They’re back! Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios present the critically-acclaimed, global box office smash Toy Story 3, an exciting, heart-warming story filled with humor, adventure and surprises, that reunites America’s favorite animated toys, Buzz and Woody, and introduces a whole new set of favorites to audiences around the globe. The world’s #1 animated film in box office history and The Walt Disney Company’s second biggest film of all time, Toy Story 3 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD November 2 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Toy Story 3 welcomes Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), Buzz (voice of Tim Allen) and the whole gang back as Andy prepares to depart for college and his loyal toys find themselves in… day care! These untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice, so it’s all for one and one for all as plans for the great escape get underway. More than a few new faces—some plastic, some plush—join the adventure, including iconic swinging bachelor and Barbie’s counterpart Ken (voice of Michael Keaton), a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants (voice of Timothy Dalton) and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (voice of Ned Beatty). Directed by Lee Unkrich (co-director of Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo), produced by Pixar veteran Darla K. Anderson (Cars, Monsters, Inc.) and written by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), Toy Story 3 is a comical new adventure!
The very idea of producing the third film in a trilogy over ten years after the second film was produced just seems…risky. I can remember the rumor mill buzzing after Toy Story 2 came out that a third film would be a direct-to-video feature or that it would be turned into a TV series. Obviously neither happened and the series itself seemed to be done for with the first two (brilliant) entries. The films not only defined what Pixar was at the time but also helped them push ahead and create a ton of other films that eventually would move us and make us laugh as much as the Toy Story series did. I, as well as many others, were perfectly content with never getting another Toy Story film simply because we didn’t want the legacy ruined. Not that I didn’t have faith in Pixar, but really where else was the story of Andy and his toys going to go? But after years of asking themselves that the folks at Pixar decided upon an idea that was really quite perfect: the audience of the original Toy Story films have already grown up and gone off to college—why not put Andy in the same position?
Needless to say there are quite a few tearful moments (well, not for me—I came to the theater fully expecting to unleash some water works but instead only got a brief fluid wash for my contacts) to be had in the film stemming from Andy trying to give up his toys (which is done through a rather tearful montage of his childhood moments with them—which in turn triggered my own childhood memories…but mine were all filled with 95% Batman toys, so there wasn’t a whole lot there to reminiscent about.
In any case Toy Story 3 was pretty much everything one could hope for from another entry in the series. It has a core focus of Andy once again but we get taken even further out of our comfort zone than a toy store or toy collector as with the second film. This time the toys are first tossed into a day care facility (which bodes well at first and then turns into a nightmare) and then go on a really freaky journey through a trash compactor/garbage dump thing. Needless to say after seeing this film I in no way want to own a bear that smells like strawberries (and they actually made one too—what child would want that? That bear was freaky…). At the same time you feel sorry for the villain in the film, but in the end he gets his ultimate reward.
Really the only thing about viewing this film in theaters that was a let down was the 3-D “experience,” which rarely, if ever, amounted to anything. Viewing the film again on Blu-ray really just made for the same type of experience for me, so the loss of 3-D was no major thing. Plus Blu-ray just looks so awesome (more on that in a bit) that I found myself slack jawed staring at the screen for the vast majority of its runtime.
Overall Toy Story 3 is, without much surprise, a Must See film. Regardless of your age (unless you’re my Dad who never really liked any of the Pixar films) this is an absolute delight to watch. Plenty of thrills, chills, and spills (tears) to go around with this one. It may not be quite as tear-jerking as Wall-E or Up, but Toy Story 3 holds its own against the two original installments and makes for a more than enjoyable third in the line. Plus, Spanish Buzz was just fantastic.
Disney really likes to release a variety of editions for their films and Toy Story 3 is no different. A four-disc Blu-ray set (two Blu’s, one DVD, one Digital Copy) as well as a two-disc Blu-ray (just the Blu’s) and a one disc DVD release will all be available on shelves simultaneously. The obvious choice for most readers of this website will be the four-disc edition, not only because it’s the “ultimate” one but also because it gives you essentially three copies of the film to play around with. One for the home theater, one for the children’s bed rooms and one for the iPod/iPad/iWhatever that the little rug rats may be using. The packaging is the usual combination of Elite Blu and embossed slipcase, depending on the variety you end up with.
Video is an AVC encoded 1080p transfer and…yup, another home run in the visuals and clarity department. I popped this disc in expecting something spectacular and that’s what immediately came on my screen with pure digital clarity. The added perk of being the third in the series a decade later is that the animation has obviously progressed to a very realistic point. While the visuals were still kept more on the cartoonish side, the detail exhibited was on par with other Pixar efforts. I’m referring to animal stuffing, the “fur” on Lotso’s body and even the stitching on Woody and Jessie. It’s all of a much higher quality, all the while not really alienating the viewer if they jump from the second film to the third one immediately. As with the first film there’s a definite boost in quality, but not one that’s all that jarring. Plus it’s all digital and watching it on Blu-ray is just a real eye-popper when it comes to the wild and varied color palette that it exhibits.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix and it reminds me why I invested in that extra 2.0 for my system. Very rarely do I ever come across a film that actually has a 7.1 mix and it’s even rarer I’m even able to distinguish between that and a 5.1 mix. Thankfully Disney has once again outdone themselves with the audio, bringing to life every creek and stuffed toy squeak with not only supreme clarity but also very well done surround and LFE output as well. It’s definitely a film that should be viewed with the full surround system as there are plenty of moments that bring a smile to your face simply because of how truly nice it all looks and sounds.
• Day & Night – The innovative and entertaining short from the imagination of Pixar artist and Director Teddy Newton.
• Toys! – A closer look at all of Toy Story 3’s beloved toys from updating the classic characters to the creation of the Sunnyside Daycare and Bonnie’s Room toys.
• Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure – Produced in conjunction with NASA, this hybrid animation documentary of Buzz’s visit to the International Space Station focuses on research in zero gravity and Buzz’s triumphant return to Earth.
• Paths to Pixar: Editorial – Pixar editors, past and future share anecdotes about their careers.
• The Gang’s All Here – A touching look at the returning voice talent for Toy Story 3 and an introduction to the voices of the new characters.
• A Toy’s Eye View: Creating A Whole New Land – A sneak peek at the new Toy Story-themed playland at Hong Kong Disneyland.
• Studio Stories – A series of amusing animated anecdotes about life at Pixar.
“Where’s Gordon?” – An animator finds a hidden room at Pixar.
“Cereal Bar” – The majestic and expansive Pixar cereal bar is explored.
“Clean Start” – The Toy Story 3 animators shave their heads to mark the start of the film.
• Toy Story Trivia Dash – This cool game challenges you to sprint to the finish with Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Rex as you quickly answer questions about all three Toy Story movies.
• Cine-Explore – Commentary by Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla K. Anderson.
• Beyond the Toybox: An Alternative Commentary Track Featuring Leads from Story, Tech, Art and Animation – Commentary by Story Supervisor Jason Katz, Supervising Technical Director Guido Quaroni, Production Designer Bob Pauley and Supervising Animators Bobby Podesta and Michael Venturini.
• Beginnings: Setting A Story In Motion – Screenwriter Michael Arndt analyzes successful opening scenes from Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
• Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable – A roundtable discussion with Director Lee Unkrich and the story artists who brought the “Bonnie’s Playtime” scene to life.
• Roundin’ Up A Western Opening – The development of the movie’s exciting opening scene.
• Life Of A Shot – Toy Story 3 artists and technicians describe their contributions to a few of the shots in the film’s “Western Opening.”
• Goodbye Andy – An exploration of character design, acting and animation in the scene “Andy’s Goodbye.”
• Accidental Toymakers – By creating the Toy Story characters, the Pixar filmmakers found themselves in the unlikely role of toy designers. Meet the toy company that took a chance on manufacturing the now iconic toys and learn of their incredible success that began with a modest number of Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys 15 years ago.
• Making of Day & Night – The story behind the unique 2D/3D blended short.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a two-disc Blu-ray set after all (or more, depending on the version you go with, but the extras remain the same) so the extras list is, of course, very expansive. There’s really no rock left unturned with all of these extras and the great thing is they’re all very much worth watching. There wasn’t a single featurette that I didn’t enjoy looking at (the “Accidental Toymakers” one is especially interesting as I used to be way into collecting toys [past the usual age, anyway] and often wondered how the filmmakers worked with the actual toy companies to make these things) and paired with dual commentary tracks, it’s really probably as exhaustive of a set as any.
Here’s to hoping that Pixar has the guts to make sequels to some of their other franchises in the future, as this Toy Story trilogy is truly just impeccable. Actually I really only want a sequel to The Incredibles, but I’ll take whatever Pixar film I can get truthfully.
As you probably expected this is a Must Own film on Blu-ray, both for the A/V presentation as well as the cornucopia of extras.
Toy Story 3 arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd.