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Toy Story (Special Edition) (1995) Print E-mail
Monday, 22 March 2010
Image"Toy Story" is one of the animated films that started it all in terms of visual expectations for children's films.  For that matter, it paved the way for adult expectations as well.  Forget all the hoopla over the Disney-Pixar quarrel and just take a look at what this film represents.  It combines imagination-capturing animation and a story to boot.

The first of the Toy Story saga was released in 1995 to critical acclaim.  Well some debated between classic-drawn animation and computer animation, there is no argument that "Toy Story" is a huge success.  Pixar has gone on to produce successful animated feature after feature.  They haven't produced one flop.  That is likely due to the time and energy that a film such as this requires.  It has to pass rigorous testing before development actually starts.

"Toy Story" showed a new side to "imagineers."  The concept of the film is original and it was dutifully carried out.  The film is about a bunch of toys belong to a boy named Andy.  Like "Night at the Museum," this film shows what happens to toys when no human is watching.  The toys come alive!

Woody, a pull-string cowboy, is the leader of the toy gang.  His companions include a T-Rex, Mr. Potatohead, Little Bo Peep, a RC Car, a springy-stretchy dog, among several others.  Amidst preparing for a big move, the toys forget that Andy's birthday is arriving.  Birthdays and Christmases mean the arrival of new toys.  It just so happens that on this birthday Andy receives a Buzz Lightyear, the next evolution of toy.

Buzz has trouble identifying the fact that he is just a toy and not a real space ranger.  However, that doesn't stop Buzz from being extremely popular with the other toys.  When Andy stops playing with Woody in favor of Buzz, Woody feels rejected.  He turns his jealously into hatred, a hatred of Buzz.  Through a series of accidents, Buzz and Woody find themselves roaming free in the real world.  They try to make there way back to Andy.  However, at every turn another obstacle presents itself.

"Toy Story" is a simple story that is filled with important lessons for kids.  Besides the moral of the story, the voice cast is terrific.  Tim Allen and Tom Hanks lead the gang.  They are assisted by Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger and Annie Potts.  And if that wasn't enough, Randy Newman lends his music talents to the film, including the hit original song, "You've Got A Friend In Me."  Randy was nominated for two Academy Awards.
There is no denying the fact that "Toy Story" is inspiring and beautifully created.  My only criticism is that there are a couple points in the film in which it feels to move a bit slowly.  However, that is easily overlooked.

Disney brings "Toy Story" to Blu-ray with an AVC encode and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  I would call the video quality perfect, but it comes close.  It is probably as close as it will ever come.  However, given the advances in technology and the beauty of recent animated features, it is hard to completely fault the look of this film.  The most important part of this film is the color palette.  I am happy to report that the colors are vibrant, rich and simply stunning.  I did not expect the details to be as noticeable as they are, so that is also a pleasant outcome.  There is simply no comparison between the video quality of this Blu-ray and all the previous standard DVD releases of the film.  Edges are nicely defined and aliasing only occurs a couple of times during the film.  You can forget about any banding, artifacting or noise issues.  The transfer is crystal clean.  Depth is amazing and despite its digital nature still retains a somewhat film-appearance.

Just as with the video, the audio transfer is no slouch.  The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is superbly presented.  The prioritization of all the stems is spot on.  The surround channels are constantly active, providing an immersive experience like no other.  The LFE channel is hearty and active, and yet is still reserved.  This is likely due to Pixar's aggressive LFE nature in more recent animated features.  Directionality and panning is spot on.  Dialogue is intelligible and balanced throughout.  However, some of  the lines have some treble issues.  Score another one for Pixar in the audio department.

"Toy Story" seems to have had several DVD releases, upping each other on the bonus materials content.  This Blu-ray edition is no exception.  It is a Special Edition that contains the original DVD materials as well as some new featurettes.  New to the Blu-ray is a Sneak Peek at the upcoming "Toy Story 3."  This is entirely too brief.  Also new to the Blu-ray is "Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off."  This is a brief space program introduction by the characters of the film.  "Buzz Takes Manhattan" is also new and briefly covers the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.  The final new Blu-ray feature is a collection of Studio Stories.  This collection houses three shorts, totaling only five minutes or so.

The other features on the Blu-ray are ported over from the standard DVD.  "Making 'Toy Story'" is a standard promo piece.  "Filmmakers Reflect" is a roundtable discussion.  There is a collection of deleted scenes and design galleries.  "Black Friday: The 'Toy Story' You Never Saw" is a scrapped version of the film.  "The Legacy of 'Toy Story'" is a shared thoughts piece.  "Designing 'Toy Story'" is a brief introduction to the start of the film's design.  The original director's audio commentary is also included.  Finally, "Music and Sound," which is the best piece on the disc is a one half of an hour featurette on the sound design and music of Randy Newman.

This Special Edition Blu-ray has two discs.  The first disc contains the feature and bonus materials on Blu-ray and the second disc is a DVD Copy of the same material.

There is no video commentary present in this package, nor is the 3-D version of the film included.  When 3-D TV grabs hold expect to see a 3-D release of the film hit Blu-ray.

"Toy Story" is darn near perfect in all aspects.  It is highly recommended that you upgrade your standard DVD with this Blu-ray.

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