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Toy Story 2(1999)
The adventures of toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear continue when their owner Andy goes off to summer camp, leaving them to their own devices. Things take a bad turn when an obsessive toy collector kidnaps Woody because he is a highly valuable collector's item. Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex and Hamm, all leap into action to rescue Woody and get home before Andy returns from camp.
For more about Toy Story 2 and the Toy Story 2 Blu-ray release, see Toy Story 2 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles, Jim Varney
Director: John Lasseter
» See full cast & crew
Toy Story 2 Blu-ray Review
Pixar's lovable toys launch an assault on the senses in yet another Blu-ray stunner...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 20, 2010
It shouldn't have worked. An animated sequel? Releasing in theaters? It was unheard of, and many braced themselves for the worst. The trailers were amusing, sure, but with so many new characters and returning favorites being crammed under one roof, everyone began murmuring. Would the wizards of Pixar, somewhat disappointed with A Bug's Life's middling reception, simply retread old ground? Could the studio that birthed Buzz and Woody really strike cinematic gold twice in just four years? Would audiences care? As it turns out, the answer to all three questions was a resounding "yes." Toy Story 2 not only left a lingering mark in theaters with an astounding $80 million dollar opening weekend (in 1999 no less), it went on to make $500 million at the worldwide box office, receive enormous critical praise, earn a devoted home video fanbase, and effectively hurtle Pixar toward the 21st century. Oh, did I forget to mention it also turned out to be a fantastic movie? One that outclasses its rightfully acclaimed 1995 predecessor in every way and remains one of Pixar's best films to date?
Since we last left them, Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) have become good friends, and Andy (John Morris) has continued to give them equal affection. Together, the pair lead their devoted family of toys -- piggie bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), tiny-limbed Rex (Wallace Shawn), Bo Peep (Annie Potts), Sarge (R. Lee Ermey) and his Green Army, and dozens of others -- over any obstacle. Until, that is, a torn arm leaves Woody stranded in the dusty wasteland of Andy's top shelf. While his fellow toys try to talk him down, Woody realizes an old friend, Wheezy the Squeaky Penguin (Joe Ranft), is about to meet his fate at a yard sale. Hurrying outside to rescue his doomed pal, the dutiful cowboy is spotted and stolen by a greedy toy collector (Wayne Knight) desperate to complete an invaluable four-figure collection. When he arrives at the man's apartment though, he slowly begins to grow fond of Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer), and Bullseye the Faithful Steed, three cowboy-themed dolls who tell Woody he was fashioned after a famous marionette on a once-popular '50s TV series; one that produced a limited run of increasingly rare dolls before it was canceled. As Woody struggles to choose between immortality in a museum with his new family and his waning loyalty to Andy, Buzz mounts a daring rescue, leads his fellow toys toward the collector's store, and encounters far more trouble than he bargained for.
Once again, Pixar scores an animated trifecta with a charming cast of delightful characters, exceptional voice performances, and a masterclass script that offers spirited humor and absorbing parallel storylines. Dropping three new toys and a slew of additional characters, all of which demand significant screentime, into a world that was already overflowing with worthy personalities could have ended in failure. But by separating Buzz and Woody and catapulting them in two, entirely different directions, writer/director John Lasseter, co-writers Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton, and the rest of the Pixar team make it an exceedingly accessible two-pronged tale of friendship and loyalty. They effectively tinker with themes that were seemingly exhausted in the original Toy Story, and only repeat themselves when the material absolutely demands it. (And even then, Lasseter and his cohorts find exciting new ways to tackle old ideas.) Jessie, Pete, and Bullseye quickly earn equal standing with their long-established castmates, and lend a sense of maturity and resonance to a film that could have easily been an action-oriented, Buzz-focused roller coaster ride. To that end, Hanks, Allen, and their impassioned brethren inject urgency and sincerity into their performances, tackling their plastic heroes as if they were full-fledged, meticulously developed human beings. Even ten years later, it isn't often that an animated film's characters live and breathe as believably as Andy and Al's toys.
