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Toy Story 2 (Special Edition) (1999) Print E-mail
Friday, 26 March 2010
ImageMarvelous.  Simply marvelous.  That is all I can really say about this film.  "Toy Story 2" was as much unexpected as it was successful.  Full-length, theatrically released animated sequels were unheard of.  And to this today there haven't been many.  In fact, with "Toy Story 3" coming to theaters in a few months it still ranks as one of the only animated franchises to have theatrically released sequels.

What's more, is that the sequel is actually better than the original, something that is quite uncommon among film sequels.  "Toy Story 2" blows the first film out of the water.  So what makes the second film better?  Well, there are several things, two in particular.  First, interaction of the toys with the outside world is more inviting and interesting to watch that the first film's more limited locations.

The second is the brilliant additions to the cast.  Joan Cusack voices Jessie the Cowgirl and simply wonderful.  She is returning for the third film as well.  In addition, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks return for this sequel and the third film as well.  Other popular voice talents also return.  Unfortunately, since of the passing of Jim Varney, Slinky Dog will have to voiced by another actor.  Other than that, the cast seems to remain original.

Now that Buzz and Woody have warmed to each other life in the toy world is much more calm.  Or is it?  When an accident causes Andy to leave for cowboy camp without Woody, Woody's depression sets in.  Woody is kidnapped by a toy man during a daring rescue at a yard sale.

When Woody arrives at his new destination he discovers who he really is and his importance in toy history.  He is joined by his related character toys.  Meanwhile, Buzz and a group of toys attempt a daring rescue of their own.  The majority of the film takes place away from Andy's bedroom, which is refreshing.  The adventures undertaken in this film are intriguing and enthralling.
The creators of "Toy Story 2" have incorporated all the missing links form the first film, such as a Buzz's space ranger background and origin.  The sequel is certainly a story about origins.  It even has a surprising twist in character development.  The sequel has so much more story to offer adults and yet still remains easily understandable for children.  Children will also still get the vibrant colors to oogle at.

The original "Toy Story" came to Blu-ray with a near perfect transfer.  "Toy Story 2" has filled in the holes.  Everything good about the first film's transfer applies to the sequel.  The colors are vibrant and bold.  The depth provided by the color and digitally-perfect black level is amazing.  There is absolutely no artifacting or noise issues.  The aliasing that was present in the first transfer is absent here.  Also fixed with the Blu-ray transfer is the chroma noise in the reds that was present on the standard DVD.  The video transfer is just as marvelous as the film itself.

If there was a slightly more than perfect score for audio, this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track would get it.  The audio is truly astounding.  Every detail is present in the soundscape.  The soundfield is immersive and still localized.  The opening space sequence immediately grabs your attention.  Asteroids fly by your head.  Laser blasts envelope you and explosions are fulfilling and heart-pounding.  Dialogue is perfectly clean.  I found it a little distracting that the dialogue is not contained in the center channel.  The dialogue will be panned ever so slightly if the character on screen is even just off the center line of the screen.  While this is how it should be, since the majority of all films leaves the dialogue anchored in the center channel to eliminate the phantom center issue it is bit distracting here.  The LFE channel is bountiful and even.  Dynamics are expansive.  If played at a calibrated level children might get a little scared at some points, much like the shark attach in "Finding Nemo."  The Blu-ray also comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track.

The Blu-ray edition of "Toy Story 2" comes in a two-disc package, with both a Blu-ray and a standard DVD copy of the film.  The bonus materials section is structured like that of the first film.  Some of the information is actually repetitive of the first.  Other than a couple new segments, the Blu-ray simply contains the standard DVD bonus materials and they are left in standard defintion.

New to the disc is a sneak peek at "Toy Story 3," three studio shorts, Buzz's space mission logs, a tribute to Joe Ranft and Pixar's Zoetrope.  The ported over features include a director audio commentary, a making of featurette, character featurette, outtakes, deleted scenes, and design/production (including music) featurettes.

"Toy Story 2" is definitely a must have.  It is certainly going to be a classic animated feature in the future.  The audio and video qualities are simply amazing.  While it is animated feature, this Blu-ray disc shows off what the format can do for your favorite films.  This is the first film that has received five stars for the three major categories.  I don't count bonus materials for very much.

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