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Blu-ray Review: Toy Story
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Toy Story blu-rayToy Story
Two Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Directed by John Lasseter
Starring Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 23, 2010

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge Pixar fanatic, drooling over their annual releases at my local cinema like a kid in a candy shop. They continually amaze me with their ability to put out what I think are the best films released every year. For this reason, Toy Story holds a special place in my Pixar-loving heart as ‘the one that started it all.’

The film is significant for a couple reasons. It was the first full-length CGI feature (breaking new ground for the quality of computer-generated animation in general). It was also the movie that all other Pixar releases built upon and without the success of the first Toy Story, things might have gone very different for Pixar and the full-length CG animated films we see today that are so abundant. On a sadder note, you can probably trace the death of 2D hand-drawn animation back to the success of Toy Story.

The film astounds on a number of levels. It astounds on a technical level — the movie occupied the attention of a bank of 300 powerful Sun microprocessors, the fastest models around (in 1995), which took about 800,000 hours of computing time to achieve this and other scenes — at 2 to 15 hours per frame. Each frame required as much as 300 MBs of information! To put you in the mindset of early to mid 90’s computing, this was a time of one-gigabyte hard drives, which would give you about three frames, or an eighth of a second of screen time.

The film astounds on a screen writing/story level — I think a large part of Toy Story’s initial success was the novelty of the 3D animation but once that wears off you’re left with a great story and great characters. This became the hallmark of Pixar and the reason I love them to this day. Everything starts with the story and grows organically from there. The story, along with the great performances by the voice cast who really make the characters come alive, is the reason the film holds up for me.

Randy Newman’s score and soundtrack also astounds, giving the film an added layer that can be enjoyed on its own or in the film itself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the film is perfect. The human characters are really wooden looking and don’t move very well either, demonstrating the real challenge of creating believable human characters. The CGI overall is also less fluid and not as detailed as more recent Pixar releases but that’s to be expected as the technology improves.

Nitpicks aside, the film still holds up and makes an excellent addition to anyone’s film library. The Blu-ray picture and sound are pristine and probably surpass the film’s initial theatrical run in 1995.

Bonus Features

BD-Live is included on this Disney Blu-ray Disc release which requires the user to be on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc Player with some form of internet connectivity to access online content from the studio and online features such as chat and so forth. It’s similar to previous BD-Live efforts from Disney.

A DVD of the film is also included in this combo Blu-ray + DVD release. This includes Standard Definition video and a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX sound mix as well as most of the same bonus materials.

Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Story (2:02 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Director of the upcoming sequel discussing the film’s story and shows mostly the same scenes you’ve seen in the trailer (also included on this release under “Previews”). It’s amazing to see how far the CGI has progressed, especially on the human characters. They’ve got a level of detail that just wasn’t possible in 1995.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (3:27 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Fun and informative look at real astronauts taking a toy figurine of Buzz Lightyear up into outer space with them.

Paths to Pixar – Artists (4:49 – HD):
Takes a look at some of the artists that have been with the company for quite some time and discussing how they got into what they do today.

Studio Stories:
I loved these little stories of the early days of Pixar, set to some simply but fun 2D animation.
– Studio Stories: John Lasseter’s Car (1:27 – HD)

– Studio Stories: Baby AJ (1:38 – HD)

– Studio Stories: Scooter Races (2:16 – HD)

Buzz Takes Manhattan (2:13 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Short feature on the Buzz Lightyear balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which John Lasseter himself helped pull.

Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw (7:34 – HD):
A look at the real process that went in to Pixar actually getting the film pitched and made the way they wanted, regardless of what Disney wanted. Mainly it focuses on the problems along the way, hence the title “Black Friday” for the featurette — plus it refers to the Friday screening of the early version of the film that went badly. This is very interesting and well worth a watch.

Audio Commentary with Director John Lassetter, Co-writer Andrew Stanton and others
The same one as the 10th Anniversary DVD, which came originally from the 1996 Laserdisc edition!

Filmmakers Reflect (16:35 – SD):
Previously available and ported over from the DVD release(s). Recorded for the 10th anniversary.

Making Toy Story (20:17 – SD):
Previously available “making of” featurette ported over from the DVD release(s).

The Legacy of Toy Story (11:41 – SD):
Previously available and ported over from the DVD release(s). This includes interviews with the cast (namely Tom Hanks & Tim Allen) as well as the crew and other great filmmakers such as George Lucas, Peter Jackson and even Disney historian/film critic Leonard Maltin.

Designing Toy Story (6:12 – SD):
Previously available and ported over from the DVD release(s).

Deleted Scenes (18:50 – SD) :
Previously available and ported over from the DVD release(s). This includes an introduction by Lee Unkrich who served as Editor on the film and now is the director of the latest sequel. He explains why these scenes were deleted.

Design Galleries:
Previously available and ported over from the DVD release(s).
– Design (14:03 – SD)

– Story (13:56 – SD)

– Production (13:41 – SD)

– Music & Sound

– Publicity (10:14 – SD)

Overall, the bonus materials are pretty good. There’s a bit of old with a bit of new. Four new exclusive featurettes and a majority of all the bonus materials found on the previously released DVDs of the film over the past years. It should be noted some of the bonus materials found on those previous DVD releases are not here so all you completists out there are going to want to hang on to your old editions.

Special Offers
For a limited time, Amazon is offering an additional $10 discount if you buy both Toy Story Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ DVD Packaging) and Toy Story 2 Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo w/ DVD Packaging) on Blu-ray at the same time ($35.98 total with free shipping for both films on Blu-ray Disc). Total is reflected in your shopping cart at checkout. See the “Best Value” area on the product page.

You’ll also get up to $8.50 in Movie Cash toward seeing Toy Story 3 in theaters for each disc you buy (Movie Cash code is inside the disc packaging).

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