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Woody, a traditional pull-string talking cowboy, has long enjoyed a place of honor as the favorite among six-year-old Andy's menagerie of toys. Quick to calm their anxieties about being replaced by newer arrivals, Woody finds his own confidence shaken, and his status as top toy in jeopardy, upon the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, simply the coolest space action figure ever made. Woody plots to get rid of Buzz, but things backfire and he finds himself lost in the outside world with Buzz as his only companion. Joining forces to find their way home, the two rivals set out on an adventure that lands them in the clutches of Sid, a sadistic neighborhood kid who is notorious for dismembering and reassembling "mutant" toys in his bedroom. As "guests" of Sid and his dog, Scud, the two fugitive toys forge a genuine friendship and learn that only through mutual trust and respect do they have any chance of survival.
For more about Toy Story and the Toy Story Blu-ray release, see Toy Story Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: John Lasseter
Writers: Joel Cohen, Joss Whedon, John Lasseter, Alec Sokolow, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, Laurie Metcalf
» See full cast & crew
Toy Story Blu-ray Review
Pixar's first official classic dresses to impress on Blu-ray...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 20, 2010
It's difficult to convey how drastically and substantially Pixar Studios and filmmaker John Lasseter have altered the landscape of animation. As the '80s slowly sank into the sands of time and the '90s began promising new strides in technology, CG animation was little more than an intriguing gimmick; a gangly gambit that didn't seem destined for any sort of greatness, much less the sort of cinematic coup that was brewing in Lasseter's brain. But that was before 1995; before Toy Story invaded thousands of theaters, took international audiences by storm, and inspired an artistic revolution that continues to rage some fifteen years after its first battle was forged. Animation enthusiasts can bicker for days on end as to whether a hand-drawn wonder or a CG marvel offers the best animated experience, but no amount of debate can rob Pixar or its best films of their incalculable value. And Toy Story? More than just the first of its kind, it remains one of the studio's finest, and the first of a thriving breed of new Disney classics -- among them beloved favorites Up, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc. -- that have steadily established a hold over filmfans of all ages.
Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is living the life. Pull-string cowboy dolls don't usually have it so good, but as his owner Andy's favorite toy, Woody rules the playroom. His friends love and respect him -- matter-of-fact piggie bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger), the cantankerous Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), ever-loyal right hand man Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), anxiety-stricken plastic dinosaur Rex (Wallace Shawn), the lovely Bo Peep (Annie Potts), and the dutiful sergeant of Andy's Green Army Men (R. Lee Ermey) -- and his owner has scribbled his name on the bottom of Woody's boot, an enviable honor in the toy world. The rules are simple: never let Andy know that toys merely play possum when children come near, and keep the boy as happy as possible. But that all changes at Andy's birthday party when his mother buys him the hottest new action figure on the market, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Earning instant affection, Buzz makes Woody jealous, especially when the lanky cowboy realizes the space ranger has no idea he's actually just a child's plaything. As Andy prepares to choose one toy to bring on a long trip, Woody tries to knock Buzz out of the running, only to accidentally knock him out of the window. Now, with his friends convinced that he tried to kill the new guy, Woody begrudgingly sets out to retrieve Buzz and restore peace and order to Andy's room.
Toy Story's boundless, dare I say timeless charm traces back to its voice actors' passionate, pitch-perfect performances, Pixar's remarkably smart and funny script (penned by Lasseter, Up director Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and affable "heart and soul" of the studio, Joe Ranft), and the entire animation team's utter devotion to storytelling and character development. Though essentially a riff on the buddy cop films of the '80s and '90s, Lasseter's comedy is a far more nuanced endeavor; one that has plenty to offer both children and adults. Wide-eyed tykes will soak up the building-block sights and Pizza-Planet whimsy, clapping and laughing as Buzz and Woody battle for their owner's affection. But thirty and forty-something parents will be drawn into Andy's world as well, engrossed by a cowboy doll's insecurity and desperation, an action figure's delusions of grandeur and eventual triumph, a dinosaur's perpetual fear and sudden panic attacks and, of course, just how easily Pixar transforms these mounds of plastic and stitched cloth into characters that are so decidedly human. It helps that Hanks, Allen, Ratzenberger, and nearly every voice actor that graces the proceedings has connected to the material so intensely, and has rooted themselves so deeply in the world Lasseter and company are creating. Their performances lend the film legitimate momentum, imbue each toy with spirit and purpose, and make every joke funnier and every theme more powerful. It's something genre filmmakers still fail to achieve some two decades after Pixar mastered the process. Just sample any number of recent animated misfires -- Astroboy, Planet 51, Igor, and many others -- and you'll hear what Toy Story could have been filled with: wooden acting, uninspired voice work, and disconnected deliveries that undermine everything their films' animators have toiled to accomplish.
