Back in 1995, a division of global giants Disney, a company called Pixar, released what was then a unique and revolutionary animated movie. What made this film so different from all that came before it was the way in which the movie had been created. Although it was indeed animated and that there were no live actors, sets or props to be seen anywhere, this animation was made without the use of paints, pencils, crayons or airbrushes. Everything seen was in fact produced in the digital domain. Yes, a movie created entirely using computers had been born and the name given to this unique baby was......Toy Story.
I remember journeying to the cinema on Toy Story's opening day along with my two young sons. I was as excited as them, maybe even more so, at the thought of seeing something genuinely different and never previously witnessed in a movie theatre before whereas my boys, who hadn't quite grasped the fascination with all things cinematic, just wanted to see Buzz Lightyear in action!
The lights dimmed and Toy Story began. I was in total awe. The images before my eyes looked absolutely stunning, the deep skies, the lush grass, the enveloping surroundings and of course the toys all jumped from the screen with a fantastic three dimensionality I had indeed never seen before. Colours were so vivid and the complete lack of any grain or spots had me believing I could reach out and grasp one of these toys in my hand. But the quality of the image was only half the (toy) story.
Toy Story was also an outstandingly good film. It had all the elements a good story should have; action, adventure, tension and many, many laughs, laughs that appealed to both the younger and older audiences watching. With the voice talents of Tom Hanks as the cowboy toy Woody, Tim Allen as space ranger Buzz Lightyear and featuring Randy Newman's Academy-Award-nominated music, Toy Story had an inspired tale to tell and the acting talent to pull it off superbly and all this helped along by the superb direction of John Lasseter.
In a nutshell it tells the story of Andy, the young boy with a bedroom full of toys and his favourite, Woody the cowboy. Favourite that is until the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, a futuristic Spaceman figure given to Andy for his birthday. All the toys come magically to life as soon as Andy leaves the room, none more so than leader Woody and new arrival Buzz. Buzz quickly takes the number one spot as best toy in Andy's eyes and Woody is understandably not happy. There then ensues a tale of these two starting out as the worst of enemies, Buzz believing he is indeed the real Buzz Lightyear and not a toy and them both ending up the best of friends as they help each other escape the clutches of the neighbouring bully Sid. Nasty Sid enjoys nothing more than destroying toys in a variety of inventive ways purely for his own amusement including the use of a large firework rocket which he straps to Buzz's back!
Now all this was ten years ago and in movies, as with computers, ten years is a lifetime. Does Toy Story still hold its own compared to newer digital dazzlers such as The Incredibles? The simple answer is yes. The story itself is so good that you never tire of watching it and although the animation is now starting to show it's age in places, namely in the portrayal of the human characters and the pet dog, thankfully these are not the main characters and the real stars, the toys, still look stunning even today. Toy Story is now ten years young and with this release, has never looked better. Pixar's baby is growing up fast but as their first son, will always have a special place in their heart. Toy story is destined to become a classic, in fact it already is. Not only because of its innovative digital creativity, but also due to its lovingly crafted story and the pristine acting delivered within. If you haven't seen this before (impossible) or have only seen it at the cinema (improbable) then I highly recommend you own this film. You'll always enjoy watching it and if you ever do tire of it, I'm sure you'll have grandchildren by then you can pass it on to!
Happy Birthday Toy Story, you're looking fantastic for your age!
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