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TOY STORY 3

Noting Hollywood’s track record, I tend to expect diminishing returns on film sequels. However, Pixar is unlike most other Hollywood studios and aren’t just in the business to make a buck. I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed by a Pixar movie, and was quite confident that this particular animation company wouldn’t be releasing a second sequel to their first feature film, unless they had a worthwhile story to tell with their beloved characters. Pixar’s TOY STORY 3 ($46) is unquestionably another CGI animated gem from the company that put this type of motion picture on the cinematic map. Over the years, the folks at Pixar have matured as storytellers, in addition to technical leaps they have made that have enhanced the beauty of their computer generated imagery. Said storytelling maturity has translated into wondrously witty recent animated films like RATATOUILLE and UP, not to mention Pixar’s out and out masterpiece- WALL•E. TOY STORY 3 also benefits from the Pixar creative team’s maturity as storytellers, yet the film never looses the childlike sense of wonder that made the original film an instant classic.

TOY STORY 3 acknowledges the passage of time from the first two films in the series and tells a deeper, more heartfelt and introspective story. When we first met the toys belonging to a young boy named Andy, he was eight years old and Andy’s toys were a large part of his world. As TOY STORY 3 opens, Andy is seventeen years old, and only a few days away from leaving for college. Over the years, some of Andy’s old toys have been sold off at yard sales, but a small group of toys that are especially near and dear to him remain in an old toy chest, despite the fact that they are no longer played with. Since Andy is leaving for college, his mother issues an ultimatum for him to clean out his room- everything he is not taking to college is either going into the attic for storage, being donated to charity or will be thrown out as trash. Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) finds himself placed in the college bound box, while Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and the rest of Andy’s toys are placed in a plastic bag intended for storage in the attic.

Unfortunately, there is a mix-up with the toys that were destined for the attic, which results in them being donated to Sunnyside Daycare. Woody tries to convince the other toys of the mix-up, but the accidentally donated toys decide they would be better off at remaining at Sunnyside Daycare. Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty) is in charge of the toys at Sunnyside, and he assigns Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys to the room with the youngest children, who innocently abuse them. When Buzz tries to request a transfer for himself and rest of Andy’s toys, Lots-O reveals his true nature as a heartless dictator and he uses his enforcer toys to maintain control. Lots-O manages to reprogram Buzz to his original factory settings, and uses him to keep the rest of Andy’s toys under lockdown. Meanwhile, Woody learns the harsh truth about Lots-O and his iron fisted control Sunnyside Daycare, which sends our cowboy hero off on a rescue mission to free his friends from their toy prison. The superb vocal talent behind TOY STORY 3 also features Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Jodi Benson, Emily Hahn, Laurie Metcalf, Blake Clark, Teddy Newton, Bud Luckey, Beatrice Miller, Javier Fernandez Pena, Timothy Dalton, Lori Alan, Charlie Bright, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, John Cygan, Jeff Pidgeon, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Angel, R. Lee Ermey, Jan Rabson, Richard Kind, Amber Kroner, Brianna Maiwand, Jack Willis and Erik von Detten.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (and Pixar) has made TOY STORY 3 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. If you are expecting anything other than a flawlessly perfect 1080p presentation from a brand new Pixar movie, then perhaps you are reading the wrong review. TOY STORY 3 is a breathtakingly beautiful computer animated film. Taken directly from the digital files, each and every frame of TOY STORY 3 is a visual treat. Foreground objects always looking incredibly sharp and well defined, and dependent upon the filmmakers intended depth of field for individual shots, backgrounds can appear equally rich or purposely out of focus. Texture mapping is incredible, despite the intentionally plastic appearance of many of the toys in the film. Color reproduction is glorious, whether it be the brightly colored hues of the toys or the more pastel shades of the world they inhabit. Blacks are perfect, as are the whites. Contrast and shadow detail are as virtually perfect as the computers could render them. Again, coming from the digital files, TOY STORY 3 is free from grain, noise and other imperfections. As with the rest of the Pixar catalog on Blu-ray, TOY STORY 3 is absolutely perfect and totally reference quality.

TOY STORY 3 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. TOY STORY 3 is every bit a sonic wonder as it is a visual wonder. Wholly enveloping, the sound design proves itself to be completely aggressive during the film’s climatic sequences, while also offering subtlety and nuance in its effects placement during quieter moments. All of the outlying channels engage nicely, with sound effects effortlessly moving about the soundstage in tandem to the onscreen action. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is truly excellent with Randy Newman’s music reaping the benefits. The bass channel is deep and full bodied. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, plus French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread throughout the set. Disc one offers the Day & Night animated short that accompanied TOY STORY 3 in theaters, as well as Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science Of Adventure, which takes our favorite action figure to the International Space Station. TOY STORY 3 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving on to disc two, one will find the bulk of the supplemental materials. Starting things off on disc two is a Cine-Explore mode (requires a Profile 1.1 player) that includes a running Video Commentary with director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla Anderson, which has been augmented with in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements, which include animated storyboards, concept art and reference video footage. Additionally there is a second track entitled Beyond The Toybox: An Alternative Commentary Track, which features supervising animator Bobby Podesta, supervising technical director Guido Quaroni, production designer Bob Pauley, supervising animator Mike Venturini and story supervisor Jason Katz. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Beginnings: Setting A Story In Motion (eight minutes), Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable (seven minutes), Roundin’ Up A Western Opening (six minutes), Life Of A Shot (seven minutes), Goodbye Andy (eight minutes), Accidental Toymakers (four minutes), Making Of Day & Night (two minutes), Paths To Pixar: Editorial (five minutes), The Gang’s All Here (eleven minutes) and A Toy’s Eye View: Creating A Whole New Land (six minutes). Three Studio Stories, the film’s Epilogue, minus closing credits and an extended selection of Publicity Materials, including Trailers close out the standard supplements.

Disc three contains a DVD edition of TOY STORY 3. Disc four contains a Digital Copy of the film.

Although it is a second sequel, TOY STORY 3 is a wonderful film in its own right that finds the Pixar team at the height of their storytelling prowess. The Blu-ray presentation goes to the top of the demo pile… as if there was any doubt. Absolutely positively recommended.

 
TOY STORY 3 


Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2010)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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