Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Video review: "Toy Story 3"

The first "Toy Story" effectively launched the computer animation revolution, and by the time the sequel came out four years later, the war was over. "Toy Story 3," arriving 11 years after the second film, is like the return of the conquering emperor to survey his domain.

After spooning up more than $1 billion in box office sales, it's clear that despite challenges from some upstarts, Pixar remains the animation king.

"Toy Story 3" takes place in roughly real time. Andy is now a grown man about to depart for college, leaving Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the gang uncertain about their fate.

After some misadventures, they end up at Sunnyside Day Care, where a cuddly bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty) calls the shots. At first it looks heaven for old toys, what with the never-ending supply of children needing toys to play with.

But before long a nasty pecking order is revealed, and the toys long to go home -- even if it means a lengthy downtime in the attic.

Besides Lotso, the other top new addition to the mix is Ken (Michael Keaton), the original metrosexual. When he's not acting as the big bear's right-hand flunky, Ken is obsessed with collecting every fashion accessory available -- until he lays his plastic eyes on Barbie, of course.

Fun, adventurous and with a strong dose of pathos, "Toy Story 3" reminds us what a great golden age of animation in which we find ourselves.

Bonus features are simply stupendous.

Interestingly, there's a completely different set of extras with the DVD and Blu-ray versions. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes both sets of goodies, plus a few more -- not to mention a digital copy of the film.

There's so much stuff, in fact, that it's impossible to catalogue it all. The following is just highlights.
DVD: "Day and Night" short film; new epilogue; Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs; "Paths to Pixar," "Studio Stories" and "A Toy's Eye View" featurettes.

Blu-ray: Interactive feature with director Lee Unkrich; commentary track; trivia game; Ken's Dating Tips; commercial for Lotso; featurettes on the Western opening sequence, saying goodbye to Andy and Pixar's "Accidental Toymakers."

In addition to these, the combo pack boasts several other featurettes and making-of docs, including a look back on the trilogy, with all the various toys who have appeared and the actors who provided the voices.

Movie: 4 stars out of four
Extras: 4 stars

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