This sequel to Finding Nemo goes a little darker than its predecessor. Ellen DeGeneres returns as Dory, the lovable fish with short-term memory loss. An event triggers a memory of family in her little brain, and she sets off on a journey to find her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Pals Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) join Dory on her quest, which culminates in an aquarium amusement park graced with voice announcements by the actual Sigourney Weaver. Dory winds up in a touch pond, in a bucket of dead fish, and swimming around in a lot of dark pipe work. In some ways, this is to Finding Nemo what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. It’s a darker, slightly scarier chapter, that still delivers on the heartwarming elements and laughs. DeGeneres still rules as the voice of Dory. Stay for the credits to see a rather lengthy final scene.
3 Dark HorseWhether or not you agree in principle with the notion of racehorses, this is a moving documentary about a group of people in Wales who decide to finance one. Their horse, Dream Alliance, is a gangly youngster who grows up to be a solid jumper. Through interviews and archive footage, we see the horse from birth straight through to many of his races, where he proved an unlikely champion. Of course, tragedy strikes during one of the races, and the movie becomes the story of an amazing comeback. Or, depending on your point of view, it becomes the story of a bunch of strange folks in Wales pushing a beautiful animal well beyond the point of reason so it can keep jumping for their amusement and profit. The end results are uplifting and happy but perilously close to being extremely sad. The documentary is entertaining, but it will definitely have you thinking about the treatment of animals for sport.
3 The Conjuring 2As he did with The Conjuring, writer-director James Wan uses the story of a supposedly real poltergeist in The Conjuring 2. The first film involved a haunting here in the U.S., while the sequel draws upon the infamous Enfield Poltergeist that allegedly occurred in England in the late ’70s. Wan has tapped into something interesting with this franchise. Two films in, it shows some decent durability and originality. It’s also pretty scary. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as the Warrens, paranormal investigators who’ve visited many legendary haunted spaces, including Amityville and Enfield. Wan, of course, blows up their involvement in each of these cases to deliver a platform for fictional circumstances and scares. While not quite as good as The Conjuring, this is a sequel that mostly does its predecessor proud. It provides a lot of good jump scares, especially from a creepy demon nun who appears to be getting her own movie in the near future.
3 Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever MadeAfter seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, 12 year-old Eric Zala got the idea to remake the movie, shot for shot, as an experiment with his buddies. Over the next six years, they did just that, doing a remarkable job of recreating the legendary Spielberg film note for note. This film captures the creative team as they set out to film the one shot they never got: the massive airplane explosion after the fight with the big, bald Nazi. There’s a lot of fun stuff about the making of the movie, including the time the boys almost burned a house down. They also almost burned one of the actors, suffocated another with a plaster mold on his face, and used a little puppy instead of a monkey for the infamous Nazi salute monkey scene. The film includes interviews with director Eli Roth and Ain’t it Cool News founder Harry Knowles, major champions of the project.