Still, the sequel's greatest feat is that it surpasses its forefather. Each theme is more completely dissected and offers more rewarding revelations, every toy is given a more complex role to embrace, both plotlines are as weighty and meaningful as the original film's singular tale, and everything -- the laughs, the drama, the emotions, the joy, the tears (Jessie's song always rips me apart) -- pierces deeper, hits harder, and leaves a more lasting mark. There will always be those who place Toy Story above Toy Story 2, but for me the pair represent a near-flawless evolution of character, story, and animation, as well as a powerful, two-part testament to Pixar and mastermind John Lasseter's filmmaking prowess. Toy Story 2 could have simply been a direct-to-video aside (at one point, Disney even saw it as nothing more than a secondary project). It could have been an uninventive rehash or, worse, a derivative cash-in designed to fill Toys R' Us aisles with action figures and Happy Meals with cheap promotions. But Lasseter had grander plans, all of which his Pixar team brought together into one cohesive whole. It remains one of the few animated sequels to make a box office splash, one of the fewer animated sequels to rise above its first film, and the lone animated sequel to deserve a followup like the one scheduled for theatrical release this June. It's just that good.
Toy Story 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Though its decade-old animation is starting to show some wrinkles, I doubt Toy Story 2 could look much better than it does here. Blessed with a striking 1080p/AVC-encoded beast of a transfer (direct from the digital tap, mind you), Buzz and Woody's second adventure impresses with bold, beautiful colors, flawless blacks, and beautiful contrast leveling. Be it crammed in a dimly lit apartment, baking on Andy's sunny lawn, or buried within Zurg's neon-infused lair, each element of Pixar's animation demands attention. You can read every tiny word on Andy's book bindings and wall posters, count the specks of dust collecting on Wheezy's head, trace the stitching on the Roundup Gang's costumes, and practically pluck the errant bits of stubble from Al's ungainly jowls. More importantly, fine detail is clean and stable, edge definition is laser-sharp, and every texture (from Mr. Potato Head's bumpy skin to Buster's bristly fur) has been painstakingly rendered. Artifacting? Not a blip. Ringing? None that I saw. Noise? Nope. Banding? Two fleeting, blink-and-you'll miss em anomalies (one in the dark skies during Buzz's descent toward Zurg's planet, and the other in the dead of night as the toys begin their trek toward Al's Toy Barn). Aliasing? Just three instances (two along Slinky Dog's spring, and one involving Woody's back at the yard sale), both of which will escape even the most stone-cold videophiles. Nitpicks aside, Toy Story 2 joins Pixar's growing pantheon of marvelous Blu-ray releases with a technically proficient presentation worth the cost of admission alone.
Toy Story 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Make no mistake: Toy Story 2 means business. I could write three paragraphs about the sonic wonders awaiting listeners in the first five-minutes of the film alone -- my entire house shook as the opening credits roared overhead, as Buzz rocketed across a seemingly desolate landscape, obliterated an army of emerging robot warriors, and descended into Emperor Zurg's underground fortress -- but I'd run out of gushing superlatives long before giving the rest of Disney's arresting, sternum-rattling DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track its proper due. As if the LFE channel didn't cause enough damage at the outset, the mix continues its bombardment, handily transforming approaching traffic into a deafening menace, mean-spirited humans into deadly giants, and shuddering luggage belts into rampaging rivers. Meanwhile, the rear speakers aggressively enter the fray. Toy store aisles become vast cities, high grass becomes a daunting forest, an air vent becomes a sprawling industrial shaft, and every car horn and Barbie squeal that punctuates the soundscape becomes a key component of the experience. Moreover, dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout, directionality is amazing (particularly for an animated film), pans seem to travel at the speed of light, the soundfield is incredibly immersive, Randy Newman's music swells from every direction... I could go on and on. But it all boils down to this: Toy Story 2 proves itself to be a visual stunner and a sonic powerhouse. Kudos, Disney.
Toy Story 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Toy Story 2 barrels into your home theater with a bevy of special features, among them some newly produced high definition material and all of the supplemental content from the previously released DVD (albeit presented in standard definition). While Toy Story has a deeper, more extensive package, Disney has assembled a nice collection of Toy Story 2 goodies that should still satisfy anyone who picks up the disc.
Toy Story 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Toy Story 2 is one of those rare sequels that bests its predecessor; a particularly astonishing feat for an animated film. Lasseter tweaks old favorites to perfection while introducing a cast of wonderful new characters, delivers an even richer adventure, and serves up unforgettable scene after unforgettable scene. (If the wizards at Pixar manage to accomplish the same thing with Toy Story 3, I'll be utterly speechless.) Disney's Blu-ray release is just as strong as the film itself, granting fans of the now-classic series a gorgeous video transfer, a thrilling DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a solid supplemental package. Sure, some more special features would have been nice, but I can barely muster a complaint. Toy Story 2 belongs on every filmfan's shelves and in every animation lover's heart.
Toy Story 2: Other Editions
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