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Toy Story 3(2010)
When their owner clears out his bedroom in preparation for starting college, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the toy-box gang are dumped in the donations box at a local nursery school and find themselves at the mercy of a horde of wild, sticky-fingered toddlers. As they struggle to stay together while coping with the chaos, the gang meet a new bunch of toys led by pink teddy bear Lotso, while Barbie is at last united with her male counterpart, Ken. The yearning to return home cannot be ignored, however, and many comical adventures ensue as the toys make a series of elaborate escape attempts.
For more about Toy Story 3 and the Toy Story 3 Blu-ray release, see Toy Story 3 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 26, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty
Director: Lee Unkrich
» See full cast & crew
Toy Story 3 Blu-ray Review
Pixar does it again, and with a sequel no less...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 26, 2010
It's strange: with each passing Pixar release, I walk into the theater without trepidation or expectation. Deep down, I know whatever I'm about to watch will be amazing. Even the studio's worst stands shoulder to shoulder with other animation studios' best. (Point to A Bug's Life and Cars, ye cantankerous cynics. Both films only suffer by comparison to their greater Pixar brethren.) Even deeper down, I squash any and every expectation that begins to take form. For fifteen years now, Pixar has taken my inner child on animated adventures I never dreamed possible; flights of thrilling fantasy replete with masterful, at-times poignant storytelling, indispensable characters, gorgeous worlds, groundbreaking animation and charming laughs primed and polished for kids of all ages. When I sit down to watch a Pixar film for the first time, I can honestly say I have no desire to know what I'm about to experience. And I have yet to regret it. Still, I'm sure many of you felt the pangs of trepidation or the surge of expectation at the announcement of Toy Story 3. Once doomed to direct-to-video hell, the film was saved from an ungodly end by newly appointed Disney animation Chief Creative Officer and father of all things Toy Story, John Lasseter. But to what end? Sequels are already notoriously dangerous propositions, and animated sequels have long been slave to the law of diminishing cinematic returns. Could a third theatrical Toy Story possibly compare to its 1995 and 1999 predecessors, both beloved classics treasured by countless fans the world over? More importantly, would aging audiences and young newcomers care about a franchise that had been dormant for a decade? A deluge of critical praise and a billion box office bucks suggests the answer to both questions is a resounding "yes."
Audiences have waited ten long years to see spirited toys and faithful friends Sheriff Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) reunited on the big screen. But ten years have passed for Buzz and Woody as well. Discarded in a dusty closet, the dutiful duo lead a small remnant of surviving toys -- old pals their now seventeen-year-old owner, Andy (John Morris), has held onto for sentimental reasons -- and dream up elaborate ways to win even a second of Andy's attention. Which toys remain after years of yard sales and trash bags? Feisty cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), piggy bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger), timid dino Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), the ever-loyal Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), fearless Green Army Men soldier Sarge (R. Lee Ermey) and Barbie (Jodi Benson), a perky, dim-witted toy who sought refuge with Buzz and Woody after Molly (Beatrice Miller), Andy's sister, began to ignore her. But when there are talking toys, trouble is never far behind. As Andy prepares to leave for college, his mother (Laurie Metcalf) mistakes a bag full of toys for trash and sets them on the curb. Woody, having seen the miscommunication transpire, desperately tries to explain the situation to Buzz, Jessie and the other distraught toys, but as is often the case, they refuse to listen. Hopping in a donation box bound for Sunnyside Daycare Center, they arrive to a place of promise and potential: a colorful world where they'll be played with every day for as long as their ball joints and stitches will last. Woody is convinced they all belong with Andy, even if it means sitting in a box in an attic, and sets out for home.
Unfortunately, Sunnyside quickly devolves into a nightmare for Buzz, Jessie and the others. The daycare center is ruled by a gang of plush and plastic thugs -- embittered pink teddy bear Lotso (Ned Beatty), self-centered diva doll Ken (Michael Keaton), cooing giant Big Baby, insectoid action figure Twitch (John Cygan), rubber octopus Stretch (Whoopi Goldberg), face-flipping muscle Chunk (Jack Angel), hot-headed yes-man Sparks (Jan Rabson), resident genius Bookworm (Richard Kind), reluctant insider Chatter Telephone (Teddy Newton) and the dreaded Cymbal-Banging Monkey (no voice actor, just pure, terrifying evil) -- many of whom have little concern for the safety and well-being of their newest recruits. After resetting Buzz and tricking him into joining their gang, Lotso and his henchmen imprison Jessie and her friends, force them to serve time in the pre-kindergarten ward (where toys are abused without mercy) and take full advantage of their captives. But Andy's toys refuse to go down without a fight and soon start devising an escape plan. Meanwhile, Woody is found en route to Andy's house by a little girl named Bonnie (Emily Hahn) and taken to her room for a tea party. There he meets sarcastic rag doll Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), stuffed method actor Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), chatty triceratops Trixie (Kristen Schaal), straight-shooting unicorn Buttercup (Jeff Garlin) and sad clown Chuckles (Bud Luckey), who tell him exactly what awaits new toys at Sunnyside. Determined to save his friends from Lotso, Woody heads back. But can he rescue his family, convince each of them they're wanted and get home before Andy leaves for college?
