore a bit too far at fish school, and ends up captured by divers and off to a dentist's aquarium in Australia. Marlin, together with Dory, a rather forgetful regal blue fish, swim in an adventure that sees them meet vegetarian sharks, surfer dude turtles, hypnotic jellyfish et al in a quest to find Nemo and reunite parent and child.

The film works very well on a lot of levels: for a start, it gives a positive message that single parents are just as loving as two parent families, that it's okay to be different or be born not perfect (Nemo's "lucky fin" is actually a fin that hasn't grown as well as his other one) and that also there's beautiful scenery and wildlife underwater that should be protected, not taken away. Not just that, but for the children all the characters are charming, not least some of the fish in the fishtank, Peach the starfish is a lovely example. In different ways they all endear the viewer to them, not least Dory, whose forgetfulness and humour makes the main role with Marlin work so well. Both characters are excellently voiced by Albert Brooks (Marlin) and Ellen DeGeneres (Dory) and you can tell in their voices that they enjoyed it as much as you will do watching it.

Lots of scenes will have the children sad or happy: at the start when the barracuda eats Marlin's wife and lots of the fish, you share his upset and pain, and when Nemo and Marlin reunite there was hardly a dry eye in most of the children and adults at the cinema, tears of joy like only the folks at Pixar can make you feel. One of the best scenes though for me is when Nigel the pelican (excellently voiced by Geoffrey Rush) delivers Dory and Marlin to the dentists' where they see Nemo about to be thrown away. Chaos ensues as Nigel goes on the rampage in the dentists', the dentist's daughter Darla starts screaming and in the waiitng room opposite, you can see a little boy waiting for his appointment, and his face turns to shock amid what he can hear. Just that little look of "oh no, don't get me in there" is enough to make most people smile or laugh, because at some point, we've heard noises at dentists and been there. And that's one of its strengths: it works for the adults and children alike.

Enough about the film, I don't wish to spoil the thing for you and suffice to say I enjoyed it very much. So when I placed disc 1 into my trusty Pioneer DV646A, I was hoping to be impressed. And boy oh boy, was I ever!

For a start, the movie has been transferred digitally direct from the digital source. What this means is the picture is going to be stunning. Jaw dropping would be more appropriate. For a while now, hi-fi retailers have shown off Monsters Inc to show how good a DVD can be. Well, believe it or not, the picture quality on here is actually even better. Everything is wonderful: the colouration of the images perfect, the animation spot on, and the sea backgrounds seam into the whole picture without being distracting. Not just that, but in glorious widescreen it really does do a superb job of filling the television with images of pristine quality: also one to show off your television set to its best. Certainly my trusty JVC AV28T25 (in black) did the job anyway. Words can't describe how good it looks but the definition, the clarity, the fluidness is second to none.

Not to be outdone, the soundtrack is fully THX-certified. If you have a well expensive and rather good THX rig, you're in for a treat with the sound emnating perfectly. Even through my now somewhat ageing slightly Dolby Pro-Logic amp, the sound fed beautifully to the five speakers without any problems and some of the surround effects in the background just work wonderfully well and add to the realism of being there. Turn the lights off, put the hi-fi and TV on, and that's all you need. Within minutes I felt I could almost be there, so good is the soundtrack. The speech comes clearly from the centre and focuses your attention really well on the screen and the movie itself, and not to mention the fact there's even a THX optimiser on both discs, so you can have everything set up perfect for the movie experience.

The other nice touch about the collectors edition is that disc 1 contains the widescreen version, and disc 2 contains the full frame version. Even watching the full frame version was impressive - it's been excellently reframed so that you see as much of the picture as possible and doesn't look like a nasty pan and scan cut, far from it. In fact, for those of you without a widescreen TV, you will really appreciate the effort taken into the making of such a good full screen transfer. Both discs have small introductions (selectable from the main menu) which tell you about the disc and their contents, with director Andrew Stanton and co-director Lee Unkrich talking you through it. I love the humour in disc 1's intro: "Welcome to Pixar! No, we're really here at Pixar! Look, here's John Lasseter". And later in the intro you can see John frantically waving in the background.

So that's the excellent main feature, but what about the extras on each disc? Well, you are completely spoiled for choice, let me tell you. And there's something for everyone. I'll deal with them disc by disc as it's probably a lot easier:

Disc 1 Extras

Disc 2 Extras

The only minor gripe I have with disc 2 is that when the disc starts, you have to press MENU to get to the menu or the trailer for the Incredibles kicks in. Although you probably wish to see the trailer, it's best left in the sneak peeks section to be honest. However, that's minor.

Nothing can detract from the fact that overall this is a superb package, laden with features that actually make themselves worthwhile, some great insights into the making of the movie,and educational things for the children so after they've seen the movie, they can do a bit of learning too. None of this would count as much if the movie wasn't any good, but it's a superb film. Suffice to say that if you do have a multi-region player, you should either a) buy it or b) put it on your Christmas list and drop very unsubtle hints that you would like it very much indeed. Because believe me when I say this: if ever there was a case for buying a multi-region DVD player, this is it. It's possibly one of the best DVD releases ever in terms of content and quality and a perfect disc to show off just what DVD can do. In short: awesome, totally.

Warren's rating: 97%