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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Action > Adventure > Computer Animation > Disney/ Pixar’s Toy Story (1995) + Toy Story 2 (1999/Blu-rays w/DVDs)

Disney/ Pixar’s Toy Story (1995) + Toy Story 2 (1999/Blu-ray w/DVD)

 

Picture: A     Sound: A     Extras: B+     Films: A/A-

 

 

There are some stories that are so overwhelmingly creative that you sit back in awe as the tale unfolds; Toy Story is one of those tales.  Now, I slightly prefer Toy Story over Toy Story 2 as a single entity, but the stories blend so seamlessly that it is a mere preference issue.  With Toy Story 3 on the horizon it is no shock that we have found the arrival of the now classic tales on Blu-ray; a format that Pixar creations were seemingly destined for.  With every new Pixar feature film on Blu-ray I am absolutely amazed, they are the best of the best; not only gripping in content, but the audio/visual experience is equally astonishing.  Toy Story was the breakout moment for CGI animation, while Disney had well established hand-drawn animated features for decades, its partnership with Pixar exemplified that there is always more out there.  The plot of the Toy Story films are as captivating as any feature film out there; showing that CG animation was a force to be reckoned with.

 

-The Plot-

 

Toy Story

 

The story that started it all for Pixar (feature film wise at least) quickly establishes a base of characters that range from classic toys to completely new creations.  As the story goes, when kids are away the toys shall play.  Toy Story answers the question that we all at some point imagined, that yes toys do come to life when we aren’t looking.  The toys in this tale are owned by a good hearted boy named Andy, who loves all his toys but seems to hold some special affection for his cowboy doll Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks).  A wrench is thrown into the works for Woody, however, when a flashy Spaceman named Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) to Andy for his Birthday.  Woody is suddenly filled with jealousy as he worries for his place in Andy’s world now that a new toy is in town.  Buzz, however, is different than the other toys (who he quickly impresses) as he is somewhat delusional in thinking that he is a real space hero, rather than a toy for children to love.  The story then launches on an adventure in which Woody has mixed emotions on ousting Buzz or making a new friend.  Buzz may be delusional, but Woody’s morals get the best of him as he goes from kicking Buzz to the curb to saving his helmet from the brink of destruction.

 

Toy Story 2

 

With the characters of the Toy Story universe well established, the second chapter got us up to speed on the life of Andy’s toys while at the same time introducing some new characters.  Woody (once again voiced by Tom Hanks) is accidentally sold (taken) at a yard sale and finds himself in the hands of a toy collector.  The toy collector plans on selling Woody to an overseas buyer, willing to pay the big bucks, for a complete Woody’s Roundup collection.  Apparently Woody (his character) had a quite famous TV series back in the day and his merchandise is now worth quite a bit.  Woody faces the reality that one day Andy will grow up and stop playing (“loving”) him; so should he spend the rest of his days in pristine, museum quality plastic or gamble with Andy’s love?  We are introduced to the rest of Woody’s crew in the form of a horse named Bull’s-eye, a boisterous cowgirl named Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack) and a scruffy old miner named Stinky Pete (voiced by Kelsey Grammer).  While Woody struggles with his future the toys back at Andy’s place are on a mission to rescue their missing comrade.  It will not be an easy journey, but Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen once again) as well as the rest of the crew are up to the task.  The question is will Woody be willing to go once they find him?

 

 

- My Thoughts-

 

WOW! It is amazing to think how quickly Pixar established a cavalcade of classic characters.  There are those shining moments in cinematic history and Toy Story is now one of them.  Pixar has managed to impress us time and time again with their overwhelmingly powerful, yet simple tales.  The reason the stories stick with us is because the characters are astounding well rounded and heartwarming; engraining themselves in our memory.  From Buzz and Woody to Slinky the Dog we are mesmerized by the Pixar creations; not only for their beautiful look, but because they leap from the screen with life.

 

Toy Story (as well as its sequel) established that CG animation could create new and fantastic worlds full of emotion, soul and diversity.  Disney had long shown that the joys of animation were not limited to an audience of children, but that adults across the board would be captivated by their creativity; Pixar has now taken that premise to the next level.

 

With each passing film Pixar is perfecting the craft that Toy Story established.  Even the differences in style/technique between Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are jaw dropping; as we see first hand the leaps in quality the format can make in just a few short years.

 

Pixar will continue to deliver amazing stories, but we must not forget the toys that started it all.  Without Toy Story there would be no UP or Finding Nemo. If we can make any judgments based on the first two films, Toy Story 3 will only heighten the established tale.  Snow White has not lost its power and generations continue to look to the film for inspiration and pleasure; Toy Story has that same epic power and will remain a classic.

 

Pixar are the storytellers of today, spinning tales that will be passed down for generations.

 

- The Technical Features-

 

Pixar continues to showcase what Blu-ray was made for, solid picture and sound.  Both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are examples of perfection on Blu-ray.  The 1080p image is rich with vivid colors, stunning textures and pristine crispness that not many other films have delivered on Blu-ray.  Without a doubt (comparing it to more current Pixar) Toy Story slightly shows its age as certain characters lack the depth and detail, but that does not reflect poorly on the image quality; even Toy Story 2 (as previously mentioned) made leaps and bounds over its predecessor and remains the only computer animated film in cinema history issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor prints while the format was revived between 1997 and 2001.  Coming from the original final digital source here, I could not get over the image’s clarity and crispness; comparing the DVD and Blu-ray side-by-side was an astonishing moment.  I thought the DVD had always looked amazing, but the DVD does not hold a candle to the firestorm of bright colors, framing blacks and rich textures of the Blu-ray for Toy Story and Toy Story 2.  The sound is just as impressive with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround presentation bringing the story to life.  The soundscape is huge and immersive as every speaker is utilized.  Directionality is perfect and ambient noises are heard throughout.  The dialogue could not be any cleaner and soundtrack is perfectly prioritized, never being overwhelming, but managing to compliment the action.  Pixar on Blu-ray is becoming synonymous with perfection.

 

- The Extra Features-

 

Toy Story

·         Sneak Peek at Toy Story 3 “The Story” (HD)

·         Audio Commentary (HD)

o        An insightful look at the film with cast and crew.  The feature is overflowing with love and enthusiasm.

·         Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw (HD)

o        WOW! This just goes to show how the film could have went all wrong, but how at the last minute the team swooped in the make things right.

·         Paths To Pixar: The Artists (HD)

·         Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (HD)

o        A few characters from the film discuss Buzz’s time on the International Space Station.

·         3 Animated Studio Stories (HD)

o        Some shorts that reflect the happenings of the Pixar crew during the films’ creation.

·         Buzz Takes Manhattan (HD)

o        Lasseter discusses (very briefly) the Buzz float in the Macy’s parade.

·         Making Toy Story (SD)

·         Filmmakers Reflect (SD)

·         Deleted Scenes and Design Galleries (SD)

·         The Legacy of Toy Story (SD)

·         Design (SD)

o        This as well as the special features list below delve into the different aspects of the film that brought it to life and how not one element could exist without the other.  Very insightful and lengthy.

·         Story (SD)

·         Production (SD)

·         Music and Sound (SD)

·         Publicity (SD)

 

Toy Story 2

  • Audio Commentary (HD)
    • Just as lively as the Toy Story commentary, as Lasseter attempts to courageously describes the odds which were against him, while trying to keep his crew inspired.
  • Sneak Peek at Toy Story 3 “The Characters” (HD)
  • 3 Animated Studio Stories (HD)
    • 3 new animated stories (like those found on the Toy Story Blu-ray) that reflect the trials and tribulations of the Pixar crew.
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs (HD)
    • The second installment of the Space Station adventure Buzz took part in
  • Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists (HD)
  • Pixar’s Zoetrope (HD)
    • Describes the Zoetrope attraction as the Disney theme parks.
  • Celebrating our friend Joe Ranft (HD)
    • A fitting tribute to a man who contributed time and time again to the Pixar creative process.  He was a voice actor, artist and overall powerful entity to the team.  He sadly passed away in a 2005 car accident, but is graciously remembered here.
  • Making of Toy Story 2 (SD)
  • John Lasseter Profile (SD)
  • Cast of Characters (SD)
  • Toy Box (SD)
    • A host of ‘snip-its’ of Toy Story 2 moments are found here including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen fighting over who is the cooler toy, as well as the ‘staged outtake’ segments that ran during the original credits.  Certainly a gem to watch.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD)
    • A short 4-minute segment of unfinished scenes that don’t add much to the film.
  • Design (SD)
    • Falling in line with the features introduced on the Toy Story Blu-ray, those found here explore in ~ 15-25 minute segments the workings of creating a classic.
  • Production (SD)
  • Music & Sound (SD)
  • Publicity (SD)

 

** Note: Not all these features are available on the DVD release and can only be found on the Blu-ray

 

I am constantly amazed at the quality Pixar delivers.  Classic stories with creatively captivating animation.  Buzz may have originated the saying, but Pixar continues to go to infinity and beyond.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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