Back Comments (5) Share:
Facebook Button
Because everyone loves them, Pixar Studios and Disney have released a second collection of Pixar’s celebrated short films. This collection features 12 shorts, most of which accompanied the studio’s feature releases in theaters and/or on home video. The first Pixar Short Films Collection has the added benefit of including some of the studio’s more ‘historically significant’ shorts, like Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy, but this one features some incredible artistic achievements and even a couple of shorts not otherwise available on home video.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

Your Friend The Rat

(11:20)
Remy the rat and his brother Emile guide fans through world history from a rat’s perspective. Originally included with the DVD/Blu-ray release of Ratatouille, Your Friend the Rat is the only mixed media short in the set. It includes 2D (I’m guessing Flash-based) animation, stop-motion, CG, and even live-action. This surprisingly comprehensive history lesson makes good use of Patton Oswalt’s voice as a narrator and stylistically recalls silent films, 8-bit videogames, and even the old Little Golden Book drawing style. Your Friend The Rat is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and the mixed-media approach offers a wide range of textures, colour palettes and different blending modes. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack shows definite signs of compression and doesn’t feature a lot of surround support, but gets a lot of mileage out of punchy dynamics and stereo enhancement. Alex Mandel’s jazzy score is crisp and bouncy without any hint of distortion. Included is a commentary from director Jim Capobianco and production designer Nate Wragg.

Presto

(5:15)
When Presto, a great turn-of-the-century magician, neglects to feed his rabbit one too many times, the magician finds he isn’t the only one with a few tricks up his sleeve. Presto preceded WALL-E in theatres and was also featured on the DVD/Blu-ray release. Like BURN-E, it’s basically wordless and a bit more straight slapstick than most Pixar shorts. Presto is also the flat-out funniest short in this collection and a perfect extension of the best Looney Tunes madness. Presto is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and looks best in its soft, warm blends of the somewhat muted ‘period’ look. The colours are very richly rendered alongside deep, crisp blacks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack features no traditional dialogue and gets the best sound boost out of its increasing dynamic ranges. As the situation grows more chaotic, Scot Blackwell Stafford’s music, Presto the magician’s cries, and the audience reactions grow louder and are given stronger LFE enhancement. There’s also quite a bit of directional enhancement as object fly past screen. Included is an optional commentary from director Doug Sweetland.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

BURN-E

(7:40)
BURN-E is a dedicated, hard-working robot that finds himself locked out of his ship and quickly learns that completing a simple task can often be a difficult endeavor. This short was originally included with the WALL-E DVD/Blu-ray release and overlaps with events from the film. There’s a definite Chuck Jones quality to the ‘born loser’ concept and speedy editing. The final effect is a smidge depressing, but is particularly outstanding, due to a number of visual references to Stanley Kubrick films, including The Shining, Clockwork Orange, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. BURN-E is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and is made to match the look of WALL-E, including all the crisp textures and sharp details (the smoke and dust effects are especially nice). Colour qualities are mostly muted, but there are plenty of aggressive pops of colour. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack also appropriately mimics the expert sound designer Ben Burtt’s work on WALL-E, including plenty of wistful directional enhancements. J.A.C. Redford’s music includes entries from Thomas Newman’s WALL-E soundtrack and may be the most ‘theatrical’ of all the shot soundtracks. Included is a commentary from director Angus MacLane.

Partly Cloudy

(5:50)
Inspired by Dumbo, this short features baby-delivering storks that receive their special packages high in the stratosphere, from clouds that sculpt babies and bring them to life. Originally preceding Up in theaters (and appearing on its DVD/Blu-ray release), Partly Cloudy is one of the more ‘precious’ shorts here. Had it been any longer it may have been too precious, but in bite-sized form it’s pretty charming and even includes a handful of potent belly laughs. Partly Cloudy is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and is a particularly bright short. Contrast levels are set high enough that the animation looks a bit ‘chunky’ at times, but the soft qualities of the cloud characters are still very well represented. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack isn’t given an excess of stuff to do, but the sky environment offers a nice wide range of sound throughout the stereo and surround channels. The damage done to the poor stork offers the soundtrack some nice punch as well. Included is a commentary from director Peter Sohn.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