Pixar's commitment to every aspect of their productions is obvious, and the very thing that allows Toy Story, aging animation and all, to rocket into the stratosphere of the imagination in 2010 as readily as it did in 1995. Toys have never seemed so alive, vending machines have never been home to such hilarious alien cultures, cobbled monstrosities have never been so captivating, sinister toy-nabbing miscreants have never been so terrifying, adventure has never hurtled down a road on the back of an RC car with such abandon, and your childhood playthings have never taken on such a life of their own. (At least until Toy Story 2, but that's another review.) Has it stood the test of time? Dozens of viewings and my five-year old son's couch-bouncing reaction to Buzz and Woody's shenanigans certainly seem to suggest so. Have its jokes grown stale? Not if my family's laughter is any indication. Has the tale lost its hold? Without any misguided pop culture references or cheap humor lurking in the shadows, Pixar's storytelling is as breezy and effortless as it was when the film first hit theaters. Is its animation too outdated to lure in newcomers? Hardly. It may show its age, but antiquated animation hasn't stopped Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and countless others from winning over the masses, young and old alike. Just like those indelible greats, Toy Story's memorable personalities, expressive faces, absorbing story, and amazing adventure will keep its heart beating for years to come.
Toy Story Blu-ray, Video Quality
While Toy Story's animation is beginning to show some serious age, Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is a technical wonder plucked directly from Pixar's pristine digital source. Vibrant colors beam from the screen, delivering a veritable rainbow of Crayola reds, Tyrannosaurus greens, and brilliant blues. Woody and Buzz have never looked better and each of their plasticized cohorts benefit from the same dramatic high definition overhaul. Detail is impeccable as well. Textures, limited as they may be, are crisp and perfectly defined, edges are sharp enough to slice open an action figure blister pack, and every element of the backgrounds and foregrounds pops exactly as Lasseter and the Pixar team intended. The difference between the picture and its previously released standard DVD counterparts is incalculable. More importantly, the technical transfer is spotless. While two terribly brief, wholly negligible instances of aliasing caught my eye (both of which involved Slinky Dog's spring), I didn't detect any artifacting, banding, noise, ringing, or other such oddities. Suffice to say, those who've become accustomed to the five-star treatments Pixar releases have continually received will be overjoyed to see the same love and care has been given to the granddaddy of them all.
Toy Story Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I knew Toy Story featured a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, but I never thought I'd be so pleased by what I would hear. (It seems expectations will be the death of me.) From an opening playroom tussle to the chaotic, birthday-born arrival of Buzz Lightyear; from the space-faring figure's fall out of a window to Woody's reluctant Pizza Planet pseudo-rescue; from Sid's tortured toys to our faithful heroes' escape from his clutches, Toy Story takes advantage of every channel, submerging the listener in a consistently satisfying soundfield brimming with barking army men, clattering slinkies, clanging arcades, clamoring aliens, and the loyal roar of a desperate RC's engine. LFE output is strong (despite being a tad reserved at times), lending toppling toys tremendous weight, lumbering monstrosities some frightening presence, and a rickety truck bed unruly heft. Rear speaker activity is engaging as well, enhancing each scene with ample ambient effects and convincing interior acoustics. Likewise, dialogue is clean, intelligible, and perfectly prioritized regardless of whether Woody and Buzz are surrounded by droning claaaaw servants, arguing beneath a delivery boy's truck, or hurtling down a road in pursuit of their owner. Combined with snapshot directionality and stealthy pans, all of the elements lock into place, creating a sturdy (albeit reasonably dated) sonic experience that complements the film nicely.
Toy Story Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Toy Story packs a bit more supplemental punch than Toy Story 2, but only because its standard definition counterpart had a greater bounty of bonus materials to pilfer (all of which have been ported over from said DVD). Otherwise, Disney has granted Lasseter's first feature-length baby a comparable collection of newly produced high definition content. The only thing that could have made it better? A Picture-in-Picture track or a suite of snazzy BD-Java features.
Toy Story Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Between its endearing characters, smartly penned story, flawless voice performances, and timeless humor, Toy Story isn't just Pixar's first feature-length film, it's one of the studio's finest. While the sequel miraculously managed to best the original (for me anyway), Lasseter's opening volley changed the way audiences viewed animation and redefined the boundaries of animated family films. To my relief, Disney's Blu-ray release doesn't skip a beat, delivering a stunning video transfer, an unexpectedly powerful DTS-HD Master Audio track, and hours of special features, new and old alike. Animation enthusiasts, Disney fans, and cinephiles of all ages will be enamored with the results.
Toy Story: Other Editions
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Toy Story Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Toy Story 4 Announced - November 6, 2014
Disney announced earlier today that John Lasseter will direct Toy Story 4. According to early reports, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich -- the team responsible for the previous three Toy Story films -- will also work on the script for the new film.
• Today on Blu-ray - March 23rd - March 23, 2010
After years of creating computer animated shorts, mostly to show the ability of their powerful computer systems, Pixar set out to transform their struggling business model and create a feature length film. Partnering with Disney on this effort gave them access ...
• Coupons and Movie Money with Toy Story 1 & 2 on Blu-ray - March 22, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has printable $5 off coupons good for the purchase of the Toy Story or Toy Story 2 Blu-ray/DVD combo packs during their first week in stores. This coupon is redeemable at participating retailers. Additionally, Disney is offering ...
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