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May 30, 2010
Toy Story Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
7/12/199519/5/2010Walt DisneyJohn Lasseter
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1GTom Hanks/Tim Allen (Voiceovers)

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Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

Pixar, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Andy... Any of these words should have you instantly thinking of Toy Story, one of the greatest animated - CG or hand drawn - films of all time. It was a massive gamble for the tiny company that put everything on this film, but with a worldwide gross of $US362 million it was the second biggest movie of the year - pipped only by Die Hard: With a Vengeance which earned an extra $US4 million. Toy Story set up Pixar as a movie powerhouse.

In the first full-length computer-animated movie, a little boy's toys are thrown into chaos when a new Space Ranger arrives to vie for supremacy with the boy's old favorite (a wooden cowboy). When the feuding toys become lost, they are forced to set aside their differences to get home.

Do I really need to talk about this movie? It would be pretty rare to find someone who loves animated, or children's movies, to have not seen this. Toy Story is a great movie and much of this has to go to the brilliant voice cast which includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger, Laurie Metcalf and John Morris as Andy. Each puts in a fine performance which captures the spirit of their characters perfectly, and this is a movie filled with lovable characters, from the two leads, to Mr Potato Head, to Bo Peep, Slinky Dog, Hamm the Piggy Bank and my personal favourite, the Rex the dinosaur. The story too is decent with the toys needing to find their way home and then work together as friends to overcome a greater evil - that being Sid - the child next door who likes to destroy, rather then play with, toys.

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Woody is one of the best CG characters... ever!
Toy Story isn't just a great movie, it's a poster child for what Pixar is all about. A great movie, with great characters, visuals and audio but more importantly a movie with a lot of heart. There's so much to like about this movie and it's testament to Pixar that, visually, this still looks quite stunning to today - 15 years after release!

Sadly the video presentation here is horrible. Oh, umm, no wait. That's the next review. As expected Toy Story looks sensational. Coming directly from a digital source there are no film artifacts such as scratches or dirt on the print, and the image is crystal clear. For the first full-length feature movie the actual visual quality still holds up remarkably well today with gorgeous animations and set pieces. Sure, newer CG movies may surpass this in terms of texturing, fluidness of the animations, or the amount of objects in the scenes, but, well, just wow.

Toy Story is presented at 1.78:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and it really can't be faulted with a perfect transfer which can only be described as reference quality from start to finish.

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Buzz and Woody ride RC...
As with any animated or CG movies there aren't any on-set moments to record the audio with everything done through voice recordings and post-production audio. With this in mind it's not surprising then to hear that the audio on this release is crystal clear and a delight to listen to. Music from Randy Newman including the superb "You've Got A Friend In Me" really sets the tone of this movie perfectly.

The Toy Story Blu-Ray includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which for all intents and purposes is nigh on perfect. If there is one slight complaint it's that there were one or two instances where the bass seemed a pumped up a little high compared to the rest of the audio mix, but that's more likely a audio mixing choice then anything to do with this otherwise stunning transfer.

Other tracks include English Audio Descriptive which is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 320kbps, as well as Czech, Greek, Bulgarian, Slovakian and Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps. We only sampled these briefly, but can't see how anyone would have issues with these tracks. Subtitles are provided in English (and from samples we saw no issues with the track), Greek, Arabic, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Czech, Latvian, Estonian, and Serbian.

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My favourite character, Rex the Dinosaur.
There are a few extras on this Blu-Ray so let's get to them then...

Sneak Peek at Toy Story 3 (2:06/HD): This is a brief look at the storyline for the upcoming third movie. It gives away some of the story, but not enough to be a major spoiler.

Audio Commentary with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Ralf Eggleston, Bill Reeves, Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold: This is a very impressive, entertaining and light hearted audio commentary in which the participants cover most major facets of the production of this film.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off (3:28/HD): This is a short featuette which was actually quite good as Buzz Lightyear details the American Space Shuttle and detail a launch with some gorgeous HD footage before looking at the International Space Station.

Paths to Pixar: Artists (4:47/HD): This featurette sees several artists at Pixar talk about their jobs at Pixar including where their inspiration comes from and what they do at the studio.

Studio Stories: John's Car (1:28/HD): A funny little look at John Lasseter's car during the making of the movie and how Steve Jobs bought him a new car to be 'safe'.

Studio Stories: Baby AJ (1:40/HD): A pretty amusing story about one of the Pixar employees winning a competition by dressing up as the baby.

Studio Stories: Scooter Races (2:18/HD): A short story about all the scooter races that took place around the offices of Pixar.

Buzz Takes Manhattan (2:12/HD): A look at the Buzz Lightyear Balloon in the Macey's Parade in New York City. Pretty spectacular balloon.

Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw (7:36/HD): Now this is a sensational extra in which the key people discuss how the film was originally driven to the point where it was shut down by Disney before the filmmakers spent 2 weeks to resurrect the film. It also includes an excerpt from the reel which was binned by Disney.

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Prepare to... DRAW!
We now move onto the second part of the extras which have been ported over from the DVD release.

Toy Story Filmmakers Reflect (16:35): Filmed ten years after the film was released this is a great sit down discussion between John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft in which they discuss the making of the film, some of the highlights of making the film, and the reaction to its final release.

Making Of Toy Story (20:20): This is a great documentary piece which looks at the making of this film from creating the story to the computer animation.

The Legacy of Toy Story (11:44): Many in the film industry including Roy E. Disney, George Lucas, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks as well as the filmmakers comment on what it was like when this movie was released in cinemas. It was obviously filmed several years after release which gives a good retrospective look.

Designing Toy Story (6:13): As the title suggests this featurette focuses on the design of characters and sets for the movie. A little brief but very interesting nonetheless.

Deleted Scenes (19:01): Eight deleted or alternate scenes are presented here with two introductions detailing why they were cut. Some of these scenes are near complete, while others are still in early storyboard form. Sadly these are only presented in Standard Definition for this Blu-Ray release.

Design (28:09): Here we have Galleries with images for eleven characters or locations (14:29), 3D Visualizations (5:51) which show off some character and location models used in the film and Colour Galleries (7:49) which consists of interviews discussing the various colour themes in the film.

Story (14:01): This featurette focuses on the creation of the storyline for the movie with a focus on the late Joe Ranft's involvement in the process (tragically Joe was killed in a car crash in 2005). Three storyboard sequences are shown in these videos.

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Buzz Lightyear will return in Toy Story 3 this year.
Story (11:20): This section includes four featurettes including "Production Tour", "Layout Tricks", "Animation Tour" and "Multi-Language Reel". The names say it all really and each is well worth checking out.

Music & Sound (26:20): This section includes "You've Got A Friend In Me" Music Video (2:15), Designing Sound (6:35) which is a decent look at creating the sounds in the film, and Randy Newman Demos (17:30) which are early audio samples of songs.

Publicity (10:15): Finally we come to the publicity which includes TV Spots, Trailers and the like. It was a little disappointing that the (brilliant) trailers weren't put into HD for this Blu-Ray release.

Publicity: Toy Story Treats: Scroll down on the Publicity Menu and you'll find this little collection of videos. Again, the biggest disappointment is that the CG films haven't been re-encoded in HD - perhaps they were never mastered that way however.

It's the first full-length CG movie, and it cemented Pixar as the home of the best CG movies which remains to this day. Toy Story remains one of Pixar's best to this very day despite the aging technology, but it looks and sounds spectacular on Blu-Ray today. A swag of extras makes this an essential purchase.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.