Up until now, aside from 'Toy Story 2,' Pixar had stayed away from sequels. This was an even more amazing feat when you realize every one of their movies, from 'Monsters Inc.' to 'The Incredibles' could have spawned a franchise, with numerous sequels generating endless box office and merchandising dollars. Still, Pixar decided to go with original story after original story, giving us movies populated with lovable characters and overwhelming heart. So naturally, when I head that Pixar would be doing another 'Toy Story' movie, I became very apprehensive. Pixar has built itself up into the most famous and recognizable production house in the US. Like Roger Ebert said, they're the only movie studio that also has celebrity status. They've spoiled us for years with their amazing, heartfelt storytelling. Hearing they were now returning to the 'Toy Story' franchise was a bit disappointing.
There's always apprehension involved when sequels are concerned. Are the old characters we've grown to love going to be given enough screen time? Are the new characters that will inevitably be introduced going to overshadow everyone else? Will the story seem watered down since we've already been to the well a couple of times before? These are all legitimate fears, but I should have had faith in Pixar. They know what they're doing.
Andy is heading off to college, and Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang face the very real possibility of being neglected for the rest of their lives. When Andy's mother tells him to gather up his stuff and either put it in the attic for storage or in garbage bags for the dump, the gang prepare to take up residence in the attic. They all know one thing for certain, they don't want to end up as trash. Of course, after a little mix up, the bag of toys is mistaken for garbage. After escaping the garbage truck, the toys think they'll be better off donating themselves to a nearby daycare where kids will play with them everyday. Woody pleads with them. He tries to tell them that Andy didn't mean to throw them away, it was a mistake, but they don't listen (if I have one gripe about the movie, it's that the not listening to Woody storyline has been played out).
Most of the movie takes place in Sunnyside Daycare, where Andy's toys soon learn it isn't as happy a place as they had thought. After being relegated to the Caterpillar Room, Buzz, Jessie, Bullseye, and the Potato Heads are repeatedly bashed, crushed, and thrown by terrorizing toddlers. This is definitely not what they had in mind.
They meet a whole host of new characters, who are used to perfection here. The worry here is always that the new characters will feel stuck into a movie just to boost merchandise sales. Here the new characters instantly fit into the franchise, especially a suave-acting Ken Doll voiced by Michael Keaton.
Even after all my apprehension and worry, I have to say that I loved 'Toy Story 3.' It carries on the legacy of Pixar and the 'Toy Story' franchise. It's a perfect bookend to one of the best animated series of all-time. The climax alone is more exciting and thrilling than many of the action movies that came out this year.
The end is touching and sweet, harboring that same choked-up emotion that 'Ratatouille' inspired. 'Toy Story 3' has everything you could want from a new 'Toy Story' film. Is it as good as the first and second films? Not quite, but it's still one of Pixar's best.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The 3D edition of 'Toy Story 3' 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 7.1. There's also a Descriptive Video Service track for the visually impaired. Upon insertion of the 3D disc, previews for Pixar's 'Brave' and Disney's 'Planes' play automatically before the full motion menu with music pops up.
'Toy Story 3' was the only installment in the trilogy originally released in a 3D version, and it is also - obviously - the most recent entry in the franchise, so it's not surprising that this transfer outclasses 'Toy Story' and 'Toy Story 2.' From a 3D standpoint, 'Toy Story 3' is still not a theme park-type attraction, filled with projectiles that make you duck, jump, or stir...and that's a good thing! The folks at Pixar have designed this film simply to be more lifelike in 3D, with figures and objects that protrude from the screen just enough to add appropriate dimension and enhanced depth. Look at how Buzz's hand subtly reaches toward us as he extends it to Woody in the incinerator, or notice the marvelous depth as Woody peers out of the carton as Andy prepares to leave home. This 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 effort makes us feel a part of the action without shoving it in our faces.
Detail, once again, is superior, with skin textures, hair, fabric, even the bits of garbage flooding the incinerator looking incredibly lifelike. Contrast is perfect, with lights and darks impeccably balanced. Colors - be they primaries or pastels - are bright and bold, and black levels are lush and inky. Lines are smooth yet razor sharp, making even the smallest items beautifully delineated. I might have noticed a dusting of noise on a couple of shots, but it was so brief and insignificant it barely merits mention. And no other digital glitches afflict this A+ rendering.
Simply put, this is another dazzling Disney 3D transfer that enhances 'Toy Story 3' and ramps up the home viewing Blu-ray experience to intoxicating and exhilarating heights. Looking for some 3D demo material? You've got it here.
You knew that the picture was going to look great. That's pretty much a given when it comes to Pixar on Blu-ray, but what about the audio? Let me tell you something, the audio is the real treat on this release. 'Toy Story 3 3D' comes complete with an enthralling 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that will keep you engulfed from the opening scene until the end of the credits. The soundfield is filled with lively noises and ambient sound that will totally immerse you in the story.
As soon as the toys get to the daycare center the masterful ambiance takes over. Screaming kids encircle the soundfield as they run amok. Clinks, clanks, and clangs are delivered with precision as the toys are greeted by a whole host of new toys. During a flashback with a rainstorm individual droplets can be distinguished. It's simply stunning.
Panning effects work wonders, especially as the 7.1 mix takes into account the two side channels. Now Woody is soaring high above you as the wind pushes him higher and higher. His screams and "Woos" are carried throughout the mix, placed exactly where they should be. When it comes time for the big final action-packed ending the mix is cranked up to a bass-laden LFE slug-fest that will catch you by surprise. All this time the soundtrack has been subtle and nuanced, giving us an extremely detailed but reserved audio experience. That all ends when the toys get to the dump and try to escape permanent doom. Room-shaking bass is released from the sub, but never so overwhelming that it takes over and drowns out the dialogue.
Just like the video presentation, this audio presentation is top-notch demo-worthy material. From the restrained, but detail-oriented beginning to the bass-rumbling ending this is another wonderful HD audio experience provided by Disney and Pixar.
All the supplements from the original 'Toy Story 3' DVD are included here.
'Toy Story 3' is one of the best Pixar films. The studio took its time with this movie and didn't rush it. I still think it's a peg below 1 and 2, but it still chokes me up at the end. The 3D video is exceptional, the audio is demo quality, and there's a huge helping of extras that will keep you entertained for hours. This five-disc set comes highly recommended for the entire family. If you've got 3D capabilities, go out and grab this disc. Your family will thank you.