Blu-ray
Must Own
5 stars
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$28.00
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Overall Grade
5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
4 Stars
High-Def Extras
4 Stars
Bottom Line
Must Own

Toy Story 2: Special Edition

Street Date:
March 23rd, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
March 23rd, 2010
Movie Release Year:
1999
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
92 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Sequels can be scary. The chance of failure is all too real. You may end up taking something people loved and creating a sub-par follow-up, which in turn kills much of the sentiment for the first film that worked so well. So many traps lie in wait for sequels. From introducing too many new characters, to ignoring the ones we've come to love. Will the same humor get recycled? Will the same idea work again, or has it become old news? These are the hazards the Pixar team faced when they embarked on 'Toy Story 2.'

After 'A Bugs Life' was received rather lukewarmly at the box office, Pixar was under pressure to make their next movie a hit. With early test scenes for a direct-to-video follow-up to 'Toy Story' turning out so well, plans were quickly hammered to rework the film for theatrical release. For many fans, revisiting the toy chest so soon seemed like a risky gamble, but to our surprise, it wasn't at all.

As the film opens, Woody is faced with the inevitable fact that Andy will one day grow up and outgrow playing with toys. Should Woody sacrifice the few remaining years of playing with Andy, for a lifetime spent looking out through through protective glass in a museum for collectible toys (It seems Buzz wasn't the only one with a highly popular TV show and action figure tie-ins.)? This is a legitimate concern for a toy. We feel for Woody.

This is the first time real, true drama and sadness is injected into a Pixar film, paving the way for the emotional openings of 'Up' and 'Wall•E.' 'Toy Story 2' set the bar high, not only on a technical level for a CG cartoon, but on an emotional plane that could affect both parents and children.

We knew that 'Toy Story 2' was going to introduce some new characters. It's standard operating procedure for sequels to do so, but nstead of throwing in a few new characters just for additional merchandising opportunities, the new characters of Jessie, Stinky Pete, and Bullseye have a lot of thought put into them without sacrificing sufficient screen time from the characters we had come to know and love.

Storytelling isn't the only area in which 'Toy Story 2' excelled. It had already been four years since the release of 'Toy Story,' yet Pixar's animation techniques already showed improvement by leaps and bounds. As I said in my review of the original film, some of the animation in 'Toy Story' isn't aging well. In particular, Sid's dog looks especially bad compared to the dogs in 'Up,' but that's okay, they were still working to perfect their craft. Here we can see the evolution that Pixar was going through. Andy's new dog looks much better than Scud, and the human faces are beginning to take on a more lifelike appearance.

'Toy Story 2' solidified Pixar's place in cinematic history as a viable enterprise, an animation juggernaut, and a movie company that valued story and character above all else. This film is every bit as timeless and as classic as 'Toy Story.'

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Featuring updated techniques, 'Toy Story 2' is a demo material, just like 'Toy Story,' but with the added value of slightly better animation. Like 'Toy Story's video presentation, the colors pop right off the screen. Primaries are bright and vibrant. The greens of Buzz's suit and Rex's body, reds of Jessie's hat and hair, the blues of the sky and Woody's pants are all perfectly rendered and exciting to look at. Edges are exact, and fine detail is crystal clear. From the texture of Al's cheeto dust-covered fingers, to the intricate stitching of Woody's vest, no detail is too fine. Care is taken to make the toys look worn and played with. Smudges of dirt and streaks of black occasionally speckle each character with a sort of chaotic precision. There are no blemishes or artifacts to speak of. This is a perfect video presentation, plain and simple. Demo, demo, demo!

The Audio: Rating the Sound

If it's possible, this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 accompanying 'Toy Story 2' is even more of a sonic delight than that on the 'Toy Story' Blu-ray. The LFE kicks right in during the prologue as Buzz blasts through the air. The rumbling from the subwoofer is perfectly prioritized with the other sound effects and dialogue happening as to never drown those out. Panning effects are smooth and without hesitation. Dialogue is perfectly clear through the center channels. The surround channels are alive with all types of clear, engulfing ambient sounds. When Woody falls through the pile of cards during his dream, the cards click and clack around the room with care. The soundtrack is given ample room to flourish. Suffice to say, this is another demo quality audio presentation from Pixar.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Making Toy Story 2 (SD, 8 minutes): The standard making-of featurette that was ported over from the original DVD. Nothing too fancy here, but there is some great behind-the-scenes footage.
  • John Lasseter Profile (SD, 3 minutes): A brief profile on how Lasseter tries to emulate the imagination and perseverance of Walt Disney in encouraging his team of Pixar artists and writers to continually push themselves to new heights.
  • Cast of Characters (SD, 4 minutes): A quick guide of the 'Toy Story' characters old and new.
  • Toy Box (SD, 14 minutes): Contains quite a few funny little nuggets. "Outtakes" allows you to watch the hilarious staged outtakes that ran during the credits of the film. "Jessie's Gag" is a amusing easter egg from the DVD release. In "Who's the Coolest Toy?" Tom Hanks and Tim Allen argue about whether Woody or Buzz is the coolest toy. Other features here include "Riders in the Sky Music Medley," and "Autographed Pictures.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 4 minutes): Three scenes are included here. They're all unfinished animation. "Deleted Animation Intro," "Crossing the Road," and "Godzilla Rex."
  • Design (SD, 27 minutes): This is the same type of stuff that can be seen in the design portion on the 'Toy Story' Blu-ray, and would have been greatly improved with a high definition upgrade.
  • Production (SD, 14 minutes): "Designing Woody's Past, "Making Woody's Roundup, "Production Tour," "Early Animation Tests," "International Scene," and "Special Effects." "Desiging Woody's Past," and "Making Woody's Roundup" are the two most interesting featurettes included here. They give an idea of the work it took to create a believable past for Woody, which is why the movie works in the first place.
  • Music & Sound (SD, 14 minutes): "Designing Sound," "Making the Songs," "Woody's Roundup Music Video," and "Jessie's Song." Yup, another music video, in case you were worried you might not get one this time around.
  • Publicity (SD, 9 minutes): Another extensive look at the trailers, international posters, and TV spots that were used to promote 'Toy Story 2.'

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Audio Commentary: Director John Lasseter, co-directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon, and co-writer Andrew Stanton give what amounts to a play-by-play commentary, which is one of the most engaging commentaries I've ever listened to. You can tell all these guys not only work together, but hang out together. They are best friends, and the chemistry between them shows.
  • Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Characters (HD, 4 minutes): This little featurette gives us a sneak peek at the new characters we can expect to see in 'Toy Story 3.'
  • Studio Stories (HD, 6 minutes): These are fast becoming some of my favorite special features. Included and animated by the Pixar group are retellings of stories, which happened during the filming of the movie. "TS2 Sleep Deprivation Lab," talks about how the movie had to be made in 7 – 8 months instead of the four year process that normally happened. No one slept, they worked 60 hour weeks, and they felt the movie was better because of it. "Pinocchio," involves some of the Pixar animators when they were in their old building. They could throw stuff up and it would stick in the ceiling. After getting a few 'Toy Story' characters stuck up there they tried a Pinocchio doll. "The Movie Vanishes," is the scary story of how 'Toy Story 2' was almost completely erased from Pixar's computers!
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: International Space Station (HD, 4 minutes): Episode two continues on where the 'Mission Logs' feature left off on the 'Toy Story' Blu-ray. Here Buzz talks more about how the Space Station was built. This is a very fun, and surprisingly informative feature about space travel and living.
  • Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists (HD, 4 minutes): More stories about how some of the staff at Pixar came to be at Pixar. At times you just want to say "Yeah, we all know you have an amazing job. Stop rubbing it in our faces."
  • Pixar's Zoetrope (HD, 2 minutes): If you haven't seen the zoetrope at Disney's California Adventure, you've got to find a time to go see it. I just got back from a Disneyland trip a couple days ago, and it doesn't matter how many times I see the zoetrope, it never ceases to completely amaze me. This is a brief synopsis on what a zoetrope is and how it shows the basic fundamentals of animation.
  • Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft (HD, 13 minutes): A tribute to Joe Ranft, who was with Pixar from the very beginning. Joe worked on the storyboards and stories for many of their films, including 'Toy Story,' 'A Bug's Life,' and 'Cars,' and acted as the voices of Lenny the Binoculars, Jacques the Shrimp ('Finding Nemo'), Heimlich, and 'Toy Story 2's Wheezy the Penguin. Joe passed away in a car accident in the summer of 2005, and from this emotional tribute, in which Lasseter and company get choked up just thinking about him, it's clear what a big part Ranft played in the history of 'Toy Story' and Pixar itself.

Final Thoughts

'Toy Story 2' represented a pivotal turning point for Pixar. We all know how successfully it turned out. This is a must own movie, one that we highly recommend adding to your Blu-ray collection, along with the first 'Toy Story.' Together they comprise a dynamic duo of computer animated demo material, one that will delight you and your guests for years to come. 1080p is truly the home for material like the 'Toy Story' franchise.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD/DVD Combo

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p / AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 French
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish

Subtitles/Captions

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

Supplements

  • Making Toy Story 2
  • John Lasseter Profile
  • Cast of Characters
  • Toy Box
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Design
  • Production
  • Music & Sound
  • Publicity

Exclusive HD Content

  • Audio Commentary
  • Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek: The Characters
  • Studio Stories
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: International Space Station
  • Paths to Pixar: Technical Artists
  • Pixar's Zoetrope
  • Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft

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