If for some reason you haven’t seen Toy Story or you haven’t seen it in years, there’s no better time to see it again, now in Blu-ray high-def with some decent extras to keep you occupied, plus both the audio and video are top notch and well worth the upgrade. With regards to the 3D Blu-ray, it was surprising to see something that was post converted to 3D looked so good.
Genre(s): Animation, Comedy
Disney | G – 81 min. – $49.99 | November 1, 2011
Directed by: John Lasseter
Writer(s): John Lasseter & Peter Docter & Andrew Stanton & Joe Ranft (story), Joss Whedon & Andrew Stanton and Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney
Theatrical Release Date: November 22, 1995
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Trailers, Blu-ray Copy, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 4
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD 2.0), French (Dolby Digital EX 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital EX 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.75/5
Toy Story, the movie that started it all for Disney and Pixar in the computer animated craze that has produced many classics (spanning beyond Pixar) and billions of dollars in revenue. But it is Toy Story that I always look to as the standard in both animation and storytelling to compare the rest with, and while newer movies certainly have made progress in the animation process, you still have to admire what John Lassiter and his team at Pixar did in an animation genre that, for all intent and purposes, was a dying medium.
What was most ingenious wasn’t just the amazing animation but it came with a wonderful story that is just as enjoyable for the adults as it is for kids of all ages. Toy Story, if you already didn’t know, follows a bunch of toys that come to life when nobody is around. The clan, led by cowboy Woody (TOM HANKS), is shaken up when Andy, their owner, has a birthday party where he receives the coolest toy in Buzz Lightyear (TIM ALLEN), a space commander who threatens Woody’s leadership and love from Andy. Woody will do anything to get back on top but soon he is cast out when Buzz was accidentally hit out of the bedroom window. Now Woody and Buzz must work together to get back to Andy.
It doesn’t sound like much of a plot, and yes it is fairly simple and straight-forward, but it is still entertaining to me now as it was then, 15 years ago. Beyond the animation and story, a big reason for the film’s success and resilience is the brilliant voice casting of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. As a featurette on this very Blu-ray contends, neither were the superstars they had become when Toy Story was released as Hanks would go on to win the Oscar for Philadelphia and star in a few more movies (including Apollo 13) and Tim Allen found success on “Home Improvement”, getting these two together and the antithesis bond they form, the best of voice chemistry that I can think of, is something to behold. Their voices are perfect for their respective roles with Tim Allen doing a fantastic job hamming it up as a heroic, and naïve, space commander.
Of course, the movie also relies heavily on the supporting voice cast as well: Don Rickles as the sarcastic Mr. Potato Head; Wallace Shawn as an insecure T-Rex; John Ratzenberger as the smarty-pants piggy bank, Hamm; and the late and semi-great Jim Varney playing the soulful Slinky Dog (Blake Clark will be doing the voice for the third outing). Sure, these aren’t A-list voice talents, but in typical Pixar fashion, they cast the voices not the names (see: Ed Asner for Up).
Toy Story is directed by Pixar-god – and now chief creative officer for the studio – who would go on to direct the sequel and Cars, though it seems his filmography is made up of producing the Pixar films including Toy Story 3. Others involved with TS include Andrew Stanton director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, Pete Docter who helmed Monsters Inc. and Up and, this surprised me I guess since he wasn’t as big of a name at the time, Joss Whedon, creator/writer of “Buffy”, “Angel” and “Firefly”. Point is, Pixar and Disney put together a great crew and together they created a true modern classic, a movie that has stood the test of time and will remain as such for decades to come, long after we’re gone (that’s not hyperbole, I do believe that).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
Note: All the features that came with the 2-disc Blu-ray release are the same here. The 3D Blu-ray disc does not contain any features. The 3D Blu-ray comes housed in an HD Keep Case with a lenticular slip cover.
Audio Commentary – This was originally available since the “Ultimate Toy Box” and ported for the “Anniversary Edition”. The track includes Director John Lasseter, Co-Writer Andrew Stanton, Supervising Animator Peter Docter, Art Director Ralph Eggleston, Supervising Technical Director Bill Reeves and Producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold. With such a large number of people involved, there isn’t a dull moment as the commentators talk about various aspects of the production, voice casting and the like.
Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: “The Story” (2:02; HD) is a quick look at the plot for the upcoming and highly anticipated sequel with clips from said movie.
Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (3:27; HD) is a live-action/animated short where Buzz shows off his trip to space on the Discovery Space Shuttle. This is a education tool for kids to learn about NASA and space travel. It’s pretty funny that the Buzz Lightyear toy was in space on these missions.
Paths to Pixar – Artists (4:47; HD) takes a look at a few of the artists working for Pixar and their recollections from childhood and their influences on why they wanted to work in the profession.
Next up are 3 Studio Stories, one about “John’s Car” (1:27; HD), “Baby AJ” (1:38; HD) and “Scooter Races” (2:16; HD). These are crudely animated recounts of stories from back in the day for instance people who worked with John Lasseter recall his craptacular car where, after the success of Toy Story, Steve Jobs bought him a new car.
Buzz Takes Manhattan (2:12; HD) covers Buzz Lightyear’s debut in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and how awesome John Lasseter and company found it to be. It also shows them blowing up the balloon and how he towers over the street.
Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw (7:36; HD) – Various members from Pixar (John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, etc) recollect their experiences when first coming to Disney and the original story reel for Toy Story and how bad and mean-spirited it was. And finally they show the reel that was shown to Disney execs on their Black Friday (and it is with the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen). And boy oh boy was it awful! I mean, shockingly awful!
Unfortunately, together the new features only comprise of around 25-minutes total and not much of it is substantial in substance.
Also, before I get into the classic features, I thought I should mention there’s a featurette entitled Learn How to Take You Favorite Movies on the Go (1:00) DisneyFile.
Filmmakers Reflect (16:35; SD) – This casual talk between John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and the late Joe Ranft at Pixar’s cafeteria was filmed back in 2004/05 for the 10th Anniversary DVD.
Making Toy Story (20:20; SD) was originally included in the “Ultimate Toy Box” DVD set and I must say, it shows its age; it has that all too recognizable 1990s on-camera interviews. In any case, the filmmakers’ talk about when they fell in love with computer animation that, for one of them, dated back to TRON in 1982.
The Legacy of Toy Story (11:44; SD) was made for the 10th Anniversary DVD and brings together members of the cast (Tom Hanks, Tim Allen), crew/animators and other guests like George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Brad Bird, Leonard Maltin and others. For a retrospective, and one I did watch a few years ago, is really good for those interested in the movie.
Designing Toy Story (6:13; SD) goes through the design process of the movie featuring interviews with the animators and artists who worked on the project. This was included on the 10th Anniversary DVD set.
Deleted Scenes (19:01; SD) are a collection of 10 scenes and introductions by John Lasseter and company explaining why they were removed. None of the scenes are that great, but still fun to see. These were included in the “Ultimate Toy Box” and are presented in letterboxed form.
Design (14:03; SD) includes some galleries of Woody, Buzz, Andy’s Toys, Misc. Toys, Mutant Toys, etc. but nothing really fascinating here, just a bunch of concepts for the various characters set against the movie’s score.
The Story (13:56; SD) section covers a pitch, storyreel and film comparison and has an introduction by Joe Ranft and Andrew Stanton.
In the Production Section we have a Production Tour (1:51: SD), Layout Tricks (3:25), Animation Tour (1:23) and a Multi-Language Reel (4:30: SD), of which were included in the “UTB” and has a Play All option.
Under Music & Sound is the “You’ve Got a Friend” Music Video (2:15; SD), Designing Sound (6:35) featurette and Randy Newman Demos (17:30) with 6 tracks from the film. The multi-language reel is the only thing ported over from the “UTB”.
And last is Publicity where we get Character Interviews (1:29), some Trailers (4:38) and TV Spots (2:08), Posters (0:57) and Toys & Stuff (1:02). Then under Toy Story Treats are 15 more little goodies made as promos for TV I presume. These were available on the “UTB”.
Lastly we get a BD-Live portal that will waste anybody’s time as it takes 5-minutes to even load and a DVD Copy with all these features so your kids can watch the movie on the road or in their room.
Oh, and there are also some sneak peeks at other Disney projects including Toy Story 3.
What’s missing from the “Ultimate Toy Box” (this goes for Toy Story 1 & 2)? Not a whole lot, actually, but the animated short – and inspiration for the movie – Tin Toy, Short Film Luxo Jr., a 5.1 Sound Effects-Only Track, Production Notes and I think Cast Notes. There might be a couple more, but I think that about does it.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Toy Story arrives in 3D on Blu-ray presented in 1.78:1 on a 50GB Disc. Considering the age of the film (well over 15 years now), I’m shocked to see just how great this looks when converted to 3D. The 2D Blu-ray boasts some amazing picture quality with gorgeous colors and detailed characters, but the 3D ups that by giving them another dimension to shine in. While I’m not a fan of those conversion films, animated films tend to fare better than live action.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
Meanwhile, the Blu-ray also boasts a robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. What I liked about this track is it isn’t overpowering but just right spreading out the audio from the center and front speakers to the rear channels as well as the sub woofer. First, the dialogue levels are clear, Randy Newman’s great score and songs come through every channel with depth and any ambient noises (like Sid’s evil laughter) makes use of the side channels.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
If for some reason you haven’t seen Toy Story or you haven’t seen it in years, there’s no better time to see it again, now in Blu-ray high-def with some decent extras to keep you occupied, plus both the audio and video are top notch and well worth the upgrade. With regards to the 3D Blu-ray, it was surprising to see something that was post converted to 3D looked so good. If you don’t already own the original release, this is a good buy, otherwise wait for a sale.
Brian Oliver / Brad Lowenberg