"TOY STORY & TOY STORY 2 SPECIAL EDITIONS"
by Kevin Carr
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
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It seems that over the past fifteen years, we as an audience (and moreso us as parents) have been inundated with everything “Toy Story.” But unlike many things that are aimed at kids and get marketed to their fullest degree, the “Toy Story” works never get old in my opinion.
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
This was the game-changing film that started the CGI animation revolution. Like “Snow White” almost 60 years before it, this was the grand experiment to see if a computer can animate an entire film. Were it a different studio than Pixar, I don’t know if it would have been such a success. But the love and care that Pixar puts into its movies set a new standard for movies.
The story is quite simple... the toys in young Andy’s room are really alive and live to serve him as playmates. Woody the Sheriff is Andy’s favorite, but when a birthday party reveals a new space-age Buzz Lightyear toy, Andy’s loyalties shift. Woody has to deal with some rejection, which turns into him accidentally knocking Buzz out of the window. Woody then makes a desperate attempt to save Buzz, leading him to the back yard of the deranged Sid next door, who just loves to destroy toys.
Having seen this movie literally dozens of time, I am amazed at how much it holds up, even fifteen years from its production. Sure, the CGI is rather crude, especially for the human characters. But technology aside, the film’s story, character and heart still live to this day. Having watched it again with a fresh eye, and on the glorious definition of Blu-ray, I amd still in love with this film.
The Blu-ray includes the bonus material and commentary from the previous “Toy Story” DVD release. The ew Blu-ray and DVD bonus features indclude a sneak peek at the story of “Toy Story 3.” The featurette “Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off” shows how a Buzz Lightyear toy was taken to the International Space Station.
There are three animated stories about the production of “Toy Story,” a look at the artists of Pixar, a spot about the Buzz Lightyear balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a rare look at the much talked about but never released early “edgy” pitch of “Toy Story” that led to a full reworking of the feature film.
TOY STORY 2
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
It is so rare that a sequel lives up to the original film, but “Toy Story 2” was able to do that. Rather than being a pale imitation of the first film, it took the toys to new places and kept the characters intact with the same loveable charm. Even great sequels have been known to add weird character elements that were completely absent from the first film (like Marty McFly’s sudden aversion to being called a chicken in the “Back to the Future” seaquels), but “Toy Story 2” managed to continue the story almost as we never left.
Where the first film was a rescue mission to save Buzz, this movie is a rescue mission to save Woody from a dastardly toy collector who wants to sell him to a toy museum in Tokyo. While captive, Woody meets the rest of his Round-Up Gang, who were the stars of a classic television series in the 50s. Similar to how Woody was almost replaced with a space-age Buzz Lightyear, Woody’s Round-Up was pushed to the side by Sputnik and the space race. It’s up to the rest of the toys in Andy’s room to save Woody.
The animation is more sophisticated, with four years of advances having been made. Yet it’s not the asthetic of these movies that make them shine. It is the brilliant writing, the wonderful characters and the heart that still beats strongly in the story. The ensemble of toys get a little more to do in this movie as they have a prison break sequence, and the new characters of Jessie, Stinky Pete and Bullseye add to the cast perfectly.
Probably one of my favorite elements of the movie is the opening sequence from the Buzz Lightyear video game. Similar to how “Bolt” opened with an amazing action sequence, this movie does too, leading me to yearn for a weekly Buzz Lightyear animated series. Look for a similar awesome opening in “Toy Story 3.”
Like “Toy Story,” the original DVD bonus materials are imported to this disc, with new additions. There’s another instlalment of “Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs” as well as a sneak peek at the characters of “Toy Story 3.”
Additional new Blu-ray features ingluce three additional animated shorts about Pixar’s history, a look at the “Toy Story” Zoetrope (which I have had the pleasure of seeing in person, and it is beautiful),” a look at the technical artists of Pixar and a loving tribute to Joe Ranft, one of the Pixar braintrusts who died too early.