Toy Story 3 - Double Play Edition Blu-ray Review
Toy Story 3 comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition rendition that does the movie, and Pixar’s continued standard for visual excellence, proud. It appears to be identical to the US counterpart, boasting the same sheer perfection from start to finish. Initially I had this pegged as the best presentation that I had ever come across for an animated release, but Pixar are famous for this kind of quality, and this addition merely ranks up there with all of their reliably amazing renditions. Detail is phenomenal, and since this movie is all about the attention-to-detail, it’s good to see the clarity and lack of softness pervasive throughout. From the longer shots of dozens of toys being abused by manic children, to the closer observation of the lead characters – both Woody and Buzz have a stupid number of points of motion-capture rendering across their faces, and it really shows. Line detail, edge definition, and fine texture detail is astounding. The colour scheme is as broad as you would expect from a Toy Story / Pixar production, the palette offering up some excellent primaries and seemingly infinite shades thereof, every colour rich and almost tangible, hell, edible in its presentation. Blacks are deep and round out a superior presentation, which – even in its 2D form – has plenty of 3D pop.
On the aural front things are similarly excellent, the Blu-ray boasting a landmark DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that whips up a storm to keep you occupied for the duration. From Randy Newman’s rousing, sheer fun score, to the explosive – at times thunderous – special effects, all of your speakers are going to get a serious workout, and your LFE channel is going to be a little surprised, as this ostensible ‘kid’s movie’ has a whole lot to offer in terms of bombast. Dialogue, of course, retains clarity throughout, never getting left behind, even in the midst of a runaway train, exploding bridge or rumbling industrial incinerator. The louder effects, as mentioned, all offer up a more powerful ambience as well, heavy machinery really growling in the background, but allowing the more sparkly, lighter effects to ping out across the array, bringing to the front some nifty directionality. And Newman’s score definitely brings up the rear, ensuring that there is simply never a dull moment, and emboldening the proceedings yet further. Another demo-quality offering from Pixar, another top mark for Toy Story 3.
This UK Region Free Blu-ray release sports a hefty package of extras split across 2 discs (the 3rd disc is a DVD copy, but it should be noted that it also sports a duplicated extras package). It is near-as identical to that found on the US release, and similarly boasts almost all of the meat (including the Commentary) on the 2nd disc, albeit broken down into some very small portions – each lasting little more than a few minutes. Some may like this very easily digestible approach, others may have wished for a more comprehensive single offering amidst the tiny, bitty extras, but then again this has generally always been the case when it comes to Toy Story / Pixar releases, and at least it enables you to skip to the ones that you want to watch.
Day and Night is a short movie which comes as recommended viewing on the first disc. Running at 6 minutes, it offers up an interesting, artistic observation of the titular ‘day’ and ‘night’ theme, utilising both colour and monochrome to create a sort-of 3D image, with accompanying music, but no dialogue. Innovative.
Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs
The Science of Adventure lasts 5 minutes and has Buzz (and friends) discuss space travel in an educational kind-of-way.
Toys! is a brief 7 minute Featurette, oddly separated from the second disc and included here. It merely looks at how difficult it was for the creators to come up with so many different toys (I think it was something like 300).
Toy Story Trivia Dash is a clever little game, which can be played by 2, offering up Toy Story-related questions (either about the whole series, or just this entry) and having players compete for the points required to get to the finish line. Set against quite a demanding clock, the questions are not too tough, but you will have to be on the ball to win. I suspect this is a fairly limited, almost gimmicky extra, but – for this kind of offering – it was still quite good fun, and benefits vastly from being 2-player.
Cine-Explore with Director Lee Unkrich & Producer Darla Anderson is a strange extra to have on the second disc because it basically means they have to include a second (or third if you count the DVD disc) copy of the film, just for the purposes of this video commentary. But assuming that it was done for space reasons, there is definitely a lesson to be learned here for Avatar bigshot Cameron, who didn’t bother doing a Commentary when his Avatar release similarly left no room on its disc in the Collector’s Edition. Well, Mr Cameron, all you have to do is stick a lower quality (indiscernibly, though) copy on the second disc, complete with a Picture-in-Picture track! This is a lovely offering, complete with Concept Art, Effects dissections and Storyboards playing out in the background as the contributors discuss their creation in depth. It’s engaging, insightful, and just as enthusiastic as you would expect from creators who are so in love with their creation – and, as a result, it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Beyond the Toy Box: An Alternative Commentary Track provides even more insight, this time audio-only, and focussed more on the technical aspects of the production, as you would only expect from the contributors: 2 Supervising Animators, a Supervising Technical Director, and a Story Supervisor (enough supervisors?). Still, it’s a nice offering, and will fill in anything you think the first track could have possibly missed.
Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion takes 8 minutes to look at screenwriter Michael Arndt’s technique for creating a decent screenplay, and the work that he did to come up with a good idea right from scratch.
Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable with Director Lee Unkrich has a group of the production crew sitting around a table for 6 minutes, discussing the creation of some of the new toys revolving around this pivotal new character.
Roundin’ Up a Western Opening has Director Lee Unkrich taking 6 minutes to dissect the film’s opening salvo, and also discuss the alternative that they were considering using: a classic Western shoot-out.
Paths to Pixar: Editorial spends a brief 4 minutes looking at the work of the tireless Editors to cut the final product together.
The Gang’s All Here takes 11 minutes to look at the studio booth work done by all of the vocal contributors, from mainstays like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, to newcomers like Timothy Dalton and Ned Beatty. Worth checking out just to get to see them all in action.
Goodbye Andy spends 8 minutes looking at the more realistic, older Andy, and his pivotal, coming-of-age-ish story-arc. It’s interesting because I’m not quite sold on the new, old Andy, and his ultra-realism (the younger child characters look much better).
‘Dancing with the Stars’ at Pixar spends a couple of minutes looking at the work the people from Dancing with the Stars did to help render the authentic dance sequences in the movie.
Life of a Shot takes 7 minutes to look at just how much work goes into one single shot, with contribution from Producer Darla Anderson (the co-commentator).
Making of Day & Night offers up a brief, 2 minute look at how they painstakingly put together this innovative short, featured on the first disc.
3 Studio Stories is a rather strange collection of behind-the-scenes stories about the creative production company – Cereal Bar, Clean Start and Where’s Gordon? looking at some of the silly stuff they get up to at the studio: like shaving their heads. Not really sure what the point is of this, for completists only.
Accidental Toymakers takes a brief 4 minutes to look at the interest big companies – like Hasbro – had in making the characters from Toy Story into production-line toys for kids. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be quite a cash-cow.
A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land spends 5 minutes looking at the various Disney theme park rides which were created in tandem with the Toy Story franchise.
Epilogue is basically the 4 minute closing scene which plays out over the end credits, only now in its full glory without the credits rolling alongside it.
Ken’s Dating Tips takes just a minute to have Michael Keaton’s funny (in many senses of the word) Ken-doll in-character, giving you tips on how to pick up women.
Lots-‘O-Huggin’ Bear Commercial and Lots-‘O-Huggin’ Bear Japanese Commercial are intentionally poor quality faux promos for the new character, running at just a minute each, and sporting their very own, also minute-long, Making-Of.
Internet Chat is exactly that, a 4-minute mock-chat between Woody and Buzz, who are on sniping form.
Security Cam is a strange but quite effective minute-long promo for Toy Story done in the style of a Blair-Witch-style horror movie.
Character Intros offers up 2 minutes of introduction to some of the new characters in this instalment.
Gadgets uses an innovative way to further promote the movie, with the toys playing out against a backdrop of a minute-long mock futuristic car commercial.
Grab Bag is a 4 minute collection of 3D-heavy promotional clips for Toy Story 3.
Poster Gallery offers up a selection of the promo art for the movie, as shown in various territories.
Trailers provides you with a selection of the various promotional trailers for the movie. 7, no less.
It is almost unprecedented to have a third movie in a series which is actually comparable to the first, not just in terms of quality, but also story, script, characterisation and heart. Toy Story 3 is indeed such a rare commodity, and another tremendous production from those amazing folks over at Pixar. Renowned for their consistent excellence, and also for their aversion to going for the easy movie through countless sequels, the Toy Story franchise remains the only one of theirs that they have expanded. And fans should not be disappointed, because when it comes to CG animated adventures which appeal to kids and adults alike, it simply doesn’t get better than this.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get an identical release to the US counterpart, boasting all of the same extras, as well as the reference quality video and audio. I can’t see many who would be able to fully justify not having this in their collection, it’s a great movie, a great second sequel, and a great Blu-ray package, and you won’t regret picking it up. Highly recommended.
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