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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Toy Story - 3D / 2D Blu-ray Review

Experience a whole new dimension of Toy Story fun as your favorite characters jump off the screen and into your living room in astonishing Disney Blu-ray 3D!  Before Finding Nemo, Cars and Up, the creative minds of Disney and Pixar introduced you to Toy Story and an astonishing world where toys play while their owners are away.  Rediscover acclaimed filmmaker John Lasseter’s directorial debut with Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and all their friends in an adventure filled with humor, heart and friendship. This groundbreaking computer-generated classic started it all and set the stage for the equally amazing Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.  Enjoy all the excitement you remember, plus even more fun with a host of bonus features.  It’s nonstop entertainment for the entire family, and now in Disney Blu-ray 3D, it’s Magic In A New Dimension.


Film (5 out of 5 stars)

This is the film that started it all as it was the first CGI feature film made and the first film released by Pixar.  Most in the industry didn’t believe that a CGI movie would be successful but Steve Jobs did after he bought the studio from George Lucas.  Toy Story had a rough start since Pixar and Disney couldn’t agree on a direction for the movie.  Disney thought the movie had drifted away from the original concept and was too sarcastic and they shut production down for two weeks to give Pixar time to rewrite the script.  After a fast turnaround, the movie went back into production and the cast returned to re-record their lines and the movie as we know it was born.
The story focuses on a group of toys who are lifeless when there’s people around, but come to life as soon as they are alone.  The leader of these toys is a cowboy doll named Woody (Tom Hanks) who also doubles as the local sheriff.  There’s also a bossy piggy bank named Hamm (John Ratzenberger), a Tyrannosaur Rex that has self esteem issues (Wallace Shawn), a sarcastic Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), all of whom belong to a young boy named Andy.  Life is pretty good for the toys especially for Woody who is given preferential treatment by Andy.  All of that changes after Andy’s birthday party when Andy receives a new space toy known as Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
It isn’t long before Buzz becomes Andy’s favorite toy which only makes Woody extremely jealous when he is no longer played with.  Buzz and Woody do not get along with each other either since Woody makes fun of Buzz every chance he gets because Buzz believes he is a real space ranger and not a toy.  It annoys Woody even more that the rest of the toys believe Buzz’s claims.  When Woody sees an opportunity to knock Buzz off the edge of the bed which would leave him trapped an unable to go out with Andy to Pizza Planet, he goes for it but it doesn’t go as planned and Buzz accidentally falls out the window.
Unfortunately for Woody, the rest of the toys believe that Woody knocked Buzz out of the window on purpose.  Woody is saved from their wrath when Andy takes him with him to Pizza Planet when he can’t find Buzz.  On the way there they stop for gas at a gas station and Buzz confronts Woody.  Before long they find themselves at the Pizza Planet which to Buzz looks like a real space station.  Trying to return to Star Command, Buzz ends up in a game machine with a claw that drops down and picks up toys.  Before Woody can pull Buzz out of the machine, an evil child named Sid (who also happens to Andy’s next door neighbor) successfully uses the claw to capture Buzz.  Knowing the likely fate for Buzz in Sid’s hands (since he has a proclivity for blowing up toys), Woody undertakes a rescue that will test his mettle and the rules concerning their interaction between humans.
Filled with great characters and a lot of heart and humor, Toy Story serves as the perfect introduction to both Pixar and the following Toy Story movies.  This movie really showed what was possible not only for a computer generated movie but also for traditional movies since it set the standard of Pixar excellence concerning characters and scripts.  The movie did so well that every other studio took notice and everyone started making CGI movies thinking that they could throw anything out there and audiences would flock to it, ignoring the quality demands that Pixar insists on.  If you haven’t seen this movie or the series, you should reward yourself and check this out as they get better and better with every release!

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Even though this movie is sixteen years old, this 1080p (1.78:1) transfer still looks incredible.  While the 3D isn’t as good as say the recently released Cars 2, but it is still very impressive.  There’s more evidence of ghosting present than has been seen in the more recent releases, but it’s not enough to be obtrusive.  The 3D works extremely well with the toys and their world as it gives them all a sense of depth.  The 3D adds an extra layer of fun to the movie especially during scenes like Woody and Buzz’s escape from Sid’s nasty dog Scud where they end up racing through traffic with a lit rocket on their backs.  Both version offer vibrant colors, textures that are finely honed, and black levels that are dark and inky.  They both look fantastic but while the Blu-ray may be the best overall choice, I think I still prefer the 3D version since it adds an extra bonus of fun to the movie.

Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Disney’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is just as excellent as the video quality.  Every channel is put to good use with nice clean dialogue coming from the front channels, a lively LFE channel, and the rear channels offer a nice immersive experience.  There’s some excellent directionality offered that follows the action all around as it skips across the room.  The music also sounds terrific and Randy Newman’s songs come across strong and clear.  While this is the weakest mix of the three movies, it is still very very good.

Special Features (5 out of 5 stars) 

I’m glad that Disney decided to add some extra supplements to this edition so it matches better the fully packed other two releases.  There is a mix of new material here in high definition and previously released extras in standard definition.  The first six extras below are all in high definition.
  • Audio Commentary – Director John Lasseter, co-writer Andrew Stanton, art director Ralph Eggleston, supervising animator Pete Docter, supervising technical director Bill Reeves, and producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold talk about every aspect of the production including the original idea for the movie, the script, cast, characters, the animation process, and more.  Listening to all of these talented and friendly people is always a treat and a learning experience.  The fact that Stanton and Docter went on to direct Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., and Up gives you an idea of the talent in the room besides the widely known Lasseter.
  • Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Story – The first of a two part series (the other part can be found on the Blu-ray edition of Toy Story 2)This extra is here to give hints about Toy Story 3.
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off – A short look at NASA with Buzz, Hamm, and Rex talk about NASA and its mission in this animated/live-action short.
  • Paths to Pixar: Artists – An interesting look at the life paths of several Pixar artists where they recount how they came to work for Pixar.  If you are interested in animation as a career, then you should definitely check this out.
  • Studio Stories – A collection of three animated shorts “John’s Car”, “Baby AJ”, and the “Scooter Races,” that humorously tell some studio stories in an animated format.  These are always fun to watch and it lets you get an understanding of the people behind the movie better.
  • Buzz Takes Manhattan – John Lasseter talks about the Buzz Lightyear balloon’s inclusion in the Macy’s Day Parade balloon.
  • Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw – A short look at the Toy Story that thankfully never was since it was scrapped for the version that we all know and love.
  • Filmmakers Reflect – An almost twenty minute round-table discussion between John Lasseter and the rest of his Pixar brain trust talking about the movie and their recollection of its making.
  • Making Toy Story – An period look at the making of the movie from awhile ago with Lasseter and others talking about the movie and its production.
  • The Legacy of Toy Story – A look at the film’s impact and legacy for both the industry and the public.  This was a great extra since we hear from the people involved in the film including the voice actors, critics, and best of all for me, filmmakers George Lucas and Peter Jackson talk about how the movie changed the way animated films were viewed and how it kick-started the new CGI animation wave.
  • Designing Toy Story – A look at the more technical aspect of making the movie and its CGI animation.
  • Deleted Scenes – There’s ten unfinished deleted scenes, including alternate versions of sequences that made the final cut of the movie.
  • Design – At almost thirty minutes long, this extra offers an extensive look at the design of characters and their  environments, some 3-D visualizations, color tests, and more.
  • Story – A look at a “Green Army Men” pitch, an “Andy’s New Toy” storyreel, and the “Chase” story to film comparison.
  • Production – A talk about the tricks used to make the film for both production and animation.
  • Music & Sound – For fans of the soundtrack and Randy Newman, this almost thirty minute extra offers a “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” music video and a “Designing Sound” featurette that includes six audio tracks of Randy Newman’s music.
  • Publicity – A massive collection of advertising material including a character interview, two “theatrical trailers,” four TV Spots, twenty-five domestic and international posters, merchandise photos, and fifteen Toy Story Treats round out the collection.
  • Maximize Your Home Theater – A video and audio calibration tool to help you set the correct levels for the ideal presentation.
  • BD-Live

Final Thoughts (5 out of 5 stars)

This is a fun heartwarming story that works for both adults and children.  With a stellar voice cast that was perfectly cast in their roles, this is a wonderful film filled with great performances.  This new 3D edition adds a fun twist to the movie and the rest of this set looks and sounds incredible.  There’s also a ton of extras that will interest fans of the movie and animation devotees.  If you haven’t picked this up yet, you should take a look at all of the options below and pick the one that best suits you.  This is highly recommended!
Order yours today!

2 comments:

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