Pixar's first movie, Toy Story, was not only the first fully CG movie released to cinemas but also a massive risk for the upstart company. There was little need to worry though as that first film went on to gross a phenomenal $US361 million worldwide, or around $US600 million if adjusted for inflation to today's dollar. As they say, the rest is history with Pixar since becoming the biggest company for animated movies with an even more successful Toy Story 2 released in 1999. Fifteen years on from that first movie, and eleven years from the sequel, Pixar are back with Toy Story 3. Can the magic return once again?
Andy is now 17 and ready to head off to college, leaving Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the toy-box gang to ponder their uncertain futures. When the toys are accidentally donated to the Sunnyside Daycare center they're initially overjoyed to once again be played with, but their enthusiasm quickly gives way to horror as they discover the true nature of the establishment under the rule of the deceptively welcoming "Lotso" Bear. Now, all of the toys must band together in one final, crazy scheme to escape their confines and return home to Andy.
One aspect of this movie which I do admire, is that it has a darker tone then the two originals. It's not a light-hearted comedy, but rather a much more serious dramatic movie which has a conclusion that will have you on the edge of your seat. That's not to say there isn't plenty of humour in the film, it just seems more understated.
I love the Toy Story franchise and if anything I would place this third movie as the best in the franchise which is a remarkable achievement in a world where sequels seem to diminish in quality rather then increase. If you loved the originals there is no reason not to grab this release and add it to your collection.
Beyond those two main tracks Walt Disney has filled this release up with other tracks including an English Descriptive Audio encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320kbps, Chinese, Korean, Chinese Mandarin, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps. We briefly sampled these tracks and would be pretty hard-pressed to find faults with any of them.
As expected for such a major release there is quite an extensive package of extras, so much so that there is a second Blu-Ray disc with the majority of the content.
Day & Night (6:02/HD): Here we have the animated short film that played in cinemas before Toy Story 3. Showing two characters, one which sees the world during daylight, and the other that sees it at night time this is a fantastic little film which uses images and sounds to convey the message. Gorgeous.
Toys! (6:39/HD): This featurette is a series of interviews with the filmmakers in which they discuss the number and variety of toys within the movie.
Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (4:25/HD): A rather entertaining little skit with the toys from the movie as well as actual footage from NASA and the ISS showing experiments in space.
We now move onto the second Blu-Ray disc which contains the bulk of the extras... The first part of these extras is the "Family Play" section...
The Gang's All Here (10:24/HD): Voice acting is key in any CG film and this featurette looks at all the returning cast, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, as well as all the new cast for the new characters. It's a great look at this little seen side of film making.
Accidental Toymakers (3:59/HD): I very much enjoyed this featurette which looked at how all the toy manufacturers passed on making toys based on the Toy Story franchise, except one small company.
A Toy's Eye View: Creating A Whole New Land (5:29/HD): This featurette looks at putting the Toy Story franchise into the Disney theme parks around the world.
Epilogue (4:22/HD): Here you'll find the films epilogue which plays during the end credits in the movie.
The second part of the extras on Disc Two is for the "Film Fans"...
Cine-Explore (HD): Strangely this Picture-in-Picture commentary track is on the second disc meaning this disc has another encoding of the full feature film. Commentary is provided by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson and the provide plenty of details regarding the films storyline and settings. While the commentary is taking place the video shows numerous images from the production, or people associated with it, including artwork, storyboards and early animatics.
Alternate Audio Commentary: This commentary includes supervising animator Bobby Podesta, production designer Bob Pauley, story supervisor Jason Katz, supervising animator Mike Venturini, and supervising technical director Guido Quaroni. It's a little more technical then the Cine-Explore commentary, and there is discussion about the scenes in detail, but it was a track which older movie watchers may enjoy. This track is encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320kbps.
Bonnie's Playtime: Story Roundtable (6:31/HD): This featurette focuses on the somewhat difficult sequence with the new character Bonnie playing with her toys and the number of changes that were made to the sequence during production.
Beginnings: Setting A Story In Motion (8:15/HD): Toy Story 3 screenplay writer Michael Arndt discusses writing a screenplay and how this applied to writing this movie with references to other Pixar movies. It's a decent piece which youngsters will enjoy in particular.
Life Of A Shot (7:00/HD): A very basis look at how much effort goes into making a single shot for a film like Toy Story 3. It give a good, albeit brief, look at the efforts required to make an animated film.
Making of Day & Knight (2:05/HD): This is an extremely brief promotional piece which looks at Pixar's latest animated short which is available for viewing on the first disc in this Blu-Ray set.
Paths to Pixar Editorial (4:40/HD): This featurette focuses on the editors and what their role is in the creation of a film.
Studio Stories: Where's Gordon?/Cereal Bar/Clean Start (7:03/HD): These three short stories detail some of the fun had around the Pixar offices during a films production.
The third part of the extras on Disc Two is the "Games And Activities"...
Toy Story Trivia Dash (HD): The only extra under this disc is a two player trivia game. Unfortunately it requires a number pad for entry so not user friendly on the PS3 Dual Shock controller. Besides that if you have a normal Blu-Ray remote, or PS3 Blu-Ray remote, the trivia is moderate in difficulty, although the game is short.
Rather then go list each item individually this section contains Gran Bag, Ken's Dating Tips, Lot-O'-Huggin Bear Commercial 1 & 2, Making of the Lots-o'-Huggin Bear Commercials, Internet Chat/Security Cam/Gadgets with the Security Cam one being particularly entertaining, Dancing with the Stars at Pixar, TS3 Silence Trailer, TS3 Antipiracy Trailer, TS3 Teaser Trailer, Trailer 2, Trailer 2, Japanese Teaser, Japan Trailer 2, Character Intros, and finally a Poster Gallery with 25 posters.
Review By: Dave Warner