BluRay/DVD Reviews

TOY STORY 3

By • Nov 11th, 2010 •

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I don’t know that anyone was ever really worried about this second sequel to the Pixar mega-hit TOY STORY, but I’m sure there were ripples of concern. Think GODFATHER 3, LETHAL WEAPON 3, RUSH HOUR 3, ALIEN 3. Keep thinking and more will come to mind.

TOY STORY 3, after a rousing preamble, gets off to a slow start. But it’s 104 mins long, and soon we’re into a funny, energetic, moving story that develops a large cast of characters with fidelity to the earlier films and thorough connection to the new concept…

…in which the beloved toys are donated to a child care center where uncaring infants and children abuse the playthings without mercy. On hand are a band of previous donatables who target our toy leads for a life of misery. Ned Beatty, voice-acting the role of Lotso, a large pink teddy bear who seems initially warm and welcoming in a down home kind of way, turns malevolent as the narrative unwinds, reminding me, chillingly, of Will Gear in John Frankenheimer’s SECONDS. I listened to the commentary track to see if that comparison crossed the minds of the producer and director, but they never indicated so.

What they do indicate is that the commentary was done before the film was completely finished. In a rollicking mood, both Unkrich and Anderson recall their fun times with the project exactly as if it were a live-action film, which ultimately it was, given the voice-over talent and all the technical folk involved in its creation. It has been 11 years since TOY STORY 2 (is that possible…?!), and for them, one of the main technological leaps was in how much better they were able to make the humans look. Interestingly, their biggest challenge was simulating the look and feel of garbage bags. Also worthy of looking out for – Unkrich, a lover of Stanley Kubrick’s work, gives the ‘Demo Buzz’ that lowered head stare that appears in many of Kubrick’s films.

The character animation, backgrounds, and use of magic hour and other expressionistic light sources, are flawlessly rendered. The direction of the actors and animation are so on target, and this is such an e-motion picture, that talk of it being nominated as one of the best films of the year, not just an animation nominee, are entirely justified. I’d recently seen the film in 3D, wherein old-school in-your-face tricks were avoided for more mise-en-scene inspired dimensional effects, a la Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER. It was fine in 3D, but it’s equally fine as presented here, with rich detailed images, beautifully saturated colors, and crisp, separated sound and music.

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