Toy Story 3

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Nov 01, 2010
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Lee Unkrich

Release Date(s)

2010 (November 2, 2010)

Studio(s)

Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Review

It’s been ten years since we last saw Woody and Buzz, and young Andy has grown up.  Now he’s headed off to college.  But every young man who leaves home for the first time faces a decision: which favorite childhood toys should go along?  Which should be packed up into the attic?  And which should be given away?

Faced with the prospect of being split up and gathering dust in a box for the rest of their lives, Woody, Buzz and the gang decide to donate themselves to a local daycare in the hope of finding new kids to love them.  But when they get there, the kids aren’t what they expected... and the daycare’s other toys, led by the menacing Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, aren’t particularly welcoming either.  Can they find their way back to Andy before it’s too late?

Toy Story 3 is a warmly told and fitting conclusion to the Toy Story trilogy, true not just to the spirit of the characters and their overall journey, but even to the logical life of the toys we all loved as kids in real life.  All of the major voice actors return to reprise their roles, the story is emotionally grounded and character-driven, and Pixar’s animation has only grown better with age – it’s never looked better.  The film is also the most adult of the trilogy in terms of its themes – with real jeopardy for Woody and the gang – but there are laughs a-plenty too.  Case in point: Mr. Tortilla Head.  I’ll say no more.  It’s just better for you to see it yourself.

You’ll be pleased to know that the film itself looks damn near perfect – every bit as good as Pixar’s previous films on Blu-ray, and then some.  The reason is that Disc One of this Blu-ray is almost entirely devoted to the film itself.  Nearly all of the bonus content – including the Cine-Explore PiP mode – is found on Disc Two of the set.  The picture and sound have the maximum amount of BD-50 disc space to breathe.  That means less compression, max data rates and terrific video and audio quality.  Colors are bold and vibrant, details are crisp without looking overly edgy, and there’s virtually no compression artifacting visible.  What’s more, lossless audio is present in BOTH 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD mixes, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 in a variety of languages and plenty of subtitle and captioning options too.

In terms of extras (in addition to the film), Disc One of the Blu-ray includes the 6-minute Day & Night animated short that appeared with TS3 in theatres.  You also get another Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs featurette (4 minutes), shot aboard the Space Station with the assistance of NASA, the Toys! behind-the-scenes piece on the process of animating all the different ‘toy’ characters for the film (especially Lots-o – 6 mins), a Digital Copy “how to” and previews of other new and forthcoming Disney DVD/BD releases, including Mater’s Tall Tales and The Incredibles.  To this, Disc Two of the Blu-ray adds an entire second version of the film in HD featuring Cine-Explore.  This includes not only an excellent audio commentary with director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, but also TONS of PiP artwork, photos, videos and other behind-the-scenes material – a constant stream of it throughout the presentation.  There’s also a second Beyond the Toybox commentary with additional production crew members, featurettes on the film’s opening (6 mins), a storyboard roundtable (6 mins), writing the story (8 mins), the making of Day & Night (2 min), a piece called Life of a Shot (7 mins), a new Paths to Pixar piece (5 mins) and 3 more Studio Stories featurettes (7 mins total), including one on the importance of free cereal to the creative process at Pixar.  More generally, there are 4 additional behind-the-scenes featurettes (about 30 minutes total) on the voice cast, the process of making the real toys and additional fun but more general topics.  You also get to see the film’s complete Epilogue animation without credits.  There are the usual trailers and TV spots (including the Japanese trailers), as well as lots of other publicity clips and a poster gallery.  My favorite of the lot – frankly, almost my favorite extra on this whole set – are fake vintage U.S. and Japanese TV commercials for Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, complete with third-generation-down VHS scan problems!  I just about fell out of my seat watching these – they’re extremely well done!  Finally, there’s a Toy Story Trivia Dash BD-Live game.  All of these extras are sorted into categories by user appeal – Family PlanFilm Fans, etc.  There’s also a screen saver, and all the extras are available in multiple language and subtitle combinations.  And there’s Fast Play, Disney’s option to make it easier for casual viewers to start sampling extras based on their time and level of interest.  Beyond the Blu-rays, there’s a standard-def DVD copy of the film, and a Digital Copy disc too.  I do miss the days when Disney and Pixar would release separate versions of their films on disc – one geared toward general, family viewers and one toward serious film fans. Still, there’s a TON of content here.  All of it is surprisingly fun, sometimes silly and always interesting, so it’s tough to complain.

I’m truly glad that Disney and Pixar decided to end this series here, and as endings go, I think director Lee Unkrich and his creative team nailed it.  Toy Story 3 delivers heart and laughs a-plenty, and leaves you with a smile on your face.  I’m sure there will be Blu-ray 3D versions of these films soon enough, but you don’t need 3D to tell – or end – a great tale.  Don’t miss it!

Bill Hunt

 

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