To raise awareness of what was then the forthcoming theatrical release of Toy Story 3, Disney-Pixar went back to the original renderman source files to not only re-render the film for higher resolutions, but to create a stereoscopic 3D version of the film (and its sequel) for a theatrical re-release in January 2010. Disney have been one of the biggest proponents of 3D Blu-ray releases; this year alone they've released Tangled, Tron: Legacy, The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beauty and the Beast on the format, and now they are releasing another three - collectively known as the Toy Story Trilogy.
The premise of Toy Story is that in the presence of humans, toys are the inanimate objects that we know of, but once left alone they spring to life in a world of their own. When Andy, the child protagonist, receives a coveted Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) space hero figurine for his birthday, he is quickly favoured over the other toys, led by wild west character Woody (Tom Hanks). But when the toys are separated from their home, the two toys are forced to band together to make it back safe.
Through the eyes of a ten year old, Toy Story is a portal to a world that is a clear extension of a child's imagination. As I've grown older and more cynical, I've also become more appreciative of the art and production of the film. As the world's first feature length animated film, it was no mean feat to undertake this level of production in the early 1990's. My mind boggles when I imagine the technological barriers they had to cross, using such ancient hardware and software solutions.
Just like classic Disney films such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, no matter how much technology progresses, Toy Story will always be a classic for the ages. I look forward to a time when I can share it with my own children.
Toy Story 3D is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MVC compression.
Upon release in 1995, technical limitations meant that Pixar rendered the films master files at just 720p, fine enough for theatrical presentation and laserdisc and DVD releases, but now Pixar have gone back to the original source files, re-rendering out 2k masters suitable for the 3D theatrical re-release and from this, 1080p transfers also struck for Blu-ray release.
Used for many years as a DVD demonstration in consumer electronics stores everywhere, Toy Story has never shined like it now does. The comparatively simple CG animation, which suited the design of the film, translates well. Whilst character models are fairly low tech by today's standards, the high definition transfer frees the image from macro blocking around edges and the heightened colour spectrum allows the bright blocks of solid colour to be free from colour variation.
Although there are very few in-your-face 3D effects, there is some very subtle but noticeable attention paid to crafting a convincing 3D depth. Whilst the animation is far more rudimentary than its sequels, this doesn't generally hamper the 3D effect. Besides, the alternative of adding effects to the film would have been far more objectionable. For 3DTV owners eager for some new 3D content, they'd be best advised to eBay their previous Blu-ray and DVD releases and upgrade to this.
Overall, a pretty spectacular effort and testament to the love and care that Pixar and Disney have for their first child.
The main audio track is encoded in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits.
Toy Story has always featured a pretty good audio track, although it came from a time when Disney was a bit more conservative with audio mixing than they are now. Despite this, a bit of massaging was performed for the initial DVD release and this audio track is now presented with lossless audio. It's a fairly lively affair, with some good use of the surrounds. Audio sync is pretty accurate for an animated film. Bass usage is a little light on, but generally pops up when required, notably the climactic fireworks.
I'll admit I've never been a fan of the soundtrack by Randy Newman. His nasally tone just flat out annoys me. If anything, though, its sound is distinctly 'Toy Story'.
Overall, a pretty appropriate and impressive audio mix. This is likely the best that Toy Story will ever sound.
Whilst the 3D movie takes up the entire disc by itself, Disney have included the previous Blu-ray release housing all the extra features, but have jettisoned the DVD from the previous release - no big deal at all. Unfortunately, the extra features produced for the 2000 'Ultimate Toy Box' DVD edition are still missing in action.
First up is the Audio Commentary. This assembled track features many important players from the original Pixar days. As always, the Pixar team speaks very enthusiastically about their work, but most of the time it's always relevant and justified.
A few new Featurettes are provided, all presented in high definition. The Toy Story you Never Saw discusses some changes made to characters during the production, and thankfully so. Woody comes off as a jerk of a character, Paths to Pixar details the recruitment drive for the fledging studio, Studio Stories animates a few short stories by Pixar crew members that are seemingly never going to be made into longer stories. Buzz Takes Manhattan talks of Buzz Lightyear's inflated cameo at the annual Macy's Parade. Finally, Toy Story 3 Sneak Peak: The Story is the requisite plug for the forthcoming sequel.
Hidden away under the DVD archive menu option are all of the original features from the 10th Anniversary DVD.
Most of these features take the form of Featurettes; under the headings of 'Design', 'Story', 'Production', 'Music and Sound' and 'Publicity'. Of these, the most notable is the design segment, which shows concept art and ideas for the film that were ultimately jettisoned. Like the Ralph McQuarrie concept artwork for Star Wars with an evil looking Chewbacca, it's always interesting yet also horrifying to see ideas that clash with the status quo and how it almost was. I'm not a massive fan of the Music and Sound section due to the abundance of my not so favourite musician Randy Newman.
The publicity section features an absolute abundance of trailers and slightly varying TV spots. Making Toy Story is the closest we get to a well rounded making of featurette for the film, even though other documentaries such as the The Pixar Story (included on the Ultimate Pixar Collection Blu-ray does it far better. The Legacy of Toy Story waxes lyrical on how the film changed the landscape of animation forever.
The Deleted Scenes archive brings together a few abandoned or altered sequences which were probably necessary to whittle the film down to its short running time, reflecting needs of the time that dictated that children's film needed to be short (the last Harry Potter film was over twice the length of Toy Story).
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