Cards on the table. As far as I'm concerned, Toy Story 3 isn't just the best of the Toy Story films, it's the finest film in Pixar's canon. Much has been written about its dark, emotionally taxing storyline -- and rightfully so -- but director Lee Unkrich's fiercely clever trilogy capper isn't an overtly grim fairy tale, nor is it any more frightening or thematically challenging than some of the more unsettling, heart-wrenching animated films of the '80s (The Secret of Nimh, Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, the oft-forgot Brave Little Toaster and the original Land Before Time, just to name a few). There are powerful scenes sprinkled throughout Toy Story 3; profound, overwhelming sequences that left me shaken, stirred and lying in a quivering heap of man-tears. I was startled by the intense empathy I felt for Woody when he would stare longingly at Andy, a towering owner-god so consumed with his own affairs that he neglects his most loyal servants. I was caught off guard at the flood of emotions I experienced when Andy's toys, facing certain death, quietly accepted the inevitability of their fate in a serene moment of sobering silence. Jessie's fear of something all too familiar from her past, Buzz's soulful resignation, Andy's mother as she deals with the departure of her college-bound son, Bonnie's sweet embrace of a toy who hasn't felt the love of an owner in years... even Lotso's tragic origin drew me into the fabric of Pixar's toy-strewn world and demanded I contemplate mortality, friendship and loss. And the end? The last twenty minutes of the film are as devastating and moving as the heart-crushing, tear-jerking opening minutes of Up (Pixar's other recent masterwork). Even sitting here typing out carefully veiled descriptions of the film's most affective scenes, my eyes are beginning to burn; a telltale sign that tears aren't too far off.
Not that Toy Story 3 is a somber affair. Quite the contrary. I found myself laughing more than anything else, reconnecting with the imaginary worlds of my childhood, reliving the adventures I once concocted for my own action figures and falling in love with Buzz, Woody, Jessie and the entire Toy Story squad all over again. Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt never retread old ground and rarely return to the franchise trough in search of old, fan-favorite gags. Even when they dabble in familiar territory -- Buzz isn't himself... again -- they devise brilliant new ways to play with classic franchise beats. Likewise, as Andy and the Toy Story audience have aged, so have the themes involved. Never so much that a wide-eyed 21st century tot can't enjoy the film as much as his dear old dad, but just enough to give older viewers plenty of fresh meat to chew on. And then there are the new toys, all of which turn out to be smartly deployed additions to an ever-expanding but ever-manageable cast of characters. Lotso emerges as the most fully realized Toy Story villain to date, and Beatty's smooth Southern drawl infuses the teddy bear's every promise and threat with a pinch of palpable malice. Ken is one of the funniest deconstructions Pixar has ever created, and Keaton elevates his smug simpleton's smarmy quips, naive arrogance and hilarious obsession with fashion into truly memorable scene-stealers. Bonnie and her toys are absolute delights as well, and young Hahn's enthusiasm and authentic delivery could easily shoulder a Bonnie-helmed Toy Story at some point in the near future. As it stands, every character has a purpose. Every toy has a function within the narrative. Every new personality, no matter how much or how little screentime they earn, has something to offer the ensemble.
I could go on -- I haven't even mention the lasting impact left by Pixar's jaw-dropping animation, the pitch-perfect addition of Randy Newman's music, the epic tone of Buzz and Woody's third adventure, Unkrich's impeccable pacing and rousing vision, how wonderfully the film's ending works as both a closing and opening chapter in the toys' lives, Arndt's sharply penned dialogue and brisk storytelling, the returning voice cast's electric performances or just how much the filmmakers prove another sequel was indeed an excellent idea -- but I'd rather not wear out my welcome. Needless to say, I was entranced from beginning to end. I adored it, my wife loved it and my five-year-old son can't get enough of it. I'm sure debates will continue to rage as to which Toy Story is the best of the best, but regardless of how you personally rank the films, it's important to note just how amazing each entry is. I can't wait for the next Pixar tour de force. No trepidation, no expectation. Just pure, unadulterated anticipation.
Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, Video Quality
At long last, the Blu-ray edition of Toy Story 3. Is it Pixar perfect? Aside from the tiniest bit of fleeting, altogether negligible banding and aliasing -- both of which will escape all but the most discerning, easily distracted videophiles among you -- yes, Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation is as Pixar perfect as the high definition releases of Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up. The film itself may involve an increasingly dark trip down Buzz and Woody's once-colorful halls, but that doesn't mean a single, striking frame of Toy Story 3 suffers in any way. Primaries are incredibly vibrant, black levels are rich and savory, contrast is impeccable and the dazzling dreamscape of Sunnyside Daycare has been rendered beautifully. And detail -- straight from the digital tap and polished with meticulous precision -- is immaculate as well. Every frayed tuft of Lotso's weathered fur, every discolored stitch and fading piece of plastic that adorns our faithful heroes, every texture that peppers Rex's tail and Jessie's hat, every fleck of glitter and speck of dust, every playroom scar, large and small... if Pixar animated it, it's alive, well and on full, wondrous display. Edge definition is sleek and sophisticated, fine textures are exceedingly well resolved and clarity is flawless. It may sound like hyperbole, but anything less would fail to accurately describe the breathtaking visual spectacle that awaits fans. Disney's encode is equally remarkable. Artifacting, noise, digital clutter, ringing and other common anomalies are nowhere to be found, and the whole of the picture is pristine. And what of the negligible banding and aliasing I mentioned? Both are limited to a handful of split-second appearances that are terribly easy to overlook. In fact, if I weren't staring at every inch of the film's backgrounds, searching for the smallest hiccup, I doubt I would have noticed a hint of either one. Ultimately, the only way Toy Story 3 could look any better is if you hopped in a DeLorean and picked up a copy of the film's 25th Anniversary re-release (complete with sparkling lossless video). Prepare to be floored.
Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Having exhausted so many glowing adjectives on Disney's video transfer, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to conveying the sheer sonic strength of Toy Story 3's arresting DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. Simply put, Disney has outdone itself. Voices are sharp, clean, warm, perfectly prioritized and masterfully integrated into the mix. Lines are never lost, whispers are never buried beneath any ensuing action and every nuance of the cast's deliveries is present and accounted for. Which is a relief considering just how chaotic Toy Story 3's set pieces become. A bustling daycare center finds dozens of toys scurrying from channel to channel, a thundering charge of pre-K warriors shakes the very ground, a garbage truck rumbles and belches exhaust like a great steel beast, and a waste disposal facility roars with indignation as if the gates of hell have been flung open for our trembling heroes. Through it all, LFE output is decidedly powerful and prescient, lending convincing weight, heft and resonance whenever called upon. (In a world of eight-inch toys, where even the most common household item can suddenly present tremendous danger, that turns out to be quite often.) Rear speaker activity is aggressive and entertaining, teasing the ear with the tiniest elements, taking full advantage of a veritable sandbox of ambient effects, creating believable acoustics no matter the environment and further immersing the listener in an already immersive world. Directionality is precise, engaging and enveloping, pans are prison-break smooth and dynamics are both playful and punchy. My thesaurus doesn't have any more synonyms for "perfect." Toy Story 3 is an AV powerhouse, one you should be eager to invite into your home.
Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 4-disc Blu-ray edition of Toy Story 3 tumbles out of Pixar's overstuffed toybox with more than five hours of special features including a Picture-in-Picture filmmakers commentary, an audio commentary with lead members of their crew (both of which are found on the set's second disc), a full suite of high definition production featurettes and a slew of additional bonus materials (as well as standard DVD and Digital copies of the film).
Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Toy Story 3 is a modern animated marvel. I feel ill-equipped to adequately explain how fantastic a film, how fitting a conclusion, how cinematic an experience, how touching a tale, how entertaining a grownup film for children, how moving a children's film for grownups, and how infectious an instant classic Pixar's third chapter in the Toy Story saga actually is. The 4-disc Blu-ray edition is equally rewarding. With an unequivocally stunning video transfer, an unwavering DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track and more than five hours of special features (including a Picture-in-Picture filmmakers commentary, a second technical crew commentary and a stack of additional bonus materials), Disney has done it again. Toy Story 3 comes with my highest recommendation.
Toy Story 3: Other Editions
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