Dug's Special Mission

(4:40)
Dug the Dog is sent on a foolish mission by Alpha, Beta and Gamma so that they can hunt for the Bird of Paradise Falls by themselves. Soon, Dug discovers that where he belongs is not where he’s been looking. Dug’s Special Mission was originally included with the DVD/Blu-ray release of Up and, like BURN-E, overlaps with the events of the feature film. Dug’s Special Mission is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and, also like BURN-E, it matches the look of its theatrical equivalent, including all the awesome rock and fur textures. The colour quality is generally natural, but includes eclectic bits of pop via Kevin the bird and the dogs’ little red collar lights. This Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is particularly impressive throughout the channels. There’s a lot of subtle ambience and bombastic action in the sound here. Along with Up’s original voice cast, original composer Michael Giacchino has written the music for this one, which gives it a extra bounce of credibility. Included is a commentary with director Ronnie del Carmen and supervising director Brad Winemiller.

George & AJ

(4:00)
Inspired by Carl’s escape (in Up), senior citizens around the city unite to create their own ‘escapes,’ much to the chagrin of Shady Oaks Retirement Village staff members George and A.J. George & A.J. is the only short in this collection I hadn’t previously seen and the only one not released through traditional means – it was originally only available on iTunes to people that purchased Up on DVD/Blu-ray. It also features the least animation, existing mostly as moving storyboards. It’s a very silly little title that only falls short due to the fact that it’s built around a single joke. George & A.J. is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and is likely the least impressive film in the collection. It isn’t that it’s an unattractive transfer, the animation is just so slim and flat there’s just not a lot going on. The colours and edges are strong, at the very least. The simple animation quality doesn’t get in the way of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which shows little sign of compression effects. In fact, the filmmakers depend quite a bit on sound effects to create the illusion of sound, leading to some surprisingly loud stereo and surround enhancements. Michael Giacchino once again reprises his role as composer, though I suspect these are entirely recycled cues. Included is a commentary from director Josh Cooley.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

Day & Night

(6:00)
Day is a sunny fellow, who encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly dark moods. As their suspicions turn to curiosity, they are delighted to find that this budding friendship can offer a new perspective on the world. Day and Night is probably the most experimental of all the shorts and, assuming you saw it in a 3D theater where it aired in front of Toy Story 3, one of the most innovative. Once again, I am reminded of Chuck Jones, though this time Pixar recalls the director’s more experimental work, along with a dash of Fantasia. Day and Night is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This transfer depends on utter clarity to separate the 2D and 3D elements and features none of the banding effects that sometimes accompany animated features with similar smooth, blue blends. The story theme also gives way to huge colour and vibrancy contrasts. This is the first uncompressed audio choice in the collection, which is good, because that means this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack matches the original release that came along with the Toy Story 3 Blu-ray. It’s also good, because the sound design here is extremely dynamic, eclectic, and ambitious. Michael Giacchino’s jazzy score (yes, him again) is an extra special treat. Included is a commentary track with director Teddy Newton and layout artist Sandra Karpman.

Hawaiian Vacation

(5:50)
The post-third film Toy Story gang attempts to relax while new owner Bonnie and her mother take a vacation in Hawaii. Ken and Barbie try to sneak along, but only make it as far as Bonnie’s bedroom. The other toys take pity and make up the bedroom to look like a tropical wonderland. Hawaiian Vacation was released with the Cars 2 DVD/Blu-ray and is another of the cute, but not particularly memorable entries in this set. Still, it’s impressive that the producers managed to score the entire original Toy Story 3 cast to voice it and the very last gag before the credits made me laugh out loud. Hawaiian Vacation is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and matches the basic Toy Story aesthetic, including realistic fine textures and cartoonish, and a diverse colour palette. Hawaiian Vacation was directed by sound designer Gary Rydstrom, so it’s little surprise that this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is lively, despite the short’s small scale. There’s a lot of sound contrast here, specifically the pops that accompany jokes and the softer ambience of the toys’ moving parts. Wes Anderson favourite Mark Mothersbaugh composed this particular score and kind of/sort of matches the tone set by Toy Story series composer Randy Newman, but also takes advantage of the short’s Hawaiian theme. The brief percussion is the track’s most outstanding moment. Included is a commentary track with director Gary Rydstrom, story supervisor Jason Katz, and supervising animator Angus MacLane.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

Air Mater

(5:20)
In this hilarious short, Mater decides he wants to learn how to fly and is accidentally recruited by an elite group of formation flyers, the Falcon Hawks. Air Mater was released with the Cars 2 DVD/Blu-ray and is kind of terrible. It may just be my dislike of the character, especially post-second film, but it may also be the fact that this is mostly an elongated ad for Disney’s straight to video Planes feature, which still hasn’t been released. This short is presented in a TV-friendly 1.78:1 ratio, instead of the Cars’ theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. The image quality matches the weird mix of hyperrealism and hyper-cartoonism that was utilized for the Cars movies. There’s nothing to complain about in terms of banding effects or compression effects. I believe Air Mater was presented in DTS-HD MA sound on the Cars 2 disc, while, here, it features a wide Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. The mechanical sounds of the various vehicular characters give the mix plenty of subtlety, but it’s the directionally enhanced jet effects that make this particular track nice. Mark Mothersbaugh composed the Cars Toons theme, but no one is credited with composing the short’s ‘50s guitar rock stuff. Included is a commentary with director Rob Gibbs, producer Kim Adams and production designer Bob Pauley.

Small Fry

(7:10)
Buzz Lightyear is left behind at a fast food restaurant where he finds himself in a support group for discarded toys. As Woody and the gang devise a way to rescue their friend, Buzz tries to escape the toy psychotherapy meeting. Small Fry is part of the studio’s three Toy Story Toons releases and originally aired in front of The Muppets. I don’t believe it has ever been released on the home video format. There’s a lot of story crammed into this tiny movie and a lot of nostalgic comedy for those of us that remember the ‘golden age’ of kids’ meal toys. A clever concept adorably realized. This 1.78:1 transfer is another one that appropriately apes the look of the Toy Story movies, including another wide range of colour and texture choices. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack follows the lead set by Rydstrom’s short (not to mention his work on the other Toy Story films), once again creating a surprisingly large scope of sound from a small-scale adventure. It’s the more subtle sounds of moving parts that impresses me, though the louder sound of Buzz struggling to get out of a playground ball pit is pretty incredible in its immersive qualities. Included is a commentary with director Angus MacLane.

Time Travel Mater

(6:20)
When a clock lands on Mater’s engine, he travels back in time to 1910 where he meets Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs. Another ‘Cars Toons’ short (of which there are 11), this is the only short in the collection to have premiered on television rather than theatrically or on home video. Again, I assume that fans of the Cars movies will enjoy this short more than I did. Time Travel Mater generally matches the lead set by Air Mater, including a crisp and colourful 1.78:1 HD transfer and a loud Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The silent film sepia tone, traditional black and white, and misaligned Technicolor strips all add nice contrast to the Cars house style, but otherwise, we’re looking at more of the same. Included is a commentary with director Rob Gibbs, editor Torbin Xan Bullock, and production designer Anthony Christov.

Pixar Short Film Collection 2

La Luna

(Directed by Enrico Casarosa)
The timeless fable of a young boy coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances, in which he discovers his Papa’s and Grandpa’s unusual line of work. La Luna was included with the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Brave, so this is the second time in a week I’ve watched it for review. This is another of the more artistically ambitious shorts in the set. It sort of screams ‘Oscar bait,’ actually, with all of its adorable, surrealist, and vaguely foreign look. But we aren’t going to hold ambition against it, though, especially since it lost the Academy Award to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. This last entry is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and excels particularly, thanks to a limited colour palette (mostly blue and yellow with warmer brown and red undertones), its use of black, and subtle textural choices. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack matches the Brave Blu-ray release. The sound here is notable for its more delicate qualities – there are some loud moments and plenty of directional enhancement, but the softer qualities are what define the mix. Michael Giacchino provides another score here and his warm strings sound positively ethereal throughout. Included is a commentary with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Kevin Reher.

Additional Extras


Besides the commentary tracks that accompany each short, the set also features a series of Pixar’s more famous staff’s student films. These include Nitemare (7:14, HD) with optional introduction from John Lasseter, Lady and the Lamp[I] (6:00, HD) with optional introduction from Lasseter, [I]Somewhere in the Artic (5:40, HD) with optional introduction from Andrew Stanton, A Story (6:50, HD) with optional introduction from Stanton, Winter (3:30, HD) with optional introduction from Pete Docter, Palm Springs (3:20, HD) with option introduction form Docter, and Next Door (6:30, HD) with optional introduction from Docter. These shorts are all impressive in their own way and, ironically enough, some (especially Next Door) are better than the big budget features on this disc.

* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.


Links: