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Toy Story 3 3D Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Matt Hough

That Pixar magic – the blend of action, humor, and heart – comes gloriously to the fore once again in Toy Story 3. Usually, the third film in a sequel franchise spells trouble for a studio (think The Return of the Jedi, The Godfather Part III, Shrek the Third, for example, all decent films but nothing to compare with their illustrious predecessors), but Toy Story 3 is just as funny, just as adventure-filled, and just as heartfelt as either of the earlier movies in the series, and it’s possible that this third one may be the best, at least in terms of deepening the intensity of the bonds that hold us viewers close to these amazing animated creations. There is never a wrong move made in this movie: we zip back and forth between two different plotlines with each as intriguing and suspenseful as the other. And the satisfaction we achieve at the end of this journey is palpable, a genuinely moving and gleeful end and beginning, all at the same time.



Toy Story 3 3D (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Lee Unkrich

Studio: Disney
Year:
2010
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 5.1 ES English; Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish

Region:  A-B-C
MSRP:  $ 49.99


Release Date: November 1, 2011

Review Date: October 27, 2011



The Film

5/5


Andy (John Morris) is going off to college, and the toys in his room are all deeply concerned that it’s the end of the road for them. Though Andy does choose to take Woody (Tom Hanks) with him on his collegiate journey, the other toys are placed in a bag destined for the attic, but in a tragic misunderstanding, they find themselves first on the street waiting for garbage pick-up and then on their way to Sunnyside, a day care center which has two playrooms: the Butterfly Room for the older children and the Caterpillar Room for the more rambunctious toddlers. King of the hill at Sunnyside is Lotso (Ned Beatty), a plush strawberry-scented bear who rules the roost along with cohorts Big Baby and a Barbie-less Ken doll (Michael Keaton). Lotso has his gullible new influx of toys assigned to the Caterpillar Room where they’re manhandled and abused to within an inch of their lives. It’s then that they realize they’re in effect confined to a prison camp and doing hard labor, at least until Woody, who had earlier left them to return to Andy, can return to try to save them.


With many splendid opportunities for the toys to relate to one another and to the new cast of characters they meet at Sunnyside, the writers have a field day in coming up with a variety of adventures for the lovable playthings. From the riotous opening where Woody, Jessie (Joan Cusack), and Buzz (Tim Allen) find themselves heroically trying to rescue a train of abducted children (troll dolls) to the hair-raising sequences of escape from one jail only to find the alternatives even more terrifying and deadly, the driving impetus of the film never lets up, all terrifically supervised by director Lee Unkrich. The sheer numbers of toys and children that these animators are dealing with throughout the movie are simply staggering, and the animation has achieved now such a degree of sophistication that special moments such as when Buzz gets switched to Spanish mode (with hilarious flamenco poses) or the gang faces imminent death in alternately a garbage compactor, chopper, and incinerator outdoes just about anything this side of a Spielberg epic. It’s marvelous, masterful filmmaking at its absolute peak at all at much less than two hours.


Most of the familiar voices from previous films are back (Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Jodi Benson as Barbie along with stars Hanks, Allen, and Cusack), and doing their usual sterling jobs with the hilarious Potato Heads (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris) being given more screen time in this movie than in the past. Of the new characters, the standouts are, of course, new villain Lotso played by Ned Beatty with a smarmy, sadistic glee recalling Wallace Beery in The Big House (given the circumstances, an apt comparison) and the hilariously vain but also frighteningly viperous Ken of Michael Keaton.



Video Quality

5/5

3D implementation – 4/5


The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are beautifully represented with never any bleeding or blooming, and there is absolutely no banding or aliasing that might distract from the reference quality visuals on display. The details they manage to incorporate into the complex animation continue to amaze (and when the toys get dirty, the smudges and scrapes look so absolutely real.) Once again, a Pixar film makes a gorgeous high definition bit of eye candy. The film has been divided into 34 chapters.


The 3D adds to the richness of the visual experience with tremendous depth added to the images. The playground that the gang must traverse to escape from Sunnyside seems almost as vast as Lawrence’s desert, and once again heights take on much more impressive dimensions once the glasses are donned. Characters have been placed in such interesting compositional ways in each shot, and the 3D emphasizes the wonderful planning which has gone into character placements throughout. There are only a couple of minor forward projections: rhino horns thrusting toward the camera and hands reaching outward to grasp another, but the opportunities for more of this (the cowcatcher on the front of the engine, Woody’s spurs, Rex’s snout and tail, Buzz’s tango moves) which weren’t exploited are practically endless. It’s clear the filmmakers did not want to push the forward boundaries too far.



Audio Quality

5/5


There are two DTS-HD Master Audio sound mixes available for choosing: 7.1 and 5.1 ES. On the 3D disc, the 5.1 ES track is the default audio selection so if one is equipped with additional rear channel speakers, one must change this manually. Using the 7.1 mix for the basis of this review, the sound design is simply sensational with activity in all the surround channels wonderfully conveyed in a deep and immersive fashion. When necessary, the LFE channel gets some very low bass signals to rattle the windows, and the dialogue remains beautifully recorded and solidly entrenched in the center channel with an occasional bit of directionalized dialogue. Randy Newman’s score gets excellent spread through all available channels as well.



Special Features

5/5


On the 3D disc, there are 3D trailers for Brave and Planes.


The following features are on the first 2d Blu-ray disc:


Day & Night is the splendid short which preceded Toy Story 3 in theaters. A combination of line and computer animation techniques with an imaginative pantomime motif, this superb Teddy Newton-directed short is presented in 1080p and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound. It runs 6 minutes.


“Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure” is a very brief and generic featurette with the action figure accompanying astronauts to the International Space Station and what he learned there about zero gravity and the speed of travel in space. It runs 4 ½ minutes in 1080p.


“Toys!” gives a bit of background on the subtle changes in the classic characters in this third film given the advances in computer animation technology since the original Toy Story was produced. It runs 6 ¾ minutes in 1080p.


The majority of the Blu-ray bonus features are contained on disc three in the set. They’re all in 1080p.


Cine-Explore offers the film once again but this time with commentary by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla Anderson with drawings, storyboards, and animation and other video appearing in PiP windows while the movie is playing. The viewer may also choose an alternate commentary track with story supervisor Jason Katz, technical director Guido Quaroni, production designer Bob Pauley, and animators Bobby Podesta and Michael Venturini.


“Roundin’ Up a Western Opening” is a brief featurette about different ideas for the movie’s western opening including the first attempt at a Sergio Leone-style opening which was deemed too slow. This runs 5 ¾ minutes.


“Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable” shows how different pitches for the Bonnie’s playroom segment of the movie were made until the best of all the ideas was utilized for the final work. This runs 6 ½ minutes.


“Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion” is an 8 ¼-minute featurette detailing the way Pixar writers have structured screenplays for three previous smash hits: Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo. Screenwriter Michael Arndt then applies those precepts to his script for the film.


“Life of a Shot” finds many Pixar artisans discussing their ideas which were incorporated into the exciting opening of the movie. This runs 7 minutes.


“Goodbye Andy” approaches the movie’s tenderest sequences as Andy says goodbye to the toys with interviews with actor John Morris, the director, and the animators who discuss advances in animating human characters since the original Toy Story. This runs 8 minutes.


“Accidental Toymakers” is a 4-minute look at the offshoot industry of toy creation generated by the original Toy Story film and its sequels.


“Making of Day & Night is a very brief 2-minute look at director Terry Newton’s vision for his short, an oddity that exemplifies Pixar’s approach to creative filmmaking.


“Paths to Pixar: Editorial” focuses on a series of Pixar editors who have moved up through the company into important positions on various films. It runs 4 ¾ minutes.


“The Gang’s All Here” introduces us to the voice cast for the movie, old faces as well as new ones, who come to the studio to record their dialogue. It runs 10 ½ minutes.


“A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land” examines the new Toy Story-inspired rides in a new playland at the Disney theme part in Hong Kong. It runs 5 ½ minutes.


Studio Stories are three brief featurettes with some fun tales about life at Pixar, all of them animated in 2D line animation with voiceovers by various Pixar personnel.


  • “Where’s Gordon” involves a secret room animator Andrew Gordon discovered and made for himself. This runs 2 ¼ minutes.
  • “Cereal Bar” acquaints us with the free Pixar cereal bar where the artists go frequently to have any brand and kind of cereal imaginable. It runs 1 ¾ minutes.
  • “Clean Start” discusses the animators who had a contest at the start of production by shaving their hair and beards and seeing who could go the longest without shaving again. It runs 3 ¼ minutes.

“Epilogue” is the 4 ½-minute sequence which plays during the closing credits with the credits removed.


The following publicity materials are provided in their own section of the disc.


  • “Grab Bag” is 3D promos for the movie running 4 minutes.
  • “Ken’s Dating Tips” offers three dating tips from Ken running 1 ¾ minutes.
  • “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear commercials are one English and one Japanese language version of the pseudo TV ads produced in 480i to simulate 1983 broadcasts. ½- minute each)
  • “The Making of the Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Commercial” shows the 1080p footage aged to appear a quarter century old running 1 ½ minutes.
  • An internet chat promo runs 1 minute
  • A security camera promo runs 1 ½ minutes
  • A gadgets promo runs 1 minute
  • Dancing with the Stars at Pixar” has professional dancers Tony Dovolani and Cheryl Burke dancing for the cameras for the animators to use for the Buzz/Jessie dance sequence.
  • Two PSA trailers for silence and antipiracy are presented. The former runs ¾ minute while the latter runs 1 minute.
  • A teaser trailer runs 1 ¾ minutes.
  • Two trailers run 2 ½ minutes each.
  • Two Japanese trailers run 1 and 2 ¾ minutes respectively.
  • The four new characters in the movie get introductions in a montage that runs 2 ¼ minutes.
  • The poster gallery offers twenty-five posters for the film for mthe viewer to step through.

Toy Story Trivia Dash is an interactive game for two players where trivia questions must be answered to proceed though the race course. The trivia may come from Toy Story 3 only or from all three Toy Story films.


The fourth disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.


The fifth disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with instructions enclosed for installation on PC and Mac devices.



In Conclusion

5/5 (not an average)


Toy Story 3 is another marvel from the geniuses at Pixar who have somehow discovered the secret formula for great entertainment: action, humor, and heart blended into an unbeatable package with endearing and memorable characters at the center. The 3D Blu-ray release features incredible video and audio quality transfers combined with an eye-popping three dimensional image that will likely become the preferred way to experience this fantastic Oscar-winning film. There are also plenty of bonus features for fans of the film or the studio. Highest recommendation!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 

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