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Featured Blu-ray Review: Toy Story and Toy Story 2

March 20th, 2010

Toy Story - Blu-ray / DVD Combo Packs - Buy from Amazon: Toy Story and Toy Story 2

With Toy Story 3 coming out in the middle of June, Disney is releasing Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on Blu-ray / DVD Combo packs. The first digitally animated film and its sequel are coming out on High Definition for the first time. For most people, that will be enough to buy these releases. But let's take a look at what the Blu-rays have over and above the DVDs.

I could probably review these two movies without watching them again. After all, I've seen the two movies at least a dozen times. The basic plot goes like this...

Toys are alive. When you are not in the room, all of your toys move around. Toy Story takes place in the room of a young boy named Andy who is about to move, which is a major concern for the toys. Also, it's Andy's birthday and all the toys are afraid a new toy will come along and replace them... all of them except Woody, Andy's favorite. However, his calm demeanor fades with the arrival of Buzz Ligthyear, a futuristic space toy than soon becomes Andy's favorite. After a minor prank by Woody results in Buzz falling out the window, Woody is accused of trying to get rid of Buzz. The other toys turn on him and throw him out the window. Now Woody and Buzz have to work together to get back home before Andy's family moves and they are lost forever.

This movie is near perfection, both in terms of the story and the more technical aspects of the film. Yes, digital animation has come a long way since then, but looking back it is still amazing. The writing, the characters and the acting all make sure this movie will still be a classic long after the digital animation becomes archaic. This is a movie should be in everyone's collection.

There are plenty of extras on the Blu-ray, including the ones from the previous DVD. The new extras start with a featurette called Buzz Lightyear's Mission Logs: Blast Off, which is super goofy. Not too long ago, an astronaut bought a Buzz Lightyear action figure and this featurette pretends that it was the real Buzz Lightyear. Like I said: super goofy, but fun and educational. Path to Pixar talks to a number animators and how they joined Pixar. There are three short Studio Stories on John's Car, Baby AJ, and Scooter Race. Basically, there are three short animated stories about true stories from Pixar. Combined they are barely more than five minutes long, but very entertaining. Buzz Takes Manhattan is a 2-minute featurette on Buzz's debut on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Black Friday is the longest of the new featurettes. At seven-and-a-half minutes, it talks about the early drafts of the story, which had a much darker "Woody". About half the featurette is the intro explaining how the film came to be, while the rest is part of the movie reel shown that day. The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, while it comes with a DVD that is also packed with extras.

For many, the most important special feature on this DVD is a 2-minute preview for Toy Story 3, which focuses on the story. It's definitely worth checking out, but at just two minutes long there's not enough here to really learn much.

(There is also a full slate of extras from the previous DVD that were ported over, including an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, "making of" featurette, retrospective, etc.)

As for the film's technical presentation... I was expecting near perfection. I was expecting this film would look and sound amazing, even if the visuals were a little dated. This is almost exactly what we get, except the visuals are not as dated as I thought they would be. Granted, there's not as many details as some of the latest digitally animated movies, but there's no problems with the transfer.

Toy Story 2 starts sometime after the events of the first film. Andy is about to leave for summer camp and is going to take Woody with him, but he accidentally rips his arm. Afterwards, he's nearly sold at a yard sale, only to be stolen by an obsessive toy collector. Now it is up to Buzz and the rest of the group to steal him back. Woody learns he was the star of a TV show and he has family, including Jessie the cowgirl and Stinky Pete the prospector, and of course his faithful stead, Bullseye. When he decides to go back, someone keeps sabotaging the rescue attempts.

Many people consider Toy Story 2 to be better than the original. Considering they both have Tomatometer Scores of 100%, it's hard to tell from that which is better. My personal opinion is that this one is slightly better than the original, but only because the filmmakers didn't have to spend as much time introducing the main cast. We could jump into the plot faster. However, everything that made the original so special is still here.

Looking at the extras will give you a sense of Deja vu, as the new features are mirrored from extras found above. There's another installment of Buzz Lightyear's Mission Logs, more Paths to Pixar, three more Studio Stories, etc. There's a Pixar Zoetrope, which is a 2-minute featurette on the three-dimensional Zoetrope Pixar made after John Lasseter saw one at Studio Ghibli (the studio that made Ponyo and other films). Finally, there's a memorial to Joe Ranft, who tragically died in 2005 after a car crash. The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, while it comes with a DVD that is also packed with extras.

Additionally, there is a 4-minute preview for Toy Story 3, this time focusing on the new characters. Since it's longer, they can get more in-depth without spoilers and it is a lot more interesting than the story preview.

(There is also a full slate of extras from the previous DVD that were ported over, including an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, "making of" featurettes, etc.)

Finally, looking at the film's High Definition presentations, it is as crisp and as perfect as the original is. It looks as good as any of the new 2009 slate of digitally animated films look.

The Verdict

This week Toy Story and Toy Story 2 make their debuts on Blu-ray. Considering the high quality of the two movies, that's all a lot of people need to hear. Not only are the movies amazing, but both Blu-rays are loaded with extras and the High Definition presentation is flawless. They are easily contenders for Pick of the Week honors.

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Filed under: Toy Story 3D Double Feature