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Blu-ray Review: Toy Story 2
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toy story 2Toy Story 2
Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Directed by John Lasseter
Starring Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 23, 2010

Toy Story 2 had a lot to live up to. The original Toy Story was an instant hit both critically and commercially. It’s success started PIxar down the path of awesomeness that would eventually lead to nine other formidable films that I still cherish. So the question is, how would they follow up such a massive hit? With more of the same, as it turns out.

Where the first film focused on Buzz Lightyear more and was really his story, the sequel gives a similar treatment for our favorite cowboy, Woody. Woody’s friend and owner Andy heads off to cowboy camp leaving his toys to their own devices. Things shift into high gear when an obsessive toy collector named Al McWhiggin (owner of Al’s Toy Barn) kidnaps Woody. At Al’s apartment, Woody discovers that he is a highly valued collectible from a 1950s TV show called Woody’s Roundup, and he meets the other prized toys from that show, Jessie the Cowgirl, Bullseye the Horse, and Stinky Pete the Prospector. Back at the scene of the crime, Buzz Lightyear and the other toys from Andy’s room — Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex, and Hamm — spring into action to rescue their pal from winding up as a museum piece. The toys get into one predicament after another in their daring race to get Woody before Andy returns.

What Pixar is able to do so well (and one of the many reasons why I love them) is that they’re able to have technical innovation, but at the same time never forget that everything comes down to story and characters. This is something that worked so well for Walt Disney and the traditional hand-drawn animated films of so many years ago. The idea that Woody is a collectible toy and worth something to collector is a really cool one and I love the execution in the film.

Many people consider Toy Story 2 better than the original. I’m a little mixed on the topic. On one hand, Pixar was able to make Toy Story 2 look a lot better due to four years of technological improvements as well as four years of experience making computer-animated films. On the other hand, I like the story more in the first film as well as that special feeling of being introduced to the characters for the first time. That being said, Toy Story 2 is still a wonderful film that looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray.

As I said earlier, the sequel is more of the same Toy Story goodness that audiences fell in love with during the first film. Composer Randy Newman returns for another great score/soundtrack. Most of the original voice cast returns for the sequel but the newcomers really added another level. Kelsey Grammer, Wayne Knight, Joan Cusack, and the hilarious Estelle Harris all do a spectacular job at bringing these new characters to life and you quickly fall in love with each of them.

The movie has a bit of everything: great music, great comedy, superb voice acting, endearing characters, intense action, and a top notch story. Toy Story 2 is a fantastic movie and an amazing Blu-ray definitely worth adding to your collection.

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 combination 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 Characters (4:01 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Lee Unkrich, director of the upcoming sequel discusses the film’s characters both old and new and shows mostly the same scenes you’ve seen in the trailer (also included on this release under “Previews”). This goes along with the feature on the first Toy Story Blu-ray (Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Story).

Audio Commentary with co-writer/director John Lasseter, Co-directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon, and Co-Writer Andrew Stanton:
Interesting commentary that gives some nice insights into the making of the film as well as pointing out the famous Pixar easter eggs that are in every film.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (3:43 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Episode 2 – International Space Station. Fun and informative look at life aboard the International Space Station.

Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists (4:24 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. This takes a look at some of the artists that have been with the company for awhile with them discussing how they got there.

Studio Stories:
I loved these little stories of the early days of Pixar, set to some simply but fun 2D animation.

– Toy Story 2 Sleep Deprivation Lab (1:25 – HD)

– Pinocchio (2:15 – HD)

– The Movie Vanishes (2:32 – HD)

Pixar’s Zoetrope (1:58 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. An awesome look at how animation works demonstrated by a zoetrope. This is absolutely amazing and a MUST-SEE featurette.

Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft (12:46 – HD):
New and exclusive to this “Special Edition” release. Tribute to the late Pixar animator. Any fan of Pixar will want to watch this.

Classic DVD Bonus Features:

These were all previously released on the DVD release(s).

Making Toy Story 2 (8:10 – SD):
Basic “making of” featurette.

John Lasseter Profile (3:02 – SD):
A look at the director and co-writer of the film.

Cast of Characters (3:28 – SD):

Toy Box
Five featurettes:

– Outtakes (5:27 – SD)

– Jesse’s Gag (1:00 – SD)

– Who’s the Coolest Toy? (3:19 – SD)

– Riders in the Sky Music Medley (3:11 – SD)

– Autographed Pictures (0:45 – SD)

Deleted Scenes (4:11 – SD)

Design Galleries:
– Design (16:43 – SD)

– Production (13:41 – SD)

– Music & Sound (14:08 – SD)

– Publicity (8:32 – SD)

As with the first film, Toy Story 2 has a nice mixture of old and new special features. Collectors will want to keep their previous releases though, as this new Blu-ray does not include all the features from previous iterations.

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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