What 'Snow White' did for hand drawn animation, 'Toy Story' did for CG animation. The first computer generated feature-length animated film was a success. Not only in its astoundingly colorful and fully rendered graphics, the likes of which we had never seen, but in its story, and lovable characters. The fact that 'Toy Story' has a great story, and wonderful character development makes it a great movie, but factoring in the historical cinematic significance of the film makes it a classic.
The story of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy's toys really captured the imagination. It was something so original and so well put together it was bound to echo throughout the annals of cinematic history. Why was the movie so magical? Besides the beautiful animation created by the budding young group of Pixar animators, the filmmakers created characters we absolutely adore. Pixar has shown time and time again its ability to create lovable, quirky characters who keep us entertained and caring about what happens to them. Even though Woody means to push Buzz out the window, we feel for him because of the position he's in, but we also feel for Buzz who is the new guy. Neither of them is the bad guy, but Pixar was able to take these simple characters and give them a character depth that took everyone by surprise.
Even before 'Toy Story' came out, many parents had relegated themselves to using cartoons as electronic babysitters. With the occasional Don Bluth or Disney film, cartoons were solely used to placate the young ones. 'Toy Story' ushered in an era of cartoons that could be loved by adults just as much as kids. While the slapstick stuff appealed to the children, the clever pop culture references and well-written jokes gave the parents something to enjoy as well. Many modern CG pictures have taken this idea and profited handsomely. 'Shrek' and 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' both have more in the way of adult humor than kid humor. Not only do we owe thanks to 'Toy Story' for supplying the world with a new, viable animation medium, but we also owe thanks to Buzz and company for showing us that parents and their children can enjoy the same films together, for completely different reasons.
'Toy Story' is a monumental achievement in cinema. Calling it the 'Snow White' of CG animation isn't that far off. It paved the way for every CG feature we see today, just as 'Snow White' blazed a trail for hand drawn animation. What once was technology only used for short films, has become a workable medium, which draws huge amounts of box office dollars every year. What more doyou need to hear about 'Toy Story?' It has a 100 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com for heaven's sake. It's a classic and should be treated as such. Fortunately, this Blu-ray does...
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 3D edition of 'Toy Story' comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray case sheathed in a 3D sleeve that mirrors the original cover art. The 3D Blu-ray, original Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy disc are all housed inside. Video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, and the default audio is English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. There's also a Descriptive Video Service track for the visually impaired. Upon insertion of the 3D disc, previews for Disney's 'Planes' and Pixar's 'Brave' play automatically before the full motion menu with music pops up.
'Toy Story' looks grand in 3D, but because it was not originally produced for the format, it lacks the pop and in-your-face immediacy of 3D films such as 'Tangled.' Yet even though the picture looks a bit flat, the 3D version of 'Toy Story' sports a higher degree of depth and dimensionality than its original counterpart. Instead of elements projecting toward us (and don't get me wrong, there's definitely some of that here), the joy of this transfer is looking deeper into the screen. Shots through windows and over railings are especially effective, opening up the characters' world and allowing us to feel more involved in it.
Some moments work especially well in 3D, such as Woody sliding down the bannister, the army men parachuting into Andy's birthday party, the raindrops on Sid's window, and any items falling through the air. But on the whole, the 3D effects are more subtle than some might like, merely lending the movie a more intimate feel rather than making it protrude into our living rooms.
The source material is, of course, spotless, just like it is on the original Blu-ray, and colors explode with variance and vibrancy. Detail is superb, with the scales on Rex and texture of Mr. Potato Head's skin exceptionally well rendered. Contrast is spot on, and close-ups are razor sharp. It's hard to believe 'Toy Story' is 16 years old, and though this transfer is very, very good, I did notice in this 3D version some jagged lines, a smattering of digital noise, and just a tad bit of fuzziness here and there. These issues, though, are so minor, they shouldn't keep anyone interested in upgrading from purchasing this disc.
One of the greatest things about computer animation in general and Pixar films in particular is the higher degree of dimensionality they provide, even without 3D enhancement. 'Toy Story' gets a boost from this 3D makeover, but it's far from a night-and-day difference.
The astounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that's included on the 3D edition of 'Toy Story' is the same one that accompanied the original Blu-ray, and features surrounds that are alive with action. From Andy's birthday party to the chaos at Pizza Planet, the surrounds are constantly pumping in ambient noise to keep you fully immersed in what's happening on screen. LFE is cranked up, and when called upon, creates a sense of wonder and dread. When the rocket is lit, and takes off after the moving van, the bass rumbles the room. Dialogue is perfectly prioritized, and intelligible. The soundtrack never drowns out the voices of the characters. The sound design in top-notch and this Blu-ray is the perfect way to show off what it can do.
All of the features from the DVD release of the movie can found on the standard Blu-ray disc and are presented in standard definition. There is also a wealth of supplements exclusive to the Blu-ray; they are described in the HD Bonus Content section below.
'Toy Story' in 3D isn't the jaw-dropping upgrade for which many might have hoped, but this first chapter in the trilogy will certainly please those who have embraced the format. The wow factor is only sporadic, but the movie does enjoy a more dimensional feel (as it should), opening up the story to a greater degree and making the characters more immediate. The 3D rendering also seems to magnify some of the transfer's minor flaws and age-related issues, but not enough to steer anyone away from this version. 3D mavens shouldn't hesitate to pick this up; just keep your expectations in check.