Toy Story 3 (US - BD)
Gabe continues to play catch-up with the latest Toy Story film from Pixar Studios...
The Toy Story team (well, most of them) is back. Their boy, Andy, is becoming a man, and leaving for college, which means a trip to the attic for the foreseeable future. But when Andy’s mom accidentally takes them to the curb for garbage the toys decide to take their chances being donated to a local child care. At first their new home seems like a dream come true, but soon dire elements start to rear their ugly heads, and the child care turns into a nightmare of toy sized proportions.
I’m not sure I could’ve been less sold on the concept of a Toy Story 3. First off, I thought pretty much the whole story was covered in those first two perfect films, and I knew part of the reason Pixar put the third film into production was because Disney threatened to do it without them (If that would’ve happened it probably would’ve turned me off to the project entirely). Next up were worries leaked from the behind the scenes front about story not working, and trailers that promised more of the same – practically a thematic remake of part two. But audience excitement eventually got the better of me, and I saw the film in theaters, which extremely tempered expectations. I was not ready for such a dark and emotionally effective film, perhaps even the darkest in Pixar’s history (and that obviously includes Wall-E, which has the superiorly bummer underlying issues). I remember at one point looking around the theater and noticing most of the children were nearly asleep with boredom (‘I’m bored and want to go home’ was literally blurted by a little girl on my right), while the parents were enthralled, their tear glazed eyes transfixed to the screen. Then I started to think about the massive money the film was pulling in, and wondering why these kids weren’t having fun. I realized that it’s probably actually the parent’s word of mouth making this beast it’s cash haul, and that was kind of beautiful. I’m guessing this means a Best Picture nod now that there are 10 slots.
The first Toy Story was a not so thinly veiled metaphor for accepting change (including some Freudian issues), while Toy Story 2 was a not so thinly veiled metaphor for the inevitability of mortality. Toy Story 3, which looked like more abandonment issues coupled with ‘incredible journey’ motifs, is actually a pretty powerful, thinly veiled metaphor for letting children become adults. This doesn’t totally separate it thematically from part two, but it is a different story, and the creators have actually made the ‘incredible journey’ motif (which was also used for producer/series original director John Lasseter’s The Brave Little Toaster) a near non-issue. The journey from place to place is almost entirely deleted in-fact. It’s also interesting that the writers and directors are mostly avoiding the Great Escape and Oceans 11 motifs for the escape sequence, both of which have already been done perfectly on many occasions, including Aardman Animation’s Chicken Run and Finding Nemo. Toy Story 3 isn’t the best of the three, or even a 100% needed, but it’s probably one of the best unneeded sequels I’ve ever seen. It’s emotionally affecting to the point of genuine tears (shut up), it’s a satisfying capper on the series (I’d like to see them try to make Toy Story 4 now, no that is not a dare Disney), and it’s got some really funny movements (Tortilla-Head’ is a riot). The scene of impending death acceptance is perhaps one of the most shockingly effective things I’ve ever seen on screen. And Jesus Christ Big Baby is frightening.
I don’t think there’s any surprise in me stating that Toy Story 3 looks pretty spectacular in 1080p high definition. The real beauty starts with the mushroom cloud explosion of red monkeys. There’s really nothing brighter or higher in detail than that anywhere, but other scenes feature stronger diversity of elements and contrast. Colour themes change regularly throughout, including bright daylight from outside and smack in the middle of the outdoors. Personally I’m partial to the neon interiors of the in the seedy interior of the bad toy’s gambling parlor. Normally it’d be easy to tease the plastic-ness of some of the characters, but in this case it’s clearly an intended look. More impressive are new characters, like Lotso, whose dirtied hair is perfectly recognizable to anyone who may have held onto a stuffed toy a little too far into adulthood. Not that I have. The lights and contrasts against these differing textures is, next to the purity of the colours, make this a must see transfer.
Guess what else isn’t surprising? This DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds incredible. It’s too bad they don’t supply the effects only tracks any more on these discs, because there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep track of it all at times. The opening title action scene is probably the most impressive aural achievement on the disc, from music, to effects both subtle and unmissably loud, like the blowing of a bridge, or of Buzz’s rockets. The musical score is all over the place here, as is perfect for the scene, which makes as much sense as any child’s play time. The climatic junk yard section is the other reference level section, with all its whirring gears, bellowing flames, and tiny trinkets
The extras begin with the original opening cartoon short Day and Night (6:00, HD), one of the studio’s most creative and artistically challenging shorts. Worthy of Chuck Jones’ most abstract and strange shorts, this is presented in full 1080p and DTS-HD sound. The sound is an extra special treat, so play it loud. Also included on the first Blu-ray is another ‘Buzz Lightyear’s Mission Logs’ (4:30, HD), footage from a toy’s time aboard the ISS, ‘Toys’ (6:40, HD), a discussion of how many toys are actually in the film, and bringing all these characters to life at one time, (is it racist that they gave Spanish Buzz to the Spanish guy to animate?), and a series of sneak peaks.
This brings us to the second Blu-ray disc, which starts with the ‘Family Play’ second, which itself starts with ‘Gang’s All Here’ (HD 10:20) is a fluffy little behind the scenes with the voice cast, what is informative enough, but appears to have been made for television. ‘Goodbye Andy’ (HD, 8:00 ) a specific discussion of the last scene in the film, and making the human characters look different than the toys. ‘Accidental Toymakers’ (HD, 4:00) discusses the toy lines that follow the films. ‘A Toy’s Eye View’ (HD, 5:20) discusses the series’ legacy at the Disney theme parks, specifically those in France and Hong Kong. The section is completed with the film’s epilogue without the credits running over it (HD, 4:20).
The big extra, which for some reason wasn’t included with the movie proper, is a Cine-Explore option, found under the ‘Film Fans’ tab. It’s really more of a commentary with director/producer Lee Unkrich, and producer Darla K. Anderson set with pop-up slides and animatics. It’s not so much interactive experience, but it’s an informative track, with very little silence. This is supported by a second commentary track (also mysteriously absent from the first disc in the collection) featuring animation leads, technical director, story supervisor, and the production designer. This track is more sedate despite the number of participants, but it does fill in all the technical cracks left by Unkrich and Anderson while they discuss story and production more. The section also features ‘Roundin’ up a Western Opening’ (HD, 5:40), a look from the top to the bottom of the film’s epic opening minutes, ‘Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable’ (HD, 6:30), which sort of speaks for itself, ‘Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion’ (HD, 8:10), a cute animated piece about the screenwriting process (really a special piece), ‘Life of a Shot’ (HD, 7:00), a study of how many people are utilized in the making of a single shot, ‘The Making of: Day and Night’ (HD, 2:00), an all to short look at the opening short, and ‘Paths to Pixar’ (HD, 4:40), about the Pixar editors, My favourite part of the disc are the ‘Studio Stories’ shorts, told in simple animatic. ‘Where’s Gordon’ (HD, 2:10) is all about decorating a hidden room (covered a bit on the Monster’s Inc. extras), Cereal Bar’ (1:40) covers the official Pixar cereal bar, and ‘Clean Start’ (HD, 3:00) is the story of the crew shaving their heads for the production.
The disc ends with a ‘Toy Story Trivia Dash’, and a publicity tab that includes a grab bag of ads and odds and ends like ‘Ken’s Dating Tips’, pretend ‘Lots-o-Huggin’ Bear’ ads, a making of the Bear ads, trailers, TV spots, and a poster gallery.
Toy Story 3 bucks my expectations and lives up to the series despite it still feeling pretty unnecessary. The disc looks and sounds as perfect as expected, and the extras, though oddly delegated between discs, are pretty informative and entertaining.
Review by Gabriel Powers
All ages admitted
Release Date: 2nd November 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Day and Night Short, Toys, Buzz Lightyear’s Mission Logs, Gang's All Here, Accidental Toymakers, A Toy’s Eye View, Epilogue without Credits, Cine-Explore Commentary, Roundin’ up a Western Opening, Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable, Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion, The Making of Day and Night, Paths to Pixar, Studio Stories, Toy Story Trivia Dash, Trailers, Promos, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lee Unkrich
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton
Genre: Adventure, Animation and Comedy
Length: 103 minutes
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