In the wake of the spectacular critical and commercial failure of Lars von Trier’s Blinding Nemo, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo, industry watchers are openly speculating that they may be witnessing “the beginning of the end” of the pioneering digital studio Pixar.
Blinding Nemo picks up the storyline of the title character as an adult clownfish who has become estranged from his father Marlin, who apparently was afflicted with symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the years following the sometimes harrowing exploits of the first film.
In the aftermath of a surface-world toxic waste spill, Nemo loses his vision, and the remainder of the film chronicles the adversity that he endures as he struggles to exist in a world that requires constant reliance on all of the senses at a fish’s disposal, principally sight.
Critics have almost universally reviled the film, both for its dark subject matter and structural flaws. Roger Ebert wrote, “There is no dramatic arc. The three-act structure is non-existent. It starts out dark, and gets darker. None of the trademark Pixar quips and jokes within jokes, amusing (for different reasons) to both children and their parents, are present. Von Trier heaps indignity upon indignity upon the protagonist at a level and detail not seen since Dancer in the Dark or Dogville. In retrospect, von Trier was probably not the best choice of director for this film.”
Coming on the heels of the lukewarm success of 2012’s Brave, the baffling creative choices of Blinding Nemo have led industry watchers to question whether the studio has permanently squandered its reservoir of goodwill and will descend, inexorably, into a death spiral.
“I have to question their thinking”, opined movie industry watcher Steve Larchmont. “They have expressed a desire to appeal to a wider audience with edgier, more mature themes and stories, but the question is why? They were phenomenally successful with the same basic formula, over and over, that already enjoyed broad appeal, from hipsters in Brooklyn to hillbillies in Birmingham. I give them one more chance to get back the ship righted before I become highly bearish on Pixar.”
Larchmont’s concerns are echoed by other industry observers, who anxiously await the release of upcoming features Cars 3: The Totalling of Mater (2014) and Uwe Boll’s Untitled Pixar Film about the Easter Bunny (